What’s at stake in GOP effort to chop unspent COVID-19 funds

Justin Craig
Wed, Might 17, 10:18 AM (5 days in the past) to Jennifer, reporters, Timothy, Christopher, Chris, Editors, Christine, Net, David

With reclaiming unspent COVID-19 funds being one of many few factors of compromise in debt ceiling negotiations between Home Republicans and the White Home, here’s what to know in regards to the public well being {dollars} on the chopping block.

Greenback for greenback

The Congressional Finances Workplace projected that $56 billion is all that is still unobligated of the $4.62 trillion that the Authorities Accountability Workplace estimated was appropriated by Congress within the six items of COVID-19 response laws in 2020 and 2021. Just one.2% of what has been appropriated by Congress can be reclaimed by the Restrict, Save, Develop Act, which is the GOP’s laws to boost the debt ceiling whereas chopping spending.


CBO additionally projected that the clawbacks would contribute to $30 billion in deficit discount by 2033.

Applications taking the largest hit

The applications funded by COVID-19 appropriations payments that might take the most important hit underneath the Republican plan are solely tangentially associated to public well being.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), the rating member of the Home Committee on Appropriations, produced an in depth report on how the unspent COVID-19 funds had been meant for use, which clarified that 138 totally different Treasury accounts can be affected.

The Federal Emergency Administration Company, for instance, would lose $1 billion for catastrophe aid efforts, exacerbating its already projected $12 billion 2023 shortfall.

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The Emergency Connectivity Fund, a $760 million undertaking of the Federal Communications Fee that gives web entry and gadgets to “college students, faculty workers, and library patrons,” would even be eradicated solely underneath the Republican plan.

The biggest singular class in DeLauro’s report, $6 billion, is earmarked for the Division of Transportation to offer for state and native governments to keep up transportation infrastructure, together with airports, trains, and roadways. DeLauro argued on the time that spending COVID-19 {dollars} on these tasks would release funds from infrastructure-specific laws for bigger tasks versus day-to-day operations.

Public well being measures seeing cuts

The CBO mentioned a major quantity of the rescinded funds would come from regionally administered however federally funded tasks, together with rental help and assist applications for underdeveloped well being techniques.

Nationwide League of Cities Legislative Director Mike Gleeson mentioned the NLC is not involved that native and state governments are in jeopardy of dropping funds allotted to them by the federal authorities however not but obligated inside the jurisdiction.

Some public well being consultants, nonetheless, are involved that reclaiming unused COVID-19 funds signifies that this cash can not be spent on making ready well being techniques for future epidemics, comparable to rising charges of sexually transmitted infections. Govt Director of the Nationwide Coalition of STD Administrators David Harvey instructed Politico: “In the event that they in the reduction of that cash, it’ll set us again 15 years. … If that funding is taken away, immediately, in a single day, we are going to lose our potential to have the boots-on-the-ground workforce to knock on doorways, do outbreak investigations, navigate folks by means of the well being care system, and assist folks get examined and handled.”

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Classes instantly associated to the COVID-19 response which are being lowered embody home manufacturing of vaccines and private protecting tools, strengthening rural and Native American well being techniques, and stopping zoonotic illness outbreaks.

More likely to be saved within the compromise

Reclaiming unspent COVID-19 funds is among the few areas of bipartisan assist, with Biden earlier this month stating that he’s prepared to barter on that time.

Well being and Human Companies Secretary Xavier Becerra careworn that COVID-19 preparedness continues to be a prime precedence for his division regardless of the top of the general public well being emergency earlier this month.

Home Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) mentioned earlier this month: “If the cash was licensed to battle the pandemic however was not spent in the course of the pandemic, it shouldn’t be spent after the pandemic is over.”

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