As funding dries up, the White House says US programs aimed at preventing and treating COVID-19 may be scaled back or end, NPR reports.
It notes that the $1.5 trillion spending bill passed last week did not contain funding for COVID-19 relief efforts — it initially included $15.6 billion in COVID-19 response and research funding, but that was taken out of the bill. At that time, Politico reported that Democratic lawmakers said they would pursue a separate funding bill for COVID-19 relief.
According to the New York Times, though, the White House and Congressional Republicans have reached a stalemate. It adds that Republicans say they will not approve funding unless the White House finds a way to pay for it by redirecting existing funds.
The White House has warned that the US would run out of funds for further booster shots and would have to cancel a purchase of monoclonal antibodies, NBC News says.
White House spokesperson Jen Psaki says funding is needed now so the US is prepared for future viral variants, Reuters adds. "With cases rising abroad, scientific and medical experts have been clear that in the next couple of months there could be increasing cases of COVID-19 in the United States as well," she says, according to Reuters. "Waiting to provide funding until we're in a worse spot with the virus will be too late. We need funding now so we're prepared for whatever comes."