“I think it would be foolish for us not to try and address this in a timely way,” Schumer said Tuesday.
The Biden Administration is reflecting a request for $16 billion to fund updated vaccinations and treatments, such as monoclonal antibodies, that may be needed to deal with the variant, according to media reports. Schumer told reporters the Biden Administration hasn’t yet requested Congress for new funding.
“The administration is not asking me for anything at this point,” Schumer said. “But if they do, I would hope we would follow their lead. Look at it carefully, but follow their lead and get something done.”
Congress has enacted five COVID aid bills costing several trillion dollars, including a $1.9 trillion COVID spending bill President Joe Biden signed in March. The last measure included more than $70 billion for vaccines, treatments, and other public health programs related to the coronavirus. Republicans did not advocate the last round of COVID spending, claiming enough had been distributed in previous bills and hundreds of billions remained unspent.
Health officials have suggested the omicron variant is highly contagious but could cause milder symptoms than other COVID variants.
Schumer is also targeting the week of Dec. 13 for a vote on President Biden’s nearly $2 trillion social spending bill — a timeline many deem wildly ambitious due to concerns raised by moderate Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), sources told The Post Tuesday.
“We had a good meeting with Senator Manchin today,” Schumer told reporters Tuesday. “We mainly talked about climate issues, and we’re going to get this bill done with 50 Democrats before Christmas. That’s our goal.
But while the Majority Leader is aspiring to move quickly on the measure, insiders say Manchin’s problems with specific provisions in the House-passed bill — as well as its possible repercussions on inflation — could submerge Schumer’s plan.
One senior Democratic source said the Senate could even be called back into session after Christmas to continue its work.
With the Senate evenly split, Democratic leaders have to keep every one of their members on board with the law to guarantee it passes via the reconciliation process — which allows them to bypass the 60-vote legislative filibuster.
“I think we all know the situation we’re in. We all know that it would only take one Democrat to tank it,” Schumer said Tuesday.