OAN Brooke Mallory
UPDATED 12:05 PM – Thursday, March 30, 2023
A Republican-led proposal to repeal the COVID-19 national emergency, which had been in effect since 2020, was finally approved by the Senate on Wednesday.
The upper chamber approved the measure with 68 in favor to 23 in opposition.
Last year, the Senate approved a comparable measure supported by Senator Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), but the Democrat-controlled House ultimately rejected it. However, it was approved by the House this year, 229 to 197, with 11 Democrats voting in favor with the GOP.
Marshall went on to explain how the COVID-19 national emergency “allowed the administration to justify increased spending and push harmful mandates.”
“Emergency powers are given to the executive branch so the commander in chief has the flexibility to quickly act in the event of a crisis… That declaration was appropriate in 2020, but now it’s time for the proper constitutional checks and balances to be restored. It’s time to end any and all authoritarian control and unilateral spending decisions without congressional consent,” Marshall maintained.
The proposal was threatened with a veto by President Biden in 2022, but instead of threatening a veto this year, he finally objected to the resolution in a statement of executive principles before the House vote.
On Wednesday, he declared that he will sign the bill and officially end the emergency.
“The President strongly opposes HJ Res 7, and the administration is planning to wind down the COVID national emergency and public health emergency on May 11th. If this bill comes to his desk, however, he will sign it, and the administration will continue working with agencies to wind down the national emergency with as much notice as possible to Americans who could potentially be impacted,” said a White House official.
The public health emergency and the national emergency are separate from each other, although the White House will end both emergencies on May 11th. According to federal law, Congress has the authority to call for votes on a regular basis to end a national emergency.
President Biden’s plan to forgive student loans, which is now tied up in court and is not expected to happen, was supported by the authority granted by the declaration of a national emergency.
When the emergency was first declared, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was able to assemble personnel to assist both local and state governments in their efforts to combat the virus. The action also gave FEMA access to billions of funds.
Early termination of the state of emergency could also result in COBRA losing some of its flexibility.
COBRA is the Civil Contingencies Committee that is convened to handle matters of a national emergency or major disruption.