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OnPolitics: President Biden says the COVID pandemic is over. Is it?

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 9/19/2022 Amy Nakamura, USA TODAY

Good afternoon, OnPolitics readers!

The U.K. and much of the world spent Monday mourning Queen Elizabeth II, who was celebrated at a funeral at Westminster Abbey and brought to her final place of rest, St George's Chapel.

With the funeral concluded, and a private burial service was scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. local time, a period of Royal Mourning is set to last for the next seven days,  according to the wishes of the new king.

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President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden top the list of foreign leaders present, which also includes France’s President Emmanuel Macron, Germany’s President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Ireland’s President Michael Higgins.

Biden arrived at Westminster Abbey for the queen’s funeral in his armored limousine, The Beast. He was among the few international diplomats who, for security reasons, did not ride on a fleet of chartered luxury buses provided for other world leaders.

During his visit, Biden told media the queen "was the same in person as her image: decent, honorable and all about service."

It's Amy with today's top stories out of Washington.

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Biden says the COVID pandemic is over. Is it?

President Joe Biden’s seemingly offhand declaration that the COVID-19 pandemic “is over” could complicate several issues for the administration.

Officials are encouraging people to get boosted ahead of a possible fall and winter wave of infections.

They’ve asked Congress for $22.4 billion in emergency coronavirus funding. The administration had been expected to renew a public health emergency, which is keeping millions of Americans on Medicaid.

And Biden’s controversial decision to wipe out student loan debt for millions of Americans rests on the Education Department’s ability to ease hardship in a national emergency.

White House officials have not commented publicly on Biden's remark since it aired Sunday on CBS.

COVID-19 casualties: Nearly 3,000 Americans are still dying from COVID-19 each week.

What happens next: Congress is deciding whether to approve billions of dollars of additional coronavirus funding requested by Biden. Republicans have insisted that unspent money from a previous COVID-19 package be repurposed. The administration has said the money is needed to prepare for future surges.

Timeline: The administration has said it would give states 60 days' notice before declaring an end to the COVID-19 public health emergency that has helped millions of Americans get health coverage through Medicaid. The current end date of the emergency is Oct. 15. But that was expected to be extended because states have not been told otherwise.

Real quick: stories you'll want to read

  • American abducted in Afghanistan to return: President Biden said that the U.S. has secured the release of Mark Frerichs, an American contractor and Navy veteran abducted more than two years ago. It's one of the most significant prisoner swaps.
  • Do Trump's attacks on DOJ cross a line? Some legal experts say Trump's inflammatory rhetoric present DOJ with a quandary over whether to prosecute a former president if he meets the legal threshold.
  • Biden denies Mar-a-Lago document knowledge: President Joe Biden said in an interview Sunday he has not been briefed on the classified documents federal agents retrieved last month from former President Donald Trump's Florida estate. Read more about Biden's comments here.
  • Graham pushes back 15-week abortion ban bill:  Sen. Lindsey Graham defended his abortion ban bill Sunday despite lack of full GOP support. Graham's bill, introduced last week, would prohibit an abortion procedure after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

Could DeSantis' migrant tactic backfire politically with a key voting bloc?

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' decision to transport dozens of Venezuelan migrants to the  elite Massachusetts enclave of Martha's Vineyard unannounced achieved its unspoken purpose of riling up the left.

But the stunt could have unplanned ramifications for DeSantis and the GOP writ large, experts told USA TODAY.

What happened at Martha's Vineyard? A group of about 50 Venezuelan migrants were flown from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard this week on two charter flights for which DeSantis has taken credit.

USA TODAY later learned the migrants were told they would be met with well-paying jobs, free housing and transportation once they got off the planes. Instead, when the migrants arrived, Massachusetts officials were surprised and unprepared, with no such promises in sight.

A spokesperson for DeSantis said the migrants’ relocation was part of the governor's "promise to drop off undocumented migrants in progressive states."

The tactic to fly migrants north shows DeSantis is caught between two imperatives, says William LeoGrande, a government professor at American University with expertise in U.S. foreign policy toward Latin America.

On one hand, the Florida GOP wants to cultivate the Venezuelan American vote.

But on the other hand, DeSantis and the broader GOP see immigration as a "wedge issue." Could it backfire with voters?

Need to catch up on all the coverage of Queen Elizabeth II's funeral? 👑 USA TODAY was watching every moment as the world paid tribute to the queen. -- Amy

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: OnPolitics: President Biden says the COVID pandemic is over. Is it?



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