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WASHINGTON -- The House of Representatives passed a revised version of President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan Wednesday. The legislation, which already moved through the Senate, includes critical money for COVID-19 response efforts, including tens of billions for vaccination programs, ramping up testing and boosting supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE).
Although the final vote was largely along party lines, the funding measures for coronavirus response efforts received bipartisan backing throughout the negotiations. President Biden called for them as part of his original plan and Republican senators included them in their own COVID relief proposal.
Matthew Wellington, U.S. PIRG’s public health campaigns director, released the following statement in response:
“For the last year, health professionals have lacked sufficient access to the most basic tools to fight COVID-19. The robust funding for vaccination programs, testing and PPE production in this legislation will be a game-changer. It’s amazing and important that in this painfully partisan time those specific funding measures had bipartisan support in the negotiation process.
“Finally, we have a federal response that rises to the greatest challenge of this generation, and provides the resources to make it happen. Unfortunately, state governors threaten to squander this opportunity to squelch the virus by moving too quickly to lift restrictions and reopen. While it’s good news that vaccinations are rapidly increasing, right now only about 10 percent of Americans are fully vaccinated against the novel coronavirus. Medical experts think that number should hit around 75 percent in order to achieve ‘herd immunity’ and neutralize the virus’ hold on our daily lives.
“If we stay vigilant, we can put the worst behind us in the next couple of months. If we let our guard down now, more people will die unnecessarily.”
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