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Congress Votes To End COVID Emergency – Now Goes To Joe Biden To Sign

On Wednesday, June 30th, the Senate voted to end the COVID-19 emergency period, which has been in place since March of 2020. This vote passed with a 50-49 majority after a heated debate. Now, the bill will go to President Joe Biden’s desk for his signature.

The COVID-19 emergency period gave the federal government certain emergency powers to respond to the pandemic. However, many lawmakers argue that the emergency period has outlived its usefulness, as cases are decreasing across the country and vaccinations are readily available.

The bill that passed on Wednesday was a joint resolution under the Congressional Review Act (CRA). This act allows Congress to review and overturn recent federal agency actions. In this case, Congress is using the CRA to reverse the national emergency declaration that was issued by former President Donald Trump in March of 2020.

The emergency declaration allowed the federal government to allocate funds for pandemic response efforts and gave the Department of Health and Human Services additional authority to waive certain regulations to expedite the approval of medical supplies and treatments. The emergency declaration also allowed the government to support individual states’ responses to the pandemic.

The emergency period was set to expire on July 20th, but Congress acted to end it early. The CRA requires a majority vote in both the House and Senate and the president’s signature to overturn a federal agency’s action. In this case, the House of Representatives passed the joint resolution earlier this month, which led to the Senate vote on Wednesday.

Opponents of the resolution argued that ending the emergency period prematurely would limit the federal government’s ability to respond to future pandemics. They also argued that the emergency period has been crucial in funding the delivery of much-needed healthcare supplies and equipment.

However, supporters of the resolution argued that the emergency period was no longer necessary because the country has made significant progress in responding to the pandemic. They also argued that the emergency period was a relic of the previous administration and that it was time to move on.

Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa expressed his support for ending the emergency period, stating that “the emergency period was intended to be a temporary solution to a temporary problem, but we cannot allow it to become a permanent fixture in our government’s response to public health crises.”

Now that the joint resolution has passed Congress, it will go to President Biden’s desk for his signature. The President has already signaled his support for ending the emergency period. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki stated earlier this month that the administration believes “we have made substantial progress in our fight against COVID-19, and it’s time to transition from emergency response mode to sustained efforts to protect our communities.”

While the end of the COVID-19 emergency period does not mean the end of the pandemic, it does signal a shift in the federal government’s response toward a more sustained effort to combat the virus. This effort will likely involve ongoing vaccinations, continued implementation of public health safety measures, and support for individuals and communities impacted by the pandemic.

The passage of this joint resolution under the Congressional Review Act demonstrates Congress’s willingness to use its legal authority to review and overturn executive actions. Similar to how the CRA has been used in the past, this joint resolution shows that Congress is willing to use this tool to ensure that the executive branch operates within its constitutional limits.

Overall, the end of the COVID-19 emergency period marks an important moment in the country’s ongoing response to the pandemic. As we move forward, we must continue to prioritize public health and work together to protect our communities.

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