COVID-19 Relief: Golden Announces Vote Against Starting Lengthy Budget Reconciliation Process Unless Congress Immediately Passes Vaccine Funding
WASHINGTON — Congressman Jared Golden (ME-02) today announced his intention to vote against sending instructions to committees to begin work on budget reconciliation unless congressional leaders agree to hold an immediate vote to pass funding to speed up COVID-19 vaccine distribution and production.
House passage of the resolution will start a lengthy process — called budget reconciliation — that Democratic leaders have chosen to advance COVID-19 relief legislation. While Congress could likely pass standalone funding for desperately needed vaccine distribution and production today, the budget reconciliation process could hold up that funding for weeks or months.
Golden released the following statement announcing his vote:
“Today, congressional leaders are bringing a procedural vote to the floor to begin committee work on the president’s proposed package to address the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. President Biden’s proposal has merit, but it needs some improvements. My greatest concern is that Congress is not acting with enough speed to ramp up COVID vaccinations across the country.
“Congress should vote on and pass the vaccine funding requested by the Biden Administration immediately. Instead, the budget reconciliation process chosen by congressional leaders will be a weeks- or even months-long process. Any delay in ramping up vaccinations should be unacceptable to a president who seeks to prove that his administration can effectively govern the nation through this crisis, and it should be morally unacceptable to members of Congress whose constituents remain at risk each day.
“If vaccine funding were given a vote today, it would pass with resounding support and could be on the president’s desk by the end of the day. Why wait? Are leaders holding vaccine funding hostage now out of fear they won’t otherwise have the votes for reconciliation? Whatever their reasoning, I will not support this week’s procedural votes to begin the budget reconciliation process unless the vaccine funds are fast-tracked.
“Less than two percent of the U.S. population has been fully vaccinated, and only another eight percent has been partially vaccinated. With more than 100,000 new cases and 3,000 deaths from COVID-19 each day, speeding up the delivery of vaccines to the American people should be the government’s top priority.” - Congressman Jared Golden (ME-02)
Budget reconciliation allows the majority party to pass certain legislation in the Senate without needing 60 votes, but a history of the budget reconciliation has shown the process to be time-consuming. According to the Congressional Research Service, the average reconciliation process takes about five months. The fastest process was completed in four weeks.
There is substantial bipartisan agreement around the need for and scope of vaccine funding. Both the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief proposal put forward by the Biden Administrationand the smaller package put forward by a group of 10 Republican senators contain $20 billion to embark on a national vaccination plan that includes launching community vaccination centers and mobile vaccination units to hard-to-reach areas. With the support of congressional leaders, a bill to provide $20 billion in COVID-19 relief could quickly pass both houses of Congress.