House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has floated the possibility to tack a new round of federal COVID-19 relief to a package of legislation which would fund the government past a February stopgap deadline, according to Bloomberg.
"It is clear from the opportunity that is there and the challenge that is there," Pelosi told CBS's "Face the Nation," adding that President Biden's administration "has not made a formal request for more funding."
"I believe that left to their own devices, the appropriators can get the job done," said Pelosi. "Something like additional funding can be in there, can be fenced off for emergency, as would be Covid."
"The administration has not made a formal request for more funding," @SpeakerPelosi tells @margbrennan about whether there will be another #COVID relief bill. So far, the government has spent $6 trillion on COVID aid. pic.twitter.com/ETDQcYRH1Q— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) January 9, 2022
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Last week, two senators suggested that additional relief for U.S. restaurants and other service industries hurt by the surge of infections could be added to the spending bills. Senators Ben Cardin, a Maryland Democrat and head of the Small Business Committee, and Roger Wicker, a Mississippi Republican, said they are working to build support for the plan among their colleagues. Pelosi didn’t specify what any extra funding might be used for.
Pelosi told CBS that the virus’s “resilience” means it’s spreading faster than in previous phases of the pandemic, underscoring the need for everyone “to get vaccinated, to be masked, to have spatial distancing and the rest. And to be tested, tested, tested.”
Senator Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican, blasted the administration on the Senate floor last week, saying the problem wasn’t funding but the administration’s lack of a strategy for getting a handle on the virus. Biden officials focused on vaccinations at the expense of additional testing capacity, he said.
"For a full year, the administration has focused almost exclusively on one thing, and testing and treatments have not had the attention they should have had or now that they must have," said Blunt, adding: "That failure’s come at a steep cost. Today, Americans can’t find over-the-counter tests, and the nation lacks a comprehensive, reliable testing infrastructure."
Pelosi also poured cold water on the notion that the spending bill will include an extension of the child tax credit, which expired in December.
"The Child Tax Credit, we have to have that fight, that discussion, in the Build Back Better legislation," she said. "In order to pass the Build Back Better, it’s under reconciliation, we only need 51 votes. The bill that is the appropriations bill requires 60 votes in the Senate. So we have to do what’s possible there."