- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 29, 2023

President Biden will not veto a Republican-led bill to end the COVID-19 national emergency, giving vulnerable Senate Democrats free rein to back or oppose the effort.

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer informed fellow Democrats of Mr. Biden’s intention on Wednesday. The move came shortly before a vote was to be held on a GOP measure to terminate immediately the national emergency declaration put into place at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.

While 11 Senate Democrats crossed party lines last November to back a similar resolution, Mr. Biden’s refusal to veto the repeal is likely to bring that number higher.

The White House’s decision is likely to benefit red-state Senate Democrats, including Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, who face tough reelection bids in 2024 but opposed the prior repeal.

The same benefit was not extended to House Democrats last month when the chamber voted on a repeal resolution. At the time, the White House opposed the push, while saying it would allow the declaration to expire on its in early May without renewal.

“If the PHE were suddenly terminated, it would sow confusion and chaos into this critical wind-down,” the White House said in a memo. “Due to this uncertainty, tens of millions of Americans could be at risk of abruptly losing their health insurance, and states could be at risk of losing billions of dollars in funding.”

Despite Mr. Biden’s opposition, 11 House Democrats bucked their party to back ending the emergency. The Senate passed two similar resolutions last Congress, but neither even got a floor vote in the then-Democratic-controlled House.

President Trump first issued a national emergency declaration regarding the coronavirus in March 2020. The maneuver made it easier for Federal Emergency Management Agency to mobilize personnel and funding to help state governments combat the virus.

For more information, visit The Washington Times COVID-19 resource page.

• Haris Alic can be reached at halic@washingtontimes.com.

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