Biden keeping ‘emergency’ COVID powers until May to ‘get everything done’
WASHINGTON — President Biden said Tuesday that he extended the national-emergency declaration for COVID-19 until May 11 to “get everything done.”
Biden gave the explanation hours after announcing the extension — as the Supreme Court prepares for February arguments on his attempt to put $400 billion toward student loan forgiveness by citing the emergency.
“We’ve extended it to May the 15th to make sure we get everything done. That’s all,” Biden said, misstating the end date he ordered, while departing the White House for a trip to promote a rail project in New York City.
“The COVID emergency will end when the Supreme Court ends it,” Biden also said confusingly, given his own Monday plan to end the emergency.
Biden told “60 Minutes”in September that “the pandemic is over” and didn’t say Tuesday what specifically he wanted to accomplish by extending the emergency declaration.
House Republicans plan to pass a bill Tuesday to end the national emergency, though the Democratic-held Senate is certain to block it.
Biden’s mention of the Supreme Court could have been a reference to either his attempt to forgive up to $20,000 in student loans per person or a separate case on the Department of Homeland Security’s attempt to end the Title 42 border policy, which is rooted in the emergency and allows for border officials to rapidly deport migrants.
The White House said Monday evening that Biden would allow the orders to end May 11 after more than three years in effect. A Trump-era national emergency declaration had been set to end March 1 while a public health emergency declaration had been set to end April 11.
“At present, the Administration’s plan is to extend the emergency declarations to May 11, and then end both emergencies on that date,” the statement said.
The White House budget office on Monday evening cited just two areas of policy — healthcare and the US-Mexico border —that required a “wind-down” of the emergency authorities by temporarily continuing certain Medicaid funding policies and border rules.
The White House didn’t mention student loan forgiveness as being affected by the declaration, despite Biden’s pre-midterm election citation of a 2003 law that allows the president to “alleviate hardship” for student loan recipients during a national emergency.
The White House on Tuesday gave mixed messaging on whether border policy truly would be impacted by earlier termination of the emergency powers.
“[T]he end of the public health emergency will end the Title 42 policy at the border,” the White House budget office said Monday. “The Administration supports an orderly, predictable wind-down of Title 42, with sufficient time to put alternative policies in place.”
But White House deputy press secretary Olivia Dalton told reporters Tuesday on Air Force One, “We do not know when the Supreme Court will rule on this matter … or when it might lift its stay.”
The Supreme Court is likely to rule in the Title 42 case near the end of its term in June.