Senate prioritizes mask tantrums and messing around with the clock over dealing with COVID

That bill is nowhere on the House’s radar and likely never will be—the current mandate ends next month anyway. Neither is the daylight savings bill, which they call the “Sunshine Protection Act.” Because that’s how ridiculous these people are, Democrats and Republicans. All of them, because this was a bipartisan effort. As if the Senate could stop night from falling. As if the sun were under threat. As if the US Congress actually had the power to create more daylight hours. Anyway, the House has more important things to be dealing with, like trying to figure out how to get that COVID funding to the administration.

It’s not likely they’ll get any Republican help. The chair of the House Republican Conference, the truly odious Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, is too busy having a spat with New York City Mayor Eric Adams over chocolate milk. Literally. She has introduced legislation to force schools to offer chocolate milk. And brags on her official taxpayer-funded website that she did it as a “shot at Mayor Adams.” Grudge matches and trolling is all that Republicans are capable of doing, even over the most trivial of things.

While they’re over on one side playing games, they’re about to be swept by another wave of COVID. At least nine Democratic House members tested positive following the party retreat in Philadelphia at the end of last week. Second gentleman Doug Emhoff tested positive Tuesday, requiring Vice President Kamala Harris to quickly cancel her appearances for the remainder of the day. She had appeared with President Biden at a Tuesday morning event, but has tested negative. So, yes, no one should ignore the urgency of getting this funding in and the government prepped to keep responding.

Republicans remain reluctant to provide any new funding for the pandemic response despite the growing evidence of another wave coming. “As I’ve said all along, I don’t know if we need any money,” Sen. Richard C. Shelby (AL), the top Republican on the Appropriations Committee, told reporters. He described the White House’s urgent request as “a statement” and added, “We’d like to see the particulars.” A Senate GOP aid told The Washington Post that this was just a “political stunt” by the White House.

There is some movement in that body on the pandemic. The Senate Health Committee voted to pass a pandemic preparedness bill, 20-2. It would create an independent task force to examine the government’s response to COVID-19 from the beginning; make the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director a Senate-confirmed position; and establish an Office of Pandemic Preparedness and Response Policy within the executive office of the president. It doesn’t come with any funding, but at least Republicans are willing to do that much.

One Republican, Sen. Roy Blunt (MO), is not entirely unreasonable when it comes to the funding request. He’s the ranking member on the Appropriations subcommittee for health. He’s open to spending new money rather than yanking it from existing programs, provided there’s complete accounting from the White House. “My advice to them is be as transparent as you can possibly be with what money’s left and where it would be spent, if it’s spent the way it was designated, and how much money you need, and how long that will last,” Blunt said.

That’s one Republican. The Democrats need nine more thanks to Democrats Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, who continue to refuse to even consider ending the Senate filibuster for anything. But hey, they can pat themselves on the back for achieving the pretense that they control time.

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