Blue Dogs Call for Vote on Standalone Bill on COVID Vaccines
WASHINGTON – The Blue Dog Coalition is calling for a vote on a standalone bill focused on the vaccine development and distribution portion of President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan.
In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, the co-chairs of the coalition – Reps. Stephanie Murphy, of Florida, Ed Case, of Hawaii, and Tom O’Halleran, of Arizona, say many Americans are desparate for access to the vaccine.
Biden’s plan calls for $20 billion in vaccine funding from Congress. The president has said he wants to deliver 100 million vaccinations in the first 100 days of his administration.
The standalone vote could take place “while Congress continues to craft and move forward with a comprehensive COVID-19 relief package.”
“Under our recommended approach, we would consider this vaccine-focused bill in parallel with the reconciliation process,” the coalition co-chairs write. “We believe this simultaneous, two-track process is preferable to a reconciliation-only approach because—based on precedent—passing a reconciliation bill through both chambers could take several months under the most optimistic scenario.
“It is hard for us to understand why our constituents and our states should have to wait until March or even April for us to deliver essential support for our nation’s vaccination efforts, if we have the votes to pass a standalone bill this month,” they continue.
“We are proposing this course of action because we believe that a vaccine-only bill would pass both chambers faster than the larger package,” they add.
“However, if we are mistaken, and Senate Republicans block this vaccine-targeted legislation, we can simply continue to include its provisions in the reconciliation bill. We will be in the exact same position as the reconciliation process moves forward, and no time will be lost.”
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