The House of Representatives has passed Rep. Paul Gosar’s (R-Ariz.) House Joint Resolution 7, which would end the coronavirus national emergency proclaimed almost three years ago at the start of the pandemic.
“Time’s up,” Gosar said in a Feb. 1 interview with The Epoch Times. “Most of America has moved on.
“It’s that the government hasn’t under Joe Biden,” he said.
The legislation passed 229 to 197; 218 Republicans voted for it, while 197 Democrats voted against it. In addition, 11 Democrats voted for it.
At less than sixty words, the resolution is the latest short piece of legislation considered by the Republican-controlled House.
The House kicked off the 118th Congress by passing a similarly brief bill restricting the sale of petroleum products from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) to China or any entities controlled by the Chinese Communist Party–a bill that secured votes from 113 Democrats.
The Gosar resolution reached the House floor just one day after that chamber passed the “Pandemic Is Over Act.” The legislation derives its name from Biden’s September 2022 statement on 60 Minutes that “the pandemic is over.”
Unlike Gosar’s resolution, which targets Biden’s March 2020 national emergency, the “Pandemic is Over Act” would end Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar’s January 2020 declaration of a public health emergency because of the novel coronavirus.
The HHS Secretary has had to renew that public health emergency every ninety days. Current HHS Secretary Javier Becerra renewed it again just weeks ago, on Jan. 11, 2023.
Trump proclaimed a national emergency in March 2020. Biden renewed it in 2022.
In a floor speech, Gosar blasted previous House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for blocking House actions to discuss whether to continue the coronavirus national emergency, as outlined by the National Emergencies Act (NEA).
“What type of a representative body cannot even discuss a national emergency?” Gosar asked in his floor speech.
This latest joint resolution marks Gosar’s third attempt to end the national emergency. He sees the coronavirus emergency as symptomatic of bigger problems with such proclamations under the NEA. Dozens of emergencies from as early as the 1970s still haven’t expired.
He told The Epoch Times that times of national emergency empower the executive or president with more than 120 different powers that do not require congressional authorization. That’s in line with research from the Brennan Center for Justice, a liberal think tank.
In Gosar’s view, ending the national emergency “isn’t a partisan issue–but it was made that way because of the money.”
He cited the management of roughly $6 trillion in COVID-19 emergency funding, including money for COVID-19 testing that was diverted to housing for illegal aliens.
“Technically, the $1.7 trillion omnibus bill was done during a declaration of COVID national emergency,” he said, adding that he worries the administration and its Democratic allies will have too much leeway on that spending without Congressional oversight.
The Biden administration formally opposed both the Gosar resolution and the “Pandemic Is Over Act” in a Jan. 30 statement from its Office of Management and Budget.
That statement claimed that nursing homes and hospitals would be “plunged into chaos” by a sudden shift in policy to end emergency COVID-19 funds.
It announced that the Biden administration currently intends to prolong the public health and national emergencies until May 11, allowing for a lengthy “wind-down” process—a perspective echoed by Democrats on the House floor.
“This wind-down would align with the Administration’s previous commitments to give at least 60 days’ notice prior to termination of the PHE [public health emergency],” the statement continued.
Gosar thinks the new House majority forced the president’s hand on ending the pandemic emergencies.
As a joint resolution, H.J. Res. 7 must be passed by the Democrat-controlled Senate.
Gosar noted that the Senate has voted to end the national emergency too, including through a November 2022 resolution from Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) that passed 62-36. The Biden administration said it would veto that resolution if it passed Congress.
Notably, unlike its November statement, the White House’s statement on Gosar’s latest resolution and the “Pandemic Is Over Act” does not categorically threaten to veto either piece of legislation.
Could the White House be positioning itself to allow the House and Senate to end the national emergency without having to act?
“That’s a great possibility,” Gosar said.
From The Epoch Times