CORRECTION: This article has been updated to reflect the fact that more Democrats have joined Republicans in voting for the resolution.
The Republican-controlled House on Wednesday passed a resolution that would immediately end the COVID-19 national emergency first declared in March 2020, ignoring the Biden administration’s announcement that the declaration would expire in May.
The joint resolution cleared the House by 229 votes to 197. Eleven Democrats voted with Republicans in support of the measure: Reps. Angie Craig (Minn.), Don Davis (NC), Ruben Gallego (Ariz.), Jared Golden (Maine), Susie Lee (Nevada), Jared Moskowitz (Fla.) , Chris Pappas (NH), Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (Wash .), Pat Ryan (NY), Mikie Sherrill (NJ) and Abigail Spanberger (Va.).
The measure, which spans just over a page, would end the national COVID-19 emergency once it is enacted. However, he is not expected to move in the Senate, which is controlled by Democrats. The Biden administration has also spoken out against the measure.
House leaders announced on Friday that the resolution would be debated this week, kicking off a vote on the measure. But on Monday, the Biden administration announced that the national COVID-19 emergency would end on May 11, setting it on a collision course with the GOP majority in the House.
It was originally supposed to end on March 1, but the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) said the date would be brought forward by about two months. The administration also said the COVID-19 public health emergency, originally scheduled for April 11, will end on May 11.
The OMB in a statement argued that abruptly ending the declaration of emergency and the public health emergency “would create wide-ranging chaos and uncertainty across the healthcare system — for states, for hospitals and doctors’ offices, and most importantly , for tens of millions of Americans.”
Republicans still decided to push through with their measure Wednesday, arguing the emergency declaration needs to end sooner.
“At this point, it is no longer necessary for the declaration to use the extraordinary powers envisaged by art [National Emergencies Act] and it seems that the White House also agrees with this, but thinks we have to wait until May 11th. That logic and math just don’t feel right to me,” Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) said during the debate on the floor of the house.
A number of Republican lawmakers have pointed to Biden’s September comments, when he said that “the pandemic is over,” as the reason the emergency declaration should end immediately. The president later backtracked on those remarks, acknowledging he was criticized and saying “but it’s basically not where it was.”
Democrats, however, cited Biden’s plan to end the national emergency on May 11 and expressed opposition to the measure.
“With these complex issues still facing businesses, local leaders and the American people, it would be harmful and irresponsible to force a premature end to the flexibility afforded by the Presidential Emergency Declaration of March 2020,” said Rep. Rick Larsen (D- Wash. ) said in the courtroom after noting statistics on COVID-19 cases and deaths.
“President Biden has no intention of using these emergency powers forever. We know this because he announced his intention to end the national COVID-19 emergency on May 11th. This May deadline provides time to develop a strategic and thoughtful plan regarding the termination of these authorities. Congress need not act now before the president takes action on this issue. Forcing an end to the emergency declaration without taking into account the consequences is short-sighted and wrong,” he added.
The vote to end the emergency declaration followed Tuesday’s House vote to end the COVID-19 public health emergency. The bill cleared the house by a party vote, 220-210.
Former President Trump declared a national emergency in response to the spread of COVID-19 on March 13, 2020, a move that allowed the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to mobilize staff to support state and local agencies as they worked to fight the virus . The move also gave FEMA access to billions of dollars.
Trump had issued a notice to extend the national emergency in January 2021 and President Biden did the same in February 2022. The statement remains in effect unless the president ends it, Congress passes a joint resolution to that effect or if the president does not issue an annual extension.
— Updated at 20:43