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Phillips, Problem Solvers Caucus Endorse Immediate Vote on Bipartisan $160 Billion Vaccine Distribution Package

On separating vaccine distribution from broader relief package, Phillips says: “The COVID-19 virus won’t wait for us to compromise”

  — Today, Vice Chair Dean Phillips (MN-03) helped lead 58 bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus members in calling for an immediate vote on the $160 billion “Defeating COVID-19” vaccine distribution package, as broader bipartisan relief talks and reconciliation process continue.

As emerging, more contagious variants are found in Minnesota and across the nation, the “Defeating COVID-19” vaccine distribution package would allocate new federal investment funds for the national distribution and administration of the COVID-19 vaccine and support expanded testing programs, PPE purchases, and other urgently needed initiatives to beat this deadly virus. With more than 75% of members voting in favor, the Problem Solvers Caucus officially endorsed the “Defeating COVID-19” vaccine distribution package today. Phillips supported the move after hearing from Minnesotans, health care providers and county and state officials about the urgent need.

“We are living through one of the worst public health emergencies and economic downturns in American history,” said Problem Solvers Caucus Co-Vice Chair Dean Phillips. “Last year, the Problem Solvers Caucus proved to the nation that thoughtful Democrats and Republicans can come together to deliver bipartisan solutions. We can and will continue that work, but the COVID-19 virus won’t wait for us to compromise. A well-funded, better coordinated federal vaccine distribution program will save lives and livelihoods if we act now. This is a crisis, and we must urgently meet the moment as the more complete package moves through Congress and to the President’s desk.”

The “Defeating COVID-19” vaccine distribution package shares similarities with the “Direct COVID Pandemic Response” section in President Biden’s American Rescue Plan. Should negotiations around other portions of a new COVID-19 relief package take longer, whether that's through a bipartisan agreement or reconciliation, this separate $160 billion investment would immediately help boost vaccine deployment and testing nationwide. It includes:

  • National Vaccine Program in partnership w/ states, Tribes, and territories:  $20B
  • Massive expansion of testing: $50B
  • Disaster Relief Fund: $30B
  • Defense Production Act Title III: $5B
  • PPE for first responders, independent physicians, and dentists: $5B
  • Rebuilding and restocking the National Strategic Stockpile: $15B
  • Provider Relief Fund with 20% set aside for rural hospitals: $35B

In his first term, Phillips helped lead the formation of  a bipartisan, bicameral COVID-19 relief framework to deliver aid to small businesses, schools, healthcare providers, and families in need. These efforts helped inspire a breakthrough in stalled negotiations and played an integral role in delivering much needed aid to Americans at the precipice, resulting in the passage of a fourth bipartisan emergency relief and government budget package in December.