Durbin Urges Republicans To Join Democrats To Provide New COVID Funds, Stay Ahead Of Virus

Durbin: If we want to keep our masks off, we need smart investments to confront future variants

WASHINGTON  U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) spoke on the Senate floor on the need to pass a bipartisan COVID-19 supplemental funding package. New COVID-19 funds are necessary now to procure additional vaccine booster doses, oral antivirals, and other therapeutics to treat patients who contact a serious case, maintain testing infrastructure at hospitals and health clinics, and more.


Durbin said, “We cannot continue this cycle of neglect-and-panic. These pendulum swings harm our health system and contribute to unnecessary cost and suffering. Every day, 800 American families lose a loved one to COVID. We’re at a turning point in the fight against COVID.  And now, we need to strengthen our health care system. We need to stay a step ahead of this deadly virus.”


This week, the sub-variant of Omicron, BA.2, has become the dominant strain in America. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), BA.2 accounts for about 55 percent of new U.S. cases.


Durbin continued, “We need to sustain our public health funding so that our hospitals and health care professionals have the equipment and tools they need to keep us safe. The one thing dramatically worse than returning to the dark days of COVID-19 and the deadly variants would be to return unprepared. If we want to keep our masks off, our kids in schools, and our businesses open, we need to make smart investments in America’s capacity to confront future strains of these variants.”


The Biden Administration has indicated that additional funds are necessary now in order to purchase booster doses and therapeutics that may be needed later this year.  Due to a lack of funds, HHS last week announced it would no longer be able to pay hospitals and health clinics for the testing they provide to the 30 million uninsured Americans, and several free community-based testing clinics are closing down.


At one community health center in Illinois, one-third of its patients are uninsured. That clinic has received more than $150,000 to test, treat, and vaccinate patients. Without additional funding, the clinic may not be able to provide adequate access to these services for vulnerable patients.


Durbin concluded, “If we don’t purchase these [additional] vaccines now, ahead of time, then we will be sleepwalking into the next deadly wave… To think we can just wish away COVID forever would be naïve, irresponsible, and fiscally unwise. I urge my Republican colleagues to join in a bipartisan effort to provide new funding for our COVID preparation and response efforts. Let’s be ready for whatever this virus might bring.”


 Video of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.


Audio of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.


Footage of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here for TV Stations.