WASHINGTON, D.C. — Should the federal government spend even more money to combat the pandemic?
While government programs previously provided families with paycheck protection or a stimulus check, there is a renewed push for another emergency relief package.
WHAT'S BEEN PROMISED
Within the last month, the federal government promised more COVID-19 tests for schools, a new website and delivery program for free at-home tests, more military personnel for hospitals and increased vaccine distribution around the world.
The problem is those ideas aren't cheap.
Democratic House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer confirmed to reporters last week that he expects the White House to make another emergency funding request.
WHAT COULD BE INCLUDED?
The request hasn't officially been made and negotiations are only beginning, but it is expected to be “substantial.”
Possible priorities include programs for more resources for testing in schools and funding to send more vaccines to poorer countries.
Aid to restaurants has even been discussed by some on Capitol Hill.
However, another round of stimulus checks is not expected.
CONCERNS OVER SPENDING
Unlike previous requests, the White House may not get everything it wants.
Inflation is at a 40-year high. Many Republicans, and even some Democrats, believe too much government spending may be to blame.
Since March 2020, the government has spent over $5 trillion battling the pandemic, and there is growing concern by some that the money already approved hasn’t been spent.
Republican senators Roy Blunt of Missouri and Richard Burr of North Carolina have written a letter to the Secretary of Education asking why “as of December 30th, 86% of the funding remains unspent by K-12 schools.”
“Where is the disconnect between the department and schools," the letter reads.
The federal government is only funded through the middle of February and an emergency COVID-19 request could be part of a bill to keep the government open.