Biden Wants Congress to Fund New Covid Shots for All Americans

(Bloomberg) -- President Joe Biden said the White House would request additional money from Congress to fund the next round of coronavirus vaccine shots.

Most Read from Bloomberg

Biden told reporters that he signed off on a proposal Friday morning that would be sent to lawmakers shortly “for a new vaccine.”

“Tentative it will likely be recommended that everybody get it,” Biden said after attending an exercise class in Lake Tahoe.

It was not clear if Biden meant that the government needed additional funding for the research and development of an updated coronavirus vaccine beyond new boosters already in development, or wanted to restart the program that made coronavirus shots free for all Americans.

Any request would likely face steep opposition from Republicans on Capitol Hill, who have accused Biden of asking for unnecessary pandemic-related funding. An agreement struck earlier this year with GOP lawmakers to avert breaching the debt ceiling clawed back over $27 billion in unspent Covid-19 relief money.

The ask also comes as some Republicans have balked at the administration’s request for additional funding to support Ukraine as part of an emergency package that also includes disaster relief money.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is planning to meet on Sept. 12 to discuss new vaccines that will be available in the fall. The federal health agency was already preparing a program to provide free vaccines to uninsured Americans, but manufacturers Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc. have been readying to move the new shots to the commercial market. Insurance companies as well as Medicare and Medicaid were expected to largely cover out-of-pocket costs for those shots.

Previously, the White House had said they believed Americans would likely need to get annual boosters of the coronavirus vaccine, like a flu shot. The formula will be adjusted in an effort to head off new strains of the virus.

Biden’s comments come as the new “Eris” variant of the virus has become dominant in the United States, and hospitals have reported an increase in cases.

Spokespeople for the White House and Office of Management and Budget did not immediately respond to requests for further explanation of the president’s remarks.

Most Read from Bloomberg Businessweek

©2023 Bloomberg L.P.