Congress breaks for recess with $10B COVID-19 aid in limbo

U.S. lawmakers began their two-week recess without acting on a $10 billion COVID-19 relief package, which was agreed to by Senate negotiators and then blocked by Republican lawmakers the next day. 

Senate negotiators agreed to a $10 billion COVID-19 aid package April 4, repurposing earlier unused COVID-19 funds. A day later, the legislative package was complicated by conflict over President Biden's immigration policy, with Republican senators calling for a vote on an amendment that would keep in place the Title 42 border restrictions, which allows limits on immigration due to the pandemic. The bill can't proceed without the vote, they say.

It's possible senators will be able to find a way forward after recess, but it's not clear the 10 Republican votes needed will materialize without a vote on the immigration amendment, CNN reports. Lawmakers return to session the week of April 25.

The current lack of funding is affecting resources for COVID-19 testing and treatment. The Health Resources and Services Administration stopped accepting providers' claims for COVID-19 testing and treatment of the uninsured March 22 due to a lack of sufficient funds, and stopped accepting claims for the vaccination of the uninsured April 5. The federal government is also cutting back shipments of monoclonal antibody treatments to states by 30 percent, and the U.S. supply of those treatments could run out as soon as May. 

The American Hospital Association wrote to Congressional leaders April 7, expressing disappointment in Congress adjourning for recess without providing Medicare sequester relief or critical financial assistance for hospitals and health systems. 

 

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