U.S. Senators Roy Blunt (Mo.), Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies, Richard Burr (NC), Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Mike Crapo (ID), Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee, along with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (KY.), sent a letter calling on White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeffrey Zients to release an updated strategy to more effectively leverage vaccines and end the pandemic.
“Over the last few months, our progress towards combating COVID-19 has been interrupted – cases of the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant are surging across the country, mounting pressure on health care systems and forcing hospitals to turn away patients,” the senators wrote. “On day one of the Biden administration, more than 16 million doses of vaccine had already reached Americans, with millions more on the way, and the country was on track to easily reach the president’s goal of 100 million vaccines administered in the first 100 days in office. Yet, in a matter of months, the Biden administration created confusion and exacerbated vaccine hesitancy.”
As the top Republican on the Labor/HHS appropriations subcommittee, Blunt helped lead efforts to ensure Operation Warp Speed had the resources necessary to speed the development and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and therapuetics. In the five bipartisan COVID relief bills that were signed into law last year, Blunt helped prioritize a total of more than $47 billion for vaccine and treatment development and procurement, and $8.75 billion for vaccine distribution.
The senators continued, “The Delta variant continues to spread across the country, along with reported cases of the newly detected Mu variant, and there is still no clear strategy to bring this pandemic to an end. For these reasons, Congress and the American people deserve answers.”