Senate votes to end COVID-19 national emergency

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The Senate on Wednesday passed a GOP-led resolution that would end the COVID-19 national emergency that has been in place since 2020.

The measure passed the upper chamber 68-23.

A similar resolution sponsored by Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) passed the Senate last year, but it did not advance in the Democrat-controlled House. This year it passed the House 229-197, with 11 Democrats joining all Republicans.

President Biden last year threatened to veto the measure. This year, he did not threaten a veto but issued a statement of administration principles before the House vote objecting to the resolution.

On Wednesday, however, he said he would sign the measure.

“The President strongly opposes HJ Res 7, and the administration is planning to wind down the COVID national emergency and public health emergency on May 11. If this bill comes to his desk, however, he will sign it, and the administration will continue working with agencies to wind down the national emergency with as much notice as possible to Americans who could potentially be impacted,” a White House official said.

The national emergency is different from the public health emergency, though the White House will end both on May 11. Under federal law, Congress has the power to ask for periodic votes to terminate a national emergency.

President Biden used the powers under the national emergency declaration as the underpinning for his student loan forgiveness plan, which is currently tied up in court.

The initial declaration allowed the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to mobilize personnel to support state and local agencies as they worked to combat the virus. The move also allowed FEMA to access billions of dollars.

Ending the national emergency early could also terminate some of the flexibility that COBRA has been able to exercise.

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