WASHINGTON, March 30 (AP) — President Joe Biden will not veto a Republican-led measure to end the national COVID emergency despite expressing strong dissent earlier this year to ensure the bill would easily become a law.
It marks the second time in the new Congress that the Biden administration has voiced opposition to a Republican measure, summoning a majority of Democrats in Congress to vote against it, only to soften its stance and allow the legislation to eventually become law.
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Just weeks ago, Biden stunned many of his fellow Democrats by refusing to veto a Republican-led bill to overturn a new D.C. penal code that he and others in the president’s party opposed as local governments became law.
Republicans on Wednesday celebrated the turn of events as a sign of their newfound clout in a divided Washington, while Democrats quietly complained that the Biden administration had changed its mind.
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But the White House stood firm, and the Senate ultimately passed the bill 68 to 23, sending the bill to Biden’s desk.
When House Republicans first prepared to vote on the bill early in the year, they were supposed to lift the national emergency declaration in response to the coronavirus pandemic in February, a White House official said.
But now, it’s moving closer to the White House’s own plan to end the COVID-19 national emergency on May 11.
The president remains strongly opposed to the legislation, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. But if the bill comes to Biden’s desk, he will sign it, the official said.
Before the vote, one of the bill’s leading sponsors, Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), said he hoped “the rumors are true — the president will eventually sign this legislation.”
The legislation is a simple one-line measure that states that the state of emergency declared on March 13, 2020 “is hereby terminated”.
It comes from one of the more conservative Republicans in the House, Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona, and draws on Republican-led opposition to mask mandates, lockdowns and other precautions taken to stem the spread of the virus during the pandemic. It was one of the early bills introduced by the new House Republicans at the beginning of the year.
At the time, the government warned that the proposal would cause confusion. More than 197 Democrats in the House voted against it.
“The abrupt end of the emergency declaration will create widespread confusion and uncertainty throughout the health care system — to states, hospitals and physician offices, and most importantly, to tens of millions of Americans,” the government said in a statement. For the sake of this.” Official Statement of Administrative Policy.
Days before the House vote, the Biden administration announced its own plan to end the state of emergency on May 11, three years after the virus outbreak.
The administration’s announcement means that the federal coronavirus response will be viewed more as an endemic threat to public health that can be managed through agencies’ normal purview than as a pandemic.
Just a few weeks ago, Biden signed another Republican-led bill that would invalidate the District of Columbia’s changes to its criminal code. The government has previously expressed opposition to the bill.
On Wednesday, Republicans on the House Oversight Committee voted to overturn a police reform package passed by the District of Columbia Assembly. (Associated Press)
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