Washington [US]: US President Joe Biden signed a bill on Monday (local time) ending the COVID-19 national emergency more than three years after it went into effect.
“On Monday, April 10, 2023, the President signed into law: H.J.Res. 7, which terminates the national emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic,” read a White House press release.
The legislation drafted by Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) passed the House 229-197 in February, with a handful of Democratic supporters, and then the Senate 68-23 last month with about half of the chamber’s Democrats voting in favour, reported New York Post.
The new law immediately ends the national emergency and public health emergency first enacted during the Trump administration and continued through the Biden administration.
Former President Donald Trump first declared a national emergency over the virus on March 13, 2020, retroactive to March 1 of that year. The declarations allowed federal funding to be freed up to cities and states for testing and vaccination centers.
It’s unclear what immediate effect Biden’s signature will have on linked US policies, such as immigration policy and his student debt forgiveness plan, reported New York Post.
The White House had opposed the GOP-proposed measure, which gained some bipartisan support in Congress, even though the White House planned to end emergency declarations on May 11.
The White House said the legislation would “create wide-ranging chaos and uncertainty throughout the health care system — for states, hospitals and doctors’ offices, and, most importantly, for tens of millions of Americans.”
In January, the White House said that Biden would end the national and public health emergencies on May 11 after more than 1 million Americans died from the respiratory disease that originated in Wuhan, China.
The Justice Department has said that ending the emergency would terminate the Title 42 migration policy that allows for the rapid deportation of people who illegally cross the US-Mexico border, reported New York Post.
The Biden administration has eased enforcement of Title 42 by gradually allowing more people into the US to await asylum rulings, but thousands of migrants have still been deported each month under the policy, which would have to be replaced with a new plan to address record-high illegal crossings.