In full transparency, the following is a media release from Sen. Ed Markey, who was elected by voters in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to serve the state in Washington DC in the US Senate. He is a Democrat. (stock photo)
WASHINGTON DC – In a letter sent to Congressional leadership yesterday, the Co-Chairs of the COVID-19 Global Vaccination Caucus called for the inclusion of $5 billion in global COVID-19 response funding in any COVID-19 supplemental package, as USAID officials have already repeatedly informed Congress that the agency expects to have fully obligated the global response funding from the American Rescue Plan Act in the coming weeks.
In their letter to Senate and House Leaders, Senators Edward Markey (MA), Jeffrey Merkley (OR), Tina Smith (MN), and Elizabeth Warren (MA) joined with Representatives Raja Krishnamoorthi (IL-08), Tom Malinowski (NJ-07), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Jake Auchincloss (MA-04), and Mark Pocan (WI-02) to cite the consistent and bipartisan interest in global COVID-19 vaccination funding, the low rates of vaccination in lower-income nations, and the enduring risk of more deadly new variants emerging if large populations are left unvaccinated.
A signed copy of the letter is available here and its full text follows below:
Leader Schumer, Speaker Pelosi, Leader McConnell, Leader McCarthy,
As Co-Chairs of the bicameral COVID-19 Global Vaccination Caucus, we urge you to work together to urgently pass legislation providing $5 billion in global COVID-19 response funding. USAID officials have notified Congress on several occasions that the agency expects to have fully obligated in the coming weeks the global response funding the agency received from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
We remain gravely concerned that a failure to prioritize global vaccination could allow the emergence 7of future variants that will threaten our own national security, lives around the world, and undermine the American business recovery. As the White House highlighted in its letter to Congress today, “leaving large unvaccinated populations worldwide will increase the risk of new deadly variants emerging that could evade our current vaccines and treatments.” As a result, we were disappointed to see that the COVID-19 supplemental funding was stripped out of the FY22 omnibus, and while we understand there are issues that need to be resolved, we strongly urge that any additional COVID-19 supplemental funding or package include the global COVID-19 response.
Over the last year, members of Congress have sent multiple letters attesting to the exceedingly strong and bipartisan support in Congress for the American-led global pandemic response:
- A letter sent on August 4th, 2021, calling for $34 billion for the global response in the Build Back Better Act was signed by 116 Members
- A bipartisan letter sent on October 22nd, 2021, calling for an expanded US role in the global response and signed by a bipartisan group of 14 Senators
- A letter sent on December 16, 2021, calling for $17 billion in the FY22 omnibus and signed by over 80 Members
- A bipartisan letter sent on March 7, 2022 to appropriators was signed by a group of 10 Members on the House Foreign Affairs, Intelligence and Armed Services Committees
- A bipartisan letter sent on March 8, 2022 to Senate leadership from 8 Senators, pointing to the Ukraine crisis’ role in highlighting the need for US leadership in the global COVID fight
Given this widespread support for the global COVID-19 pandemic response, we strongly urge you to fight for the full $5 billion requested by the administration. We are willing to do whatever we need to help secure a bipartisan agreement in Congress to pass this crucial funding. It is our duty and in our own self-interest to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic in low- and lower-middle-income countries around the world. In this moment of geopolitical upheaval, American global leadership is needed more than ever, but we need the funding to meet this challenge.