02.01.2023 0

Biden says he wants to end the Covid national and public health emergencies, but not for 60 days, opposes House GOP legislation to end them now

By Robert Romano

Just two weeks after extending the Department of Health and Human Services’ public health emergency for the Covid pandemic, and with imminent Congressional legislation by House Republicans to compel the end of both the national and public health emergencies put into place originally by former President Donald Trump in 2020, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has announced President Joe Biden’s intent to end these emergencies on May 11.

That is, after a 60-day supposed “wind-down” of the authorities, according a Jan. 30 OMB release stating President Joe Biden’s opposition to H.J. Res. 7 and H.R. 382, which would end the respective national and public health emergencies via legislation—and importantly involve members of Congress’ input.

“[E]nding these emergency declarations in the manner contemplated by H.R. 382 and H.J. Res. 7 would have two highly significant impacts on our nation’s health system and government operations,” citing supposed “chaos” that would ensue both in federal and state health systems, and ending Title 42 public health expulsions of illegal immigrants—the latter of which the Biden administration would have ended already if not for federal court and Supreme Court decisions.

The release stated, “First, an abrupt end to the emergency declarations would create wide-ranging chaos and uncertainty throughout the health care system — for states, for hospitals and doctors’ offices, and, most importantly, for tens of millions of Americans… Second, the end of the public health emergency will end the Title 42 policy at the border. While the Administration has attempted to terminate the Title 42 policy and continues to support an orderly lifting of those restrictions, Title 42 remains in place because of orders issued by the Supreme Court and a district court in Louisiana. Enactment of H.R. 382 would lift Title 42 immediately, and result in a substantial additional inflow of migrants at the Southwest border.”

The statement concluded, “The Administration strongly opposes enactment of H.R. 382 and H.J. Res. 7, which would be a grave disservice to the American people.”

In other words, because Biden and the federal government have resisted both ending the Covid emergencies much sooner, even though the fatality rate for the virus has continued to plummet throughout the pandemic, and even as the administration claims to have been “preparing” for just these outcomes, now they claim that the so-called 60-day “wind-down” is somehow necessary to get alternative resources in place.

It’s nonsense. What this is really about is whether the government is going to operate as a constitutional federal republic as it should, with the separation of powers, where Congress plays the vital role in setting the nation’s laws — or the presidential system that has emerged in modern times as Congress outsourced much of its powers to an ever-expanding administrative state that invariably used Covid to enact draconian economic lockdowns and to justify spending, borrowing and printing more than $6 trillion to fight the pandemic.

Supporting the legislation, Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning noted that whatever deadly emergency was occurring has long since passed, citing the decreasing fatality rates, “The fact is, the virus is much less deadly than it was in 2020. When the pandemic began, estimated cases peaked in March 2020 at 157,000 per day, and then daily fatalities peaked by April 17 at 2,328 daily, about a 1.47 percent fatality rate, according to IHME. Today, fatalities in the U.S. reached about 645 daily deaths on Jan. 11, out of 1.7 million peak daily new cases from December, a 0.037 percent fatality rate.”

That’s significant, but it did not happen suddenly. Even after vaccines and other treatments were widely available to the general public, and the economic lockdowns and school closures had long since ended, and repeated calls by Congress—legislation ending the emergencies passed the House and Senate last year—the fatality rates had already fallen off a cliff.

Manning praised Congressional Republicans who have been pushing for this legislation for more than a year now: “Americans for Limited Government praises House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise and U.S. Reps. Paul Gosar and Brett Guthrie for offering legislation that will bring an end to the official Covid emergency, long after the actual emergency has passed. The pandemic is over, and it is time Congress said so.”

As for Title 42 at the border, perhaps if Biden would simply finish the border wall Trump began, and resume the Remain in Mexico policy put into place by Trump that it terminated, there wouldn’t be such an emergency at the border, with millions of illegal immigrants crossing into the U.S. thanks to Biden’s inattention and incapacity to defend America’s borders and its rampant catch and release policies. Biden owns that, too.

Is Biden saying he can secure the border in 60 days? That’s interesting. He’s had 24 months. We’ll believe it when we see it. Resume Remain in Mexico, end catch and release and finish the wall — or perhaps let Congress get involved, since apparently Biden says he needs help now. What a joke.

The American people have tolerated just about as much as they can of a totalitarian system that governed whether they could attend their loved ones funerals, kept disabled children who needed full-time care and special education, and healthy students, too, locked in their homes for months on end and turned the U.S. economy into a shell of its former self. And so, with Biden’s 2024 reelection campaign looming, the White House is reading public opinion polling and sticking its finger in the air, sensing that the American people are ready to move on.

In other words, perhaps Biden wants credit for “ending” the pandemic politically. But not before the arbitrary, supposedly necessary 60-day “wind-down”. Now, if that’s the hill the administration wants to die on, by all means oppose, block or veto legislation that would end the emergencies in consultation with the American people’s elected representatives, and insist on the arbitrary, executive and administrative approach that locked Americans in their homes in the first place. See how much credit you get for it then.

Robert Romano is the Vice President of Public Policy at Americans for Limited Government.

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