Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kansas) says he plans to force a vote to end the national emergency declaration relating to COVID-19, even as hundreds of Americans die from the virus each day.
Marshall explained that his planned congressional resolution to end the declaration is in response to President Joe Biden’s comment on CBS’s “60 Minutes” program on Sunday that the pandemic “is over.”
“Since President Biden used his appearance on 60 Minutes to declare COVID is over, he must immediately terminate the COVID-19 national emergency declaration and wind down other emergency authorities that his Administration continues to force us to live under,” Marshall said in a statement. “The American people are fatigued and yearning to operate outside of the confines of supersized government; they long for their God-given freedoms, and for leaders to take their side.”
The Republican senator reiterated his plan to force a vote in a post on Twitter.
“We will force a vote to make this happen by ending the COVID national emergency declaration. It’s long overdue. I expect Biden’s full support,” he said.
Marshall didn’t make clear in his statement what “God-given freedoms” have been undermined by the national emergency declaration, which was implemented at the start of the pandemic in March 2020. Biden extended that declaration earlier this year, citing the “significant risk to the public health and safety of the Nation” that continues due to the pandemic.
Presidents can issue a national emergency declaration for any reason, regardless of whether or not a pandemic is taking place. Congress has previously passed laws that allow certain actions only after the declaration of a national emergency. Congress also has the power to undo emergency declarations.
“The pandemic is over,” Biden said during his “60 Minutes” interview on Sunday. “We still have a problem with COVID. We’re still doing a lot of work on it … but the pandemic is over.”
Later in the week, Biden sought to clarify his remarks, but reiterated that he believes the situation with COVID is “basically…not where it was.”
Health experts criticized Biden’s comments, including World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
“We have spent two and a half years in a long, dark tunnel, and we are just beginning to glimpse the light at the end of that tunnel,” Tedros said. “But it is still a long way off, and the tunnel is still dark with many obstacles that could trip us up if we don’t take care. We all need hope that we can — and we will — get to the end of the tunnel and put the pandemic behind us. But we’re not there yet.”
Dr. Celine Gounder, an epidemiologist with the Kaiser Family Foundation, suggested that Biden’s comments could lead Americans to reduce their cautionary approaches to the virus.
“When you have the president of the U.S. saying the pandemic is over, why would people line up for their boosters?” Gounder said to NPR. “Why would Congress allocate additional funding for these other strategies and tools? I am profoundly disappointed. I think this is a real lack of leadership.”
The pandemic continues to impact thousands of Americans daily, figures from The New York Times show.
As of Friday morning, 55,591 new cases were being reported daily on average, with more than 30,000 hospitalizations each day. More than 400 Americans are dying every day, an 8 percent increase from two weeks ago.
Vaccinations have decreased the rates of cases, hospitalizations and deaths that were seen during the height of the pandemic, but less than 7 in 10 Americans are fully vaccinated — a figure that many experts say could result in spikes of the virus come wintertime.
More than one million Americans have died due to COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.