Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday that Democrats should be willing to reallocate some unspent money from their previous pandemic relief bill to get more money to fight the coronavirus.
On CBS‘s “Face the Nation,” McConnell was asked to comment on remarks by President Biden’s chief health adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, on ABC‘s “This Week” that Congress needs to appropriate more funds for supplies of coronavirus tests, anti-vital medications and booster shots. A partisan dispute kept such funding out of the recent omnibus spending bill that funded the government through September.
“We just can’t stand still, particularly as we appear to be in somewhat of a lull in the cases,” Fauci said. “That’s no time at all to declare victory, because this virus has fooled us before and we really must be prepared for the possibility that we might get another variant and we don’t want to be caught flatfooted on that.”
McConnell said Democrats passed a $2 trillion relief bill last year, “allegedly for Covid . . . on an entirely partisan basis,” and “much of that money has yet to be spent. I’m willing to listen to the case that we need to spend more money on Covid, but they ought to reprogram some of this massive amount that was spent last year that is not out the door yet. So let’s take a look at how to pay for it, and hem we’ll be happy to decide whether or not to support it.”
McConnell is essentially repeating a proposal that House Republicans made and Democrats rejected in the spending-bill negotiations, causing pandemic funding to be dropped from the bill. The Democrats’ American Rescue Plan Act, passed about a year ago, gives local communities until 2026 to spend their allocations from it, but many communities have already decided how to use the money.