Rep. Susie Lee, Problem Solvers Caucus Call for an Immediate Vote on a $160 Billion Vaccine Distribution Package, as Broader Bipartisan Talks & Reconciliation Process Continue
Today, the 56 member House Problem Solvers Caucus called for an immediate vote on the $160 billion "Defeating COVID-19" vaccine distribution package, as the broader bipartisan talks and reconciliation process continues. The plan was formally endorsed by the Caucus.
The "Defeating COVID-19" vaccine distribution package would allocate new federal investment funds for the national distribution and administration of the COVID-19 vaccine, as well as support for expanded testing programs, PPE purchases, and other key initiatives to beat this deadly virus. The package shares similarities with the vaccine portion of the "Direct COVID Pandemic Response" portion of President Biden's American Rescue Plan and ongoing negotiations. Should negotiations around other portions of a new COVID-19 relief package take longer, whether that's through a bipartisan agreement or reconciliation, this separate $160 billion investment would immediately help boost vaccine deployment and testing nationwide.
The "Defeating COVID-19" Vaccine Distribution Package:
Total - $160B
National Vaccine Program in partnership with states, tribes, and territories: $20B
Massive expansion of testing: $50B
Disaster Relief Fund: $30B
Defense Production Act Title III: $5B
PPE for first responders, independent physicians offices, and dentists: $5B
Rebuilding and restocking the National Strategic Stockpile: $15B
Provider Relief Fund with 20% set aside for rural hospitals: $35B
"While I will continue to advocate for a robust COVID relief package that includes direct stimulus checks to hardworking families, resources to help our businesses recover, funding to reopen our schools, and more, it is clear that such a robust package is going to take time. In the meantime, we know that the path out of this pandemic is through swift vaccine distribution -- that's something we can all agree on, regardless of political party. The Nevada economy has been ravaged by this pandemic, and we must do everything we can to put this pandemic behind us and get our economy back on track as quickly as possible. That's why I am joining my Republican and Democratic colleagues in the Problem Solvers Caucus to prioritize this vaccine-boosting package," said Rep. Susie Lee.
"The emergency COVID-19 relief package that the Problem Solvers Caucus helped negotiate this past December was a down payment on what our nation needed. Unless a new bipartisan deal is struck, I will continue to support the reconciliation process for more COVID-19 relief. I believe we must allocate additional resources for direct checks to families and supplemental unemployment, investment for state and local government and schools, and broadband and child care. That said, I believe we should immediately address, without delay, the need for boosting vaccine distribution and testing in New Jersey and nationwide. We simply cannot afford to wait weeks upon weeks to get more vaccines out the door," said Problem Solvers Caucus Co-Chair Josh Gottheimer.
"We continue to support ongoing, bipartisan talks for a targeted stimulus package. Unfortunately, regardless of whether stimulus goes the way of bipartisanship or reconciliation, it is clear either path will take time," said Problem Solvers Caucus Co-Chair Tom Reed. "We simply do not have time to spare when the lives of the American people are at stake as new variants of the virus are emerging daily. For the sake of protecting the lives of our fellow Americans, we must unite and act now in support of vaccines. By quickly increasing federal funding for testing, vaccine distribution, and other key initiatives, we can get more shots in arms, safely reopen our economy, and finally defeat this virus. Congress and the Biden Administration must work together to immediately pass this vaccine-boosting package and prioritize the health and safety of the American people."
"Local health departments and states must have the resources they need to rapidly deploy vaccines across our communities. As we move forward with a comprehensive relief package, Congress should immediately pass bipartisan, stand-alone legislation focused on vaccine production and distribution," said Problem Solvers Caucus Vice Chair Abigail Spanberger. "There's no time to delay in meeting this moment -- and the Problem Solvers Caucus is ready to play a strong role in the federal effort to save lives, increase vaccine supply, build our economic recovery, and prevent vulnerable communities from falling behind."
"The American people are depending on us to unite and take action on vaccine distribution," said Problem Solvers Caucus Vice Chair Brian Fitzpatrick. "While I continue to fully support the bipartisan efforts for more COVID relief, we simply cannot afford to wait any longer to get vaccines in the arms of our citizens. Our bipartisan, bicameral $160 billion "Defeating COVID-19" vaccine distribution package will immediately boost vaccine deployment, expand testing programs and PPE purchases, and other key initiatives critical to beating this virus and allow us to safely reopen our economy nationwide."
"We are living through one of the worst public health emergencies and economic downturns in American history," said Problem Solvers Caucus Vice Chair Dean Phillips. "Last year, the Problem Solvers Caucus proved to the nation that thoughtful Democrats and Republicans can come together to deliver bipartisan solutions. We can and will continue that work, but the COVID-19 virus won't wait for us to compromise. A well-funded, better coordinated federal vaccine distribution program will save lives and livelihoods if we act now. This is a crisis, and we must urgently meet the moment as the more complete package moves through Congress and to the President's desk."
Problem Solvers Caucus Vice Chair Jaime Herrera Beutler said, "Safely getting our economy back on its feet and people back to work needs to be our focus, and that means prioritizing the delivery of vaccines to our communities. That's exactly what this legislation will do. This doesn't replace our need for additional bipartisan COVID-19 relief legislation, but this bipartisan Problem Solvers package would ensure we're boosting immunity while we negotiate and finalize the other relief efforts."
"It's become increasingly clear that the number one need right now in the battle against COVID-19 is vaccine distribution," said Rep. Dave Joyce. "We must act quickly to address this need - the lives and livelihoods of the American people are at stake. By increasing federal funding for vaccine distribution, testing and relief for hospitals, we can provide more vaccinations, defeat this virus, get our kids back in school, and safely reignite our economy. I call on the Biden Administration and my fellow colleagues in Congress to work together and immediately pass this package so that we can prioritize the health of the American people and restore our way of life."
"I'm proud to join my colleagues on the Problem Solvers Caucus in our continued efforts to break through the partisan gridlock of Congress and deliver real results for the American people. In order to fully re-open our economy and defeat this virus once and for all, Congress must pass increased funding for testing and vaccine distribution for our constituents. With the health and livelihoods of Long Islanders hanging in the balance, I am joining my colleagues in calling for an immediate vote on this bipartisan package," said Rep. Andrew Garbarino.
"Congress needs to show the American people that we can work together to bring bipartisan relief during COVID-19. Lives and livelihoods are on the line. We need vaccine funding now and cannot afford to wait on negotiations for a larger stimulus package," said Rep. Young Kim. "This targeted Defeating COVID-19 distribution package includes funding for vaccines, tests, PPE and other COVID-19 supplies that will directly serve the American people and that both sides of the aisle can come together to pass. I am proud to support these bipartisan priorities and urge my colleagues to come together and make the government work for the people again."
"Nothing is more important in the fight against COVID-19 than getting as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible," said Rep. Tom Malinowski. "If we can provide the funding to ramp up testing and vaccinations in a bipartisan way, I support doing that immediately, while we continue to use budget reconciliation -- or forge further bipartisan consensus -- to approve other critical programs that President Biden has proposed."
Rep. Tony Gonzales said, "Vaccine distribution should be the country's number one priority while we combat this pandemic. The path to full recovery from this virus will take time but getting shots in arms quickly and efficiently is a huge step towards safely reopening the country."
"Each vaccination is a step towards combating the spread of COVID-19 and getting our economy back on track. This targeted vaccine distribution package will help get Americans back to work by providing support to get vaccines into people's arms as quickly as possible," said Rep. Tom Rice.
Rep. Jared Golden said, "Congress should vote on urgently needed vaccine distribution funding immediately. We can quickly pass a bipartisan funding bill to set up the community vaccination centers, mobile vaccination units, and deployment of thousands of public health workers we need to get more shots in arms now. With a clear path to a fast, effective, and bipartisan solution to ramp up vaccinations in this country, there is simply no excuse for leadership to delay."
"As our nation continues responding to this novel virus, it is clear more targeted resources are critical to detect, report, and ultimately stop the spread of COVID-19. As a member of both the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus and of the Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee, I am proud to support such prudent steps to equip our health care heroes and local public health authorities with additional tools to protect the health and well-being of our communities," said Rep. John Curtis.
"The only way we can stop the spread of this virus and end this pandemic is through massive vaccination efforts," said Rep. Peter Meijer. "It is going to take some time to address all of the policy proposals some of my colleagues and President Biden have indicated they would like passed in response to the economic and public health crisis. When it comes to vaccines and testing, however, Americans cannot wait. In my district, our healthcare providers have the capabilities to vaccinate tens of thousands of individuals a day, but they are hampered by supply limitations. I am proud to support this bipartisan vaccine package that prioritizes rapid access to vaccines and testing supplies and reinforces Congress' commitment to the health of Americans across the country."
"Now that vaccines and treatments are available, we must focus our efforts on re-opening the economy and returning children to the classroom," Rep. Anthony Gonzalez said. "This bipartisan agreement speeds up vaccine distribution and administration in a safe and timely manner, supports our frontline healthcare workers, and ensures every American has access to fast testing. With bipartisan action such as the latest Problem Solvers Caucus proposal, we can quickly defeat this virus and end the COVID-19 pandemic."
Rep. Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon said, "COVID-19 has affected the lives of many Americans and has significantly impacted the economy of our nation. We must ensure we continue to provide resources like testing and vaccines to our communities in order to contain and eventually end this pandemic. I strongly support the majority vote of the Problem Solver Caucus for the vaccine distribution package."
"We can't allow vaccine production and distribution to get stagnated by partisan gridlock when we have a bipartisan consensus on this," said Rep. Don Bacon. "Nothing will stop the spread of COVID-19 or any of its variants better than getting vaccines out to the American people. This plan will ensure states have the resources necessary to curb the spread of the virus by ramping up testing, providing PPE to our front-line workers, and efficiently getting out the vaccine. We can work on and pass these areas of consensus while negotiating other parts of the emergency relief package."