The new GOP majority in the House of Representatives is calling on Xavier Becerra, Joe Biden’s Secretary for Health and Human Services (HHS), to formally end its declaration of emergency over the Chinese coronavirus.
Fox News reports that on Wednesday, a group of 13 Republicans led by Congressman Troy Nehls (R-Texas) sent a letter to Becerra shortly after HHS announced that it would be extending the Public Health Emergency (PHE) declaration for the 12th time overall. The letter demanded that either the state of emergency be lifted, or HHS submit written justification for its continuation by February 10th.
“The continued extensions of the public health emergency calls into question the legality of the expanding powers of the executive branch, its abuse of statutory authority, and sets a terrible precedent for future public health emergencies,” the letter reads in part. “The continued lack of clarity and mixed guidance from the administration also fails to reassure Americans that they can participate safely in everyday society. Meanwhile, restaurants, bars, sporting, arenas, and venues alike have been open and operating at full capacity, yet the administration continues to unsoundly reissue PHE extensions.”
The letter also cited the fact that Joe Biden himself has said that he believes the COVID pandemic to be over, saying so twice during an interview on CBS’ “60 Minutes” back in September of 2022.
“The pandemic is over. We still have a problem with COVID. We’re still doing a lot of work on it,” said Biden in the interview. “If you notice, no one’s wearing a mask, everybody seems to be in pretty good shape.”
Congressman Nehls issued his own statement following the release of the letter, saying that “as members of Congress, our solemn duty is to hold unelected bureaucrats accountable. I am proud to have led this letter with twelve of my colleagues in Congress to hold the Biden administration accountable.”
The PHE was originally supposed to expire on Wednesday prior to HHS’s 12th consecutive renewal, ensuring that it remains in place until at least April 11th, where it will be up for renewal once more.
In the department’s official statement, Becerra said that the policy would be extended “as a result of the continued consequences of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, on this date and after consultation with public health officials as necessary.” Becerra did not provide any evidence or cite any examples of the alleged “consequences” that led to his decision.