Republican Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar has introduced an expedited joint resolution to end the ongoing COVID-19 national emergency.
Former President Donald Trump invoked the National Emergencies Act (NEA) in March 2020, and President Joe Biden extended it in February. Gosar’s resolution will force a vote in which Congress will decide whether or not to extend the emergency further.
“Over a year later, with cases falling, vaccine rates rising, and states reopening, it is prudent for Congress to consider the merit of the emergency continuation,” Rep. Gosar told the Daily Caller. “I have always said, good process, makes good policy, which makes good politics. Ensuring Congress adheres to good process is the foundation for an effective government, and I am proud to introduce this resolution to restore Congressional role in emergency powers.”
READ THE RESOLUTION HERE:
The NEA grants additional powers to the president to utilize outside times of war or natural disasters, but Congress is mandated to re-approve the invocation of the NEA every six months after it is first deployed by the executive. During COVID-19, Congress has waived that power, allowing the emergency to go on indefinitely.
Once Gosar’s resolution is approved by the parliamentarian, it will be referred to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, which will have 15 days to report the bill. If it does not report the bill, Gosar can take the resolution to the House floor, where it will become subject to a vote within three days. (RELATED: Where’s The CDC Guidance For People Who Recovered From COVID-19?)
Co-sponsors of the resolution, all Republicans, include Montana Rep. Matt Rosendale, Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie, Texas Reps. Chip Roy and Randy Weber, South Carolina Rep. Ralph Norman and Florida Rep. Brian Mast.
“Too often, government policy and basic reality don’t align. The vaccine is here, it is available, and the emergency is over, but on paper, the emergency continues,” Rep. Rosendale told the Daily Caller. “It’s time for the Congress to step up as a equal branch of government, make the paper match up with the facts, and vote formally to end the emergency powers that have impeded the freedoms of so many Americans in the name of fighting the pandemic.”
The emergency powers used by the executive branch so far during the pandemic include provisions in Section 1135 of the Social Security Act, which allows the Secretary of HHS to waive or modify certain requirements of Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, and HIPAA. The Education Department has also used the declaration to allow for waivers for parties to federal student loans.
President Biden could further use the emergency to expand executive powers until Congress votes to end it.