Senate Republicans will oppose President Joe Biden’s request for billions in funding to combat the COVID pandemic and the monkeypox outbreak, setting up a potential fight over a must-pass government funding bill.
“We just don’t think that’s necessary,” number two Senate Republican John Thune told reporters Tuesday. “There’s still plenty of money still swirling around from previous COVID bills.”
Democrats are looking to attach money for COVID and monkeypox as well as aid to Ukraine to a stopgap funding bill, which is needed to keep the government open past Sept. 30 and is still in the early stages of drafting. At least 10 Republican votes would be needed to move forward because of the Senate’s filibuster rule.
The White House last week asked Congress for $22 billion for COVID vaccines, testing and treatments, and $4 billion in funding for monkeypox. The Biden administration has warned that without new funding, the country would be unprepared to combat new, more virulent COVID variants should they emerge this fall.
Senator Mitt Romney, R-Utah, who earlier led unsuccessful talks on additional COVID spending, told reporters Monday he was not able to support the new White House request since it is not paid for by cuts elsewhere in government spending.
Thune said that Republicans are still looking for more details on the $14 billion in new Ukraine funding that the administration requested last week. He said that the GOP is more supportive of military aid to Ukraine than economic aid to the country and region.
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