Pelosi calls Republican effort to include Title 42 amendment in COVID-19 funding bill 'blackmail'

House speaker continues to push for a $10 billion COVID-19 funding package

Updated: May 16, 2022 - 9:44am

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says that Republicans delaying passage of a roughly $10 billion COVID-19 relief bill to force a vote on Title 42 – the federal public health policy that allows illegal immigrants to be sent home – is "blackmail."

"There’s no use holding it up to blackmail, as the Republicans are trying to do," the leader of the Democrat-controlled chamber said Sunday on CNN. 

The attempt by Congress to pass a measure that would result in billions more in additional COVID spending stalled last month in the Senate when Democrats refused to vote on an amendment that could nudge the Biden administration away from rolling back Title 42.

However, several Senate Democrats are also opposed to ending Title 42 enforcement by May 23, as the administration has announced, without a plan to address the expected, resulting surge in immigration at the southern U.S. border. 

In addition, Connecticut Democrat Sen. Chris Murphy said last week there is a "growing willingness" to have the amendment votes necessary to get to a final vote on more COVID spending. 

Whether the House or Senate, which Democrats also control, takes the first next steps toward advancing such a spending measure remains unclear. 

"We’re working on it," Pelosi also said. "We will find a way. It has to be done because people continuing to hear every moment – all the time now, hopefully not as deadly as the previous COVID-19. But, nonetheless, we must pass the package,"

The California lawmaker also pointed out that Congress did not include COVID spending in the Ukrainian funding bill passed last week because Republicans did not support a combined package.

"We wanted to put COVID on there," she said. "They said no. We said, OK, Ukraine, urgent, right this minute. We will do that. But we have to do the COVID package."