The White House opposes a bill that would end the COVID-19 national emergency, it announced March 3, hours before a Senate vote was planned on the measure.
Senate Joint Resolution 38 would terminate the emergency declared by former President Donald Trump on March 13, 2020, which was extended multiple times by President Joe Biden.
Terminating the declaration would “unnecessarily and abruptly curtail the ability of the Administration to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the Executive Office of the President said in a statement.
“COVID-19 has posed an unprecedented public health challenge for the United States. Although we have made tremendous progress in combating the virus and are moving forward safely, the virus continues to pose a risk to the American people and our health care system. We must also be prepared for possible future variants,” it added.
Passing the bill “would be a reckless and costly mistake,” the White House said, adding that if Congress does pass it, Biden will veto it.
A vote is scheduled on the bill at approximately 2 p.m. in Washington.
Trump invoked the emergency in 2020 and Biden extended it once in February 2021 and again before it was set to expire on March 1. Declaring an emergency enables presidents to take certain actions, including closing crossings along the southern and northern borders.
Biden said in a recent statement that the COVID-19 pandemic “continues to cause significant risk to the public health and safety of the nation.”
Under the National Emergencies Act, Congress is able to determine whether such an emergency should continue.
Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) introduced the resolution in February.
Marshall argued during an appearance on Fox News that the sharp drop in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in recent weeks means the emergency is over.
“With COVID cases and hospitalizations on the decline, 94 percent of Americans having immunity to COVID, mask mandates falling by the wayside, and 70 percent of Americans agreeing ‘it’s time we accept that COVID is here to stay’ and that ‘we just need to get on with our lives,’ it’s clear we need new approach to COVID as we learn to live with it. That new approach starts with putting an end to the COVID national state of emergency,” Marshall, a doctor, said.
The continuation of the emergency is one reason trucker convoys are headed to the Washington area, in addition to COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
It’s unclear whether the evenly divided Senate will pass the bill, as virtually all Democrats have supported Biden’s moves during the pandemic.
In a vote on March 2, Republicans passed a measure that would block enforcement of the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate. No Democrats voted for the resolution.
Democrats control the House of Representatives, which would have to approve any measure the Senate does for it to be sent to the president’s desk.
Congress can only override a veto if two-thirds of both the House and Senate vote to do so.