The federal government has formally terminated the presidentially enacted national emergency declaration due to the COVID-19 outbreak after over three years.
President Joe Biden signed H.J. Res. 7 on April 10, therein acknowledging that the virus is not a threat to the country, before leaving for his trip to Northern Ireland. Biden had previously said the national health emergency would end on May 11 after 11 extensions. The COVID-19 national emergency was first enacted by President Donald Trump in March 2020.
The COVID-19 national emergency and public health emergency declarations were set to expire on March 1 and April 11, respectively. In its final extension in January, the Biden administration warned the timeline could cause “wide-ranging chaos and uncertainty throughout the health care system.”
H.J. Res. 7 was passed by the Senate on March 29 and the House on Feb. 1. The measure and H.R. 382, which would have terminated the COVID-19 public health emergency, were opposed by Biden.
The Biden administration argued that the “continuation of these emergency declarations until May 11 does not impose any restriction at all on individual conduct with regard to COVID-19.”
“They do not impose mask mandates or vaccine mandates,” wrote the Executive Office of the President in a Jan. 30 memo. “They do not restrict school or business operations.”
The Justice Department said the termination of the emergency declaration will trigger the termination of Title 42, a migration policy that permits the rapid deportation of illegal immigrants.
However, The New York Post reports that the “Biden administration has eased enforcement of Title 42 by gradually allowing more people into the US to await asylum rulings, but thousands of migrants have still been deported each month under the policy, which would have to be replaced with a new plan to address record-high illegal crossings.”
Biden has also cited the authority granted to him by the emergency declaration to unveil a plan to forgive $20,000 per borrower in federal student loan debt.
Republican legislators have long opposed the expanded executive authority granted to the federal government through the orders. Their protests were redoubled after Biden said the “pandemic is over” in an interview in September 2022.
Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar, who sponsored H.J. Res. 7, celebrated the measure’s enactment.
“With Mr. Biden signing my bill, the emergency powers enacted to address the COVID-19 emergency have been terminated,” Gosar wrote in a statement. “It is my view, shared by Congress, and now Mr. Biden, that emergencies should be in place only as long as there is an ongoing emergency.”
“The pandemic is over and has been,” the congressman continued. “This termination is a great step forward towards economic and social recovery.”