Dec 10, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Biden’s potential first veto

Illustration of a hand in a suit wielding a red pen with action lines surrounding it in the background

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

House Republicans may soon force President Biden to issue his first veto — over a measure to terminate the national emergency declaration for COVID.

Why it matters: The emergency declaration has served as the basis for the administration's student loan forgiveness plan and also allows for increased flexibilities for health insurance and Medicaid.

What we're hearing: Once they officially retake the House majority, Republicans plan to hold a vote on a joint resolution that would rescind the emergency declaration, senior GOP aides said.

By the numbers: This type of resolution doesn't need 60 votes in the Senate. Just two Senate Democrats would have to stick by their votes for it to pass now.

  • "[The pandemic] is over. I'm going to keep voting until we get it over," Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) told Axios. "We should get back to normal lives."

The other side: Biden said months ago that the pandemic is over — but the White House said last month Biden would veto the resolution if it came to his desk.

  • "While COVID-19 is no longer the disruptive threat that it once was and we have made tremendous progress in combating the virus, the virus continues to pose a risk to the American people and our health care system," the statement argued.
  • Reached for comment this week, the White House referred back to the OMB statement.
  • Congress would almost surely not be able to override Biden's veto.

What we're watching: The resolution is part of a broader tug-of-war between Congress and the executive branch over how sweeping a president’s emergency executive powers should be.

  • Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who has tried to rein in executive power in other ways in addition to voting for this resolution, told Axios: “I worry when declarations persist longer than is absolutely necessary. It becomes harder to gain public legitimacy for declarations in the future.”
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