Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor on the importance of providing additional COVID aid in the upcoming omnibus. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:
There is an important matter that Congress must address in the spending bill: additional COVID relief aid, which the Administration has wisely urged Congress to approve.
The federal government has completely exhausted all the public health funding approved last year as part of the American Rescue Plan. That means that to prepare for future variants, more federal funding is needed now.
Across the country, thank God, we’ve seen signs that the U.S. is turning the corner on COVID: school are open, mask guidelines are being reversed, vaccinations have surpassed 216 million Americans and last Friday we learned more than seven million jobs have now been created since President Biden took office.
This is all great news: cases are falling, unemployment is falling, and the country is on the right track. But experience has taught us that new variants can come back with a vengeance if – if – we aren’t ready.
The Administration has been clear: if we want schools to stay open, if we want to preserve as much of normal life as possible when another variant arises – and the odds are quite high that one will – Congress must pass additional COVID funding now, not later.
We have to have it ready. We have to have the therapeutics ready. We have to have the testing ready. We have to have the vaccines ready. We can't wait two, three months when after the variant hits, we debate this issue and then allocate the money, and then production starts. That would be terrible for the country.
It will be too little too late. Far better to prepare now than play catch-up later. We should have learned our lesson a long time ago, but now we are hopefully.
I have been strongly urging my colleagues to get a deal done on COVID. Failing to act is not an acceptable outcome.