Pelosi Removed COVID Funding From Bill As Democrat Leaders Continue To Balk

( House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was dealt a major blow this week when she was forced to remove pandemic relief funding from Congress’ omnibus budget for fiscal year 2022 after members of her own party opposed the package.

Democrats in the House will now wait until at least next week to consider an emergency funding package for the country’s ongoing response to the pandemic that would stand all on its own. Many rank-and-file members of the Democratic Party in the House were opposed to offsets that were included in the pandemic relief portion of the $1.5 trillion omnibus bill.

Liberals are working to craft a new $15.6 billion package for pandemic relief that will not be part of the omnibus bill. It’s very similar to the one that was part of the omnibus package, but it won’t include $7 billion that was originally set to be offset by rescinding any state aid that was appropriated in 2021 but still hasn’t been used yet.

Democratic Representative Rosa DeLauro, chair of the House Appropriations Committee, said the House would vote on this new version of the pandemic relief package separately from the omnibus bill.

Pelosi announced the decision to remove the pandemic package from the omnibus bill by writing a letter to her Democratic colleagues Wednesday afternoon. That came after some members of her own party threatened to vote no for a procedural rule that would have been necessary to advance the omnibus bill.

If that were to have happened, it would have taken a while for the House to work through getting the omnibus package passed. And that bill is necessary to fund the federal government through September of this year.

This move had to be extremely disappointing for Pelosi and the Democrats, who spent the last few weeks negotiating with Republicans to craft the omnibus bill, which included $15.6 billion in new funding for COVID-19 therapeutics and vaccines.

Republicans insisted that if that money were to be included in the bill, it would have to be offset in part by tapping into pandemic relief aid that was allocated already from previous bills but hasn’t been spent yet. Included among that was almost $7.1 billion in state relief funds.

Democrats didn’t seem to have a problem including those offsets into the bipartisan omnibus bill that they were about to present. But, once members of their own party started pushing back, liberal leaders tried to place the blame on its failure to the GOP.

As DeLauro said in a statement this week:

“Sadly, Republicans have insisted on offsets for those emergency resources that some Democratic Members cannot support. To complete our work on the omnibus today, we are removing the coronavirus supplemental funding and considering it as standalone legislation without any problematic offsets.”

Even though the Democrats are stripping the bill from the omnibus, it seems unlikely the standalone bill would pass through the Senate. Many Republicans in the House are saying the coronavirus relief funds aren’t fully offset, even after that’s what was promised to them.