President Joe Biden on Monday signed into law legislation from Rep. Paul Gosar officially ending the COVID-19 emergency declaration.
The move effectively terminates the emergency powers granted to the president under the National Emergencies Act. President Donald Trump initially declared the national emergency March 13, 2020.
“With the president signing my bill, the emergency powers enacted to address the COVID-19 emergency have been terminated,” Gosar, R-Ariz., said in a written statement to The Arizona Republic. “It is my view, shared by Congress, and now the president, that emergencies should be in place only as long as there is an ongoing emergency. The pandemic is over and has been. This repeal is a great step forward towards economic and social recovery. Working with my colleagues and (House) Speaker (Kevin) McCarthy was instrumental.”
During a March 30 briefing after the Senate vote, Biden’s press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the president would sign the measure, adding that the president wanted an “orderly” end to the public health and national emergency declarations.
“The bill that just passed would only lift the national emergency, which doesn’t impact Title 42 or COVID authorities, like for testing and for treatments,” Jean-Pierre said.
The separate public health emergency declaration is scheduled to end May 11.
“We are in a different place and time than we were in January. So that is something that you all know and have reported. We’ve been winding down authorities over the last two … months.”
The end of the emergency declaration strips Biden of 120 presidential authorities, according to Gosar.
“By mid-2020, it was obviously no longer a national emergency, but a limited pandemic that largely impacted the elderly and the immuno-compromised,” Gosar said in a weekly note to constituents after the Senate approved the joint resolution in late March. The House passed it in February.
One program Gosar highlighted was Biden’s announcement in August 2022 that his administration would forgive as much as $20,000 in student loans for certain borrowers. Gosar disapproved of the plan and called it a “failed” program.
Critics of the plan noted that it failed to help those who either never took loans to attend school or worked to repay their debts, and that the debt forgiveness would not address the soaring costs of a college degree.
The Department of Education stopped accepting applications for the debt relief while litigation over the issue plays out in the courts.
Gosar added that the Republican-controlled House will seek to “claw back” billions of dollars the president has directed toward pandemic relief.
“The pandemic has long been over, and there is no reason to keep emergency powers for an emergency that has ended,” Gosar’s email said. “Our long national nightmare is over.”
Reach reporter Ryan Randazzo at [email protected] or 602-444-4331. Follow him on Twitter @UtilityReporter.