Urge Congressional leadership to include funding in upcoming budget reconciliation bill, “both to save lives and to reinforce America’s leadership in combatting the pandemic worldwide.”
WASHINGTON — U.S. Representatives Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Tom Malinowski (NJ-07), and Raja Krishnamoorthi (IL-08) joined U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), and 70 lawmakers today in urging Congressional leaders to provide up to $34 billion to significantly accelerate the production of COVID-19 vaccines for global distribution. While applauding the Biden Administration’s initial steps toward a quick and equitable vaccine distribution, the lawmakers called for the upcoming budget reconciliation bill to include the funding necessary to meet the scale of the global crisis while saving lives, crushing the virus everywhere, and reinforcing America’s place as a leader in ending this deadly pandemic. The letter is written to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (CA-12).
“No investment in the fight against COVID-19 is more urgent and cost-effective now than an investment in getting the world vaccinated as quickly as possible. $34 billion is a small price to pay to help return the U.S. and global economy to normalcy, and we request that such an amount is included in the upcoming spending package,” said the lawmakers. “In rising to this challenge, we can show once again that in moments of great need, America does great things.”
The lawmakers’ call to action comes at a moment in which only one percent of people in low-income countries are vaccinated and over 6 billion people worldwide have yet to receive a dose. This is occurring as the U.S. accounts for almost 25 percent of the global economy, and controls an even larger share of the manufacturing capacity for the effective vaccines that American companies have patented. The lawmakers note that because of these circumstances, the 500 million doses already promised represent less than America’s fair share of the billions of doses needed to meet this global challenge.
The $34 billion requested is calculated based on recent estimates that indicate it will cost up to $25 billion to create enough vaccine manufacturing capacity to vaccinate 60 percent of the populations in the COVAX countries. This is in addition to $8.5 billion to ensure end-to-end delivery of the vaccines.
Today’s letter also calls for more to be done to mass produce the vaccines that American companies helped develop and then enable the rapid and equitable distribution of those vaccines to the countries in greatest need. This vision is outlined in the Nullifying Opportunities for Variants to Infect & Decimate (NOVID) Act (H.R. 3778/S.1976), which details a plan for achieving these goals through a comprehensive production and distribution strategy. The legislation was introduced in June by Reps. Krishnamoorthi (IL-08) and Jayapal (WA-07) in addition to Senators Merkley (D-Ore.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).
Last month, Reps. Jayapal (WA-07), Malinowski (NJ-07), and Krishnamoorthi (IL-08) also led more than 40 lawmakers in urging President Biden to take aggressive and immediate steps to ensure that vaccines are quickly and equitably administered around the world. The Members of Congress called on the White House to take five specific measures — from financial investments to diplomatic efforts — to achieve the goal of a rapid and equitable vaccination program while mitigating COVID-19 globally.
Today’s letter is signed by U.S. Representatives McGovern (MA-02), Deutch (FL-22), Cleaver II (MO-05), Keating (MA-9), Manning (NC-06), Costa (CA-16), Lieu (CA-33), Cicilline (RI-01), Andy Levin (MI-09), Vincente Gonzalez (TX-15), Khanna (CA-17), Phillips (RI-03), Bowman (NY-16), Holmes Norton (DC), Grijalva (AZ-03), Ross (NC-02), Hayes (CT-05), Scanlon (PA-05), Allred (TX-32), Titus (NV-01), Auchincloss (MA-04), Pocan (WI-02), Torres (NY-15), Tlaib (MI-13), Doggett (TX-35), Rush (IL-01), DeFazio (OR-4), Nadler (NY-10), Kilmer (WA-06), Sires (NJ-08), Bass (CA-37), Payne Jr. (NJ-10), Porter (CA-45), Raskin (MD-8), Danny Davis (IL-07), Garamendi (CA-03), Courtney (CT-02), Andy Kim (NJ-03), Kaptur (OH-09), Carson (IN-07), Cohen (TN-09), Castro (TX-20), Foster (IL-11), Bonamici (OR-01), Strickland (WA-10), Pressley (MA-07), Blumenauer (OR-03), Stansbury (NM-01), Chuy Garcia (IL-04), Suozzi (NY-03), Brown (MD-04), Espaillat (NY-13), Butterfield (NC-01), Evans (PA-03), Troy Carter (LA-02), Sara Jacobs (CA-53), Jackson Lee (TX-18), Kind (WI-03), Lamb (PA-17), Horsford (NV-04), Newman (IL-03), Moulton (MA-06), Meng (NY-06), and Senator Markey (MA).
To view the text of the letter, click here.