White House officials are reportedly preparing to ask Congress for tens of billions of dollars in additional COVID-19 aid.
The funding plan hasn’t been finalized but is likely to focus on COVID therapeutics — such as an antiviral pill — and ramping up vaccine distribution, sources told the Washington Post on Friday.
Money to help with the global vaccine effort is also expected to be included in the plan, the sources added.
Officials in the White House’s Office of Management and Budget and the Department of Health and Human Services are working on the longer-term spending package. The formal request is expected to be made in the coming weeks.
Sources told the outlet the additional funding is necessary due to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, which has caused a surge in COVID-19 cases. The White House has said it currently has sufficient funds to deal with the outbreak.
More than $100 billion in COVID-related spending was already approved as part of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan that was passed in March 2021.
Former President Donald Trump approved nearly $900 billion in COVID-related funding in December 2020 as part of a larger $2.3 trillion pandemic aid and spending package.
Prior to that, Congress had allocated $3 trillion to combat the pandemic in the wake of widespread shutdowns in March 2020.
It is unclear if any additional funding requests would be supported by Republican lawmakers.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Wednesday that the administration has “constant conversations” with lawmakers on additional anti-pandemic funding, but added that the US is “in a very different place than we were a year ago or six months ago.”
Reports emerged earlier this week that indicated lawmakers were discussing additional stimulus spending that would support restaurants, performance venues, gyms and minor league sports teams.