On Monday, President Joe Biden signed a Republican-authored bill terminating the national emergency over the COVID-19 pandemic, a month before the White House had said the president would unilaterally end national emergency declarations related to the pandemic. However, the separate public health emergency tied to Covid will remain until May 11.
The national emergency allowed the government to take sweeping steps to respond to the virus and support the country’s economic, health, and welfare systems. Then-President Donald Trump first declared a public health emergency on Jan. 31, 2020, with Trump declaring a national emergency in March. And since January 2021, the emergencies were extended under Biden.
The bill to end the national emergency initially cleared the Senate last month in a bipartisan 68-23 vote and passed the House earlier this year with 11 Democrats crossing party lines to vote for the joint resolution.
“Since Congress voted to terminate the National Emergency earlier than anticipated, the Administration has worked to expedite its wind down and provide as much notice as possible to potentially impacted individuals,” a senior administration official said, adding that the country is in a “different place” than it was in January.
Among the affected programs is mortgage forbearance at the Department of Housing and Urban Development and relaxed Veteran Affairs Department requirements for home visits to evaluate eligibility for caregiver assistance. An end to the public health emergency on May 11 is expected to have a broader impact on policies like the Trump-era immigration program known as Title 42.
Title 42 is a pandemic-era rule that has blocked undocumented immigrants from crossing the southern border due to public health reasons. But the White House has said that policy is subject to a U.S. Supreme Court case, and it intends to wind down the program. The White House has also warned that an abrupt end to the public health emergency and Title 42 would prove particularly problematic, and could “allow thousands of migrants per day into the country immediately without the necessary policies in place.”