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Congressional Democrats are trying to backfill for perceived shortfalls in the Biden administration's coronavirus response with a wave of new bill filings.
Why it matters: The legislative spurt is a reflection of the dread Democrats feel ahead of this fall's midterm elections. Republicans are already trying to capitalize on the discontent.
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"I think ... the public expects that they have a government that's treating COVID like we're on a war-footing, and that we're doing everything humanly possible," Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) told Axios in an interview.
"These are the types of measures that will look like we're taking decisive leadership, energetic leadership."
Driving the news: Reps. Don Beyer (D-Va.), Dina Titus (D-Nev.) and Joe Morelle (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday introduced a bill that would require the federal government to provide universal free testing.
The Department of Health and Human Services would be compelled to purchase enough rapid, at-home tests to "provide two such tests per week to every resident of the United States."
In addition to pharmacies and schools, the tests would be made available by mail through online or phone order.
Khanna, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Reps. Lori Trahan (D-Mass.) and Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.) also introduced a bill on Wednesday to provide three N95 masks to every American.
It was co-sponsored by dozens of House and Senate Democrats.
In addition, Khanna and Sanders co-led a letter to Biden with Reps. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) on Tuesday calling for greatly expanded testing, including home test delivery.
What they're saying: “The rapid spread of the Omicron variant over the past weeks suggests that Americans are in a dramatically more vulnerable position than we had anticipated being just last month. There is no time to waste," the letter said.
During the interview, Khanna said of his call for distributing N95 masks: “If it’s good enough for members of Congress, it’s good enough for Americans."
The Capitol attending physician has recommended members wear N95 or KN95 masks on the House floor.
“It’s not easy to go into your local pharmacy and just get N95 masks, and it’s expensive," Khanna told Axios.
The other side: Some Republicans have contrasted the shortages with Biden's pandemic promises during the election.
"President Biden promised ... 'access to regular, reliable and free COVID-19 tests,'" Rep. John Rose (R-Tenn.) said in a floor speech. "But as we near a year into his presidency, he has failed to deliver on these basic promises."
Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) went as far as to repudiate a plan to provide House offices with a weekly allotment of at-home tests.
"Members of Congress and our staffs are not above the American people, and I will be donating these tests to a local health care facility," Donalds said in a statement Wednesday. He urged his colleagues to follow suit.
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