The meetings, which the official said “will continue all week,” mark Jha’s first big push on Capitol Hill since he took office earlier this month while Congress was in recess for the Easter holiday.
The Biden administration requested $22.5 billion in supplemental COVID-19 relief funding last month in its massive government funding package, but it was stripped from the bill. It included money for testing, treatments, treatments, and prevention of future outbreaks. Negotiators were able to reach agreement on a discounted $10 billion package, but Congress left Washington without passing the bipartisan bill amid a row over immigration policy of Title 42, a pandemic-era rule that allows immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico border to be immediately returned to their countries of origin due to a public health emergency.
A White House fact sheet obtained by CNN on Wednesday stresses the “urgent need” for Congress to act amid the ongoing unpredictability of the coronavirus, outlining specific consequences for vaccines, treatments and testing for Americans, as well as fewer gunshots abroad.
And the fact sheet warned, “COVID-19 is not waiting for Congress to negotiate. Other countries won’t wait. Time is of the essence. Congress must act urgently to help save more American lives and ensure we stay prepared.”
The United States will not be able to secure enough second booster shots to every American if needed this fall, the fact sheet said, pending authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and a recommendation from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The fact sheet noted that the administration would also not be able to secure new vaccines “that could provide broader and longer-lasting protection than our current vaccines” to guard against potential variants.
“The United States must secure these vaccines today, but without funding, the administration cannot buy doses for the American people or even ensure that America is at the same level for them. This may mean that people in other countries have access to the best life-saving vaccines from before the White House said.
On testing, the White House warned that the US “cannot maintain manufacturing capacity for domestic testing and will be unprepared for another increase in testing demand,” similar to the December shortfall amid the spread of the Omicron variant.
“Federal investment is an important way to maintain the domestic testing manufacturing capacity that we’ve built over the past 15 months. Without these investments, manufacturers will take months to rebuild capacity, so failing to invest now will leave us with insufficient testing capacity and supply if we see another increase in capacity. cases and the demand for testing has increased again.”
Funding shortfalls will also affect US efforts abroad.
“Without additional funding for our global response, we will not have the resources to help get more gun shots in countries in need – which is one of the best ways we can prevent future variables. We will also lack funding to provide oxygen and other life-saving supplies,” the fact statement said. And our global genetic sequencing capabilities will collapse.”