Senate passes resolution to end COVID emergency in a largely symbolic vote

WASHINGTON - In a largely symbolic vote, the Senate passed a resolution ending the national emergency declaration that was announced three years ago by President Donald Trump at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Though House Democrats overwhelmingly voted against the measure last month, Senate Democrats moved ahead with it on Wednesday. The vote came after President Biden told Congress in January that the national emergency would end in May.

The Senate passed the resolution under the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to overturn rules by federal agencies via a simple majority vote, by a vote of 68-23. Ahead of the vote Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) told colleagues that Biden would not veto the measure, according to a senior Democratic Senate source who spoke on the condition of anonymity to detail private conversations.

The coronavirus has killed more than a million people in the United States and it upended global economies.

Though Biden and Democrats have largely embraced pandemic-era safety measures, the White House has signaled the fight against the virus was moving into a new and less-disruptive chapter. Last week, a senior administration official told The Washington Post that “transitioning out of the emergency phase is the natural evolution of the COVID response.” Several members of the White House COVID response team, including its COVID-19 response coordinator, Ashish Jha, are expected to leave the administration, according to sources.

Even as the Senate voted to end the emergency, fallout from the pandemic continues, with millions of low-income earners poised to lose health-care coverage as a pandemic-era protections keeping them on Medicaid are poised to end.