WASHINGTON -- Officials said that the Biden administration told Congress it needs $30 billion more to continue its fight against Covid-19 .
Two people who are familiar with the plan of the administration confirmed key details Tuesday: $17.9billion for vaccines and treatments; $4.9billion for testing; $3billion to cover uninsured coronavirus care and $3.7billion to prepare for future versions. They spoke under anonymity to discuss the deliberations between lawmakers and the administration over the supplemental funding.
Separately, Republican Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri said to reporters that he had spoken with Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and that "I believe they will be proposing a $30 Billion supplemental."
Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary, addressed the need to have more money but did not specify the amount.
She said that while we have enough funds to handle the current omicron surge over the next weeks, it was our goal to make sure we are prepared to deal with the virus.
The nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget reports that Congress has approved $5.8 trillion to combat the pandemic in a series major bills that span the Trump and Biden administrations. This does not include actions taken by the Federal Reserve to keep the economy running.
Psaki stated that most of President Joe Biden’s 2021 coronavirus relief legislation has been spent or allocated, with 90% going to vaccines, testing, and support for schools.
It is not clear how Congress will react to the new request for additional funding. Republicans want more Covid relief for those businesses that are still affected by the pandemic. Democratic progressives, on the other hand, want to see a massive effort to immunize the rest of the globe.
Blunt stated that senators had asked about the spending of other Covid dollars. "Frankly, in the categories they're asking for money, all the money has been spent or committed."
Along with many Democratic lawmakers, humanitarian groups have been pressing the Biden White House, and key committee members in Congress, to allocate billions of dollars for global vaccine efforts. They claim that this will prevent another variant of coronavirus from spreading around the globe with potentially deadly consequences.
Although vaccines are becoming more common, many countries in the world lack the infrastructure necessary to deliver them. Advocates claim that vaccines are being wasted.
Rachel Hall, head of U.S. government advocacy at the aid group CARE said that while drug production is increasing, there hasn't been a complementing investment in the health system in order to get the doses into arms. We are in danger of a global disaster because we haven't been investing in the delivery system.
A CARE analysis found that 32 of the 92 low-income countries receiving vaccine donations have used less then half of the doses. These include Nigeria, which used 34% of the doses, Afghanistan, 46%, and Haiti (39%).
At Tuesday's White House briefing, Psaki acknowledged that there was a problem. She stated that vaccines have been a major part of the effort. She said logistics are "hyperlocal problems".
Axios first reported the administration's plans to ask for more money.