‘This Is Science’: Pelosi Says $22.5 Billion In Extra COVID Money Is ‘Absolutely Necessary’
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 28: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks during a dedication ceremony for a new statue of Pierre L'Enfant at the U.S. Capitol on February 28, 2022. Pierre L'Enfant was a French-American military engineer who designed the initial urban plan for  Washington, DC. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi told reporters that passing the Biden administration’s supplemental funding request for $22.5 billion in COVID-19 related funding is “science.”

Speaking at a press conference Thursday, Pelosi said that the funding was “absolutely necessary,” that part of the requested funds were going toward pills that could be used as therapeutic treatment’s for COVID-19, and that she hoped Congressional Republicans would see the “wisdom” and the “science” of funding the administration’s plans.

“The appropriators will be negotiating all of this,” Pelosi said when asked by a reporter about the additional funding, and the state of negotiations over the requests. “The fact is, the $22 billion for COVID is absolutely necessary. In fact, we probably will need more as we need more therapies. One of the pieces of this [appropriations bill] is to buy the pills that will be — you get a [symptom of COVID] and you take the pill. It’s no longer about something being a sub-freezing temperature only, having a shelf life, a certain amount of — this is science, this is going forward. So I would hope that they would see the wisdom of the science of what we need to do in terms of COVID.”

“The last thing we need is more transmission,” Pelosi continued. “Transmission is where variants are created, and a new variant is a new challenge. So let’s do as much prevention or early intervention as we can.”

The Biden administration’s Office of Management and Budget sent a letter to the Speaker Wednesday asking for the supplemental funding to be included in a budget resolution before the continuing resolution ends on March 11. The letter laid out $22.5 billion dollars in temporary, supplemental funding to the Department of Health and Human Services and the State Department, which the administration claims is “needed promptly to immediately secure supply of highly effective oral antiviral treatments; to purchase monoclonal antibodies and pre-exposure prophylaxis; to continue operating critical testing initiatives and funding testing, treatments, and vaccines for the uninsured; to initiate work on a next-generation vaccine that protects against future variants; to accelerate global vaccination efforts and provide urgent humanitarian relief abroad.”

The letter outlined $18.25 billion in extra funds for the Department of Health and Human Services, including $12.2 billion to purchase oral antiviral treatments, like the COVID-19 pills currently being produced by Merck and Pfizer; more monoclonal antibodies and prophylactic treatments; and new vaccines for future COVID-19 variants, including pediatric vaccines. It also includes $2 billion for testing and $1.5 billion for “Preparing for Future Variants,” along with $1.5 billion for the Health Resources and Services Administration, and $1.05 billion for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The remaining $4.25 billion would go to the Department of State and United States Agency for International Development, for global vaccine and testing distribution and humanitarian aid.

President Joe Biden indicated he would make these requests to Congress in his State of the Union address Tuesday. He touted the effectiveness of the COVID-19 pills and said Pfizer is working to make millions of pills. He also announced the “Test to Treat” initiative so that those who test positive for COVID-19 at a pharmacy can receive pills on-site at no cost, and touted the number of free COVID-19 tests available to those who want them. He also asked the federal government to prepare for future variants by funding the continuing federal response to COVID-19. “Of course, continuing this costs money,” Biden said, “so it will not surprise you I’ll be back to see you all. I’m going to soon send a request to Congress. The vast majority of Americans have used these tools and may want to again — we may need them again. So I expect Congress — and I hope you’ll pass that quickly.”

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