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Tipsheet

The U.S. Senate Continues to Send a Loud and Clear Message on COVID

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

The U.S. Senate is continuing to take major opportunities thanks to Democratic absences when it comes to freedom from restrictions due to the Wuhan coronavirus. On Thursday, the Senate voted 48-47 to end the national emergency related to the virus, per Senate Joint Resolution 38 from Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS). 

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As Jordain Carney reported for The Hill, Democrats were missing three votes, compared to Republicans who were missing just two. Normally the Senate is evenly divided 50-50, with Democrats only having control because Vice President Kamala Harris can cast a tie-breaking vote.

In his remarks on the Senate floor before the vote, Sen. Marshall, who is also a medical doctor, spoke of portraits in the Capitol rotunda, including those which show empty thrones, affirming then General George Washington would not be a king, and the United States would be a republic.

"I would ask our president to throw off his robes. I would ask him to listen to the people, and end this declaration of emergency."

The state of emergency was declared on March 13, 2020, by then President Donald Trump, around the time the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the virus to be a pandemic. 

This comes after the Senate also voted on Wednesday in favor of another resolution from Sen. Marshall to get rid of the Biden administration's vaccine mandate for health care workers at providers that participate in Medicaid and Medicare. Republicans in the body were able to seize a major opportunity given to them on such a vote, after six Democrats were out missing votes. Republicans in the Senate forced the 44-49 vote thanks to the Congressional Review Act. 

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Carney has reported that neither proposal is likely to go anywhere. When it comes to Thursday's vote, he cites a statement from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) as well as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY):

"Continuing to protect against COVID-19 and ensuring that our response remains nimble are top priorities of this Administration. Therefore, the Administration strongly opposes Senate Joint Resolution 38, which would terminate the national emergency declared on March 13, 2020, and unnecessarily and abruptly curtail the ability of the Administration to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic," the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) said in a statement. 

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Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) accused Marshall of trying to "handicap" Biden's ability to respond to the coronavirus. 

"This proposal to hinder our COVID preparedness is as damaging and risky as it is unnecessary and it should be voted down. It is going nowhere if it passes," Schumer said. 

Such partisan language, however, is quite different from the image President Joe Biden had just painted during his Tuesday State of the Union address

The president touted updated guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced last Friday, putting 70 percent of the country in counties at "low" or "medium" risk, and thus do not need to wear masks. 

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"Thanks to the progress we have made this past year, COVID-19 need no longer control our lives," Biden also mentioned.

Also on Thursday, Pew Research came out with a piece from John Gramlich, "Two Years Into the Pandemic, Americans Inch Closer to a New Normal."

According to the piece:

For the public, the sense of optimism that the country might be turning the corner – evident in surveys shortly after President Joe Biden took office and as vaccines became widely available – has given way to weariness and frustration. A majority of Americans now give Biden negative marks for his handling of the outbreak, and ratings for other government leaders and public health officials have tumbled. Amid these criticisms, a growing share of Americans appear ready to move on to a new normal, even as the exact contours of that new normal are hard to discern. 

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Large majorities of adults now say they are comfortable doing a variety of everyday activities, including visiting friends and family inside their home (85%), going to the grocery store (84%), going to a hair salon or barbershop (73%) and eating out in a restaurant (70%). Among those who have been working from home, a growing share say they would be comfortable returning to their office if it were to reopen soon.

Sen. Marshall also referenced "70% of Americans ready to accept COVID-19 as part of life" in posters during his remarks. That 70 percent figure appears to come from a Monmouth University poll released on January 31, 2022, which included a subheadline reading "Americans still concerned about virus, but lose faith in federal measures."

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"Fully 7 in 10 Americans (70%) agree with the sentiment that “it’s time we accept that Covid is here to stay and we just need to get on with our lives” – including 78% of those who report having gotten Covid and 65% of those who say they have not been infected," the poll's write-up read. 

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