Utah Sen. Mitt Romney helped broker a bipartisan agreement to provide $10 billion in emergency COVID-19 funding using mostly unspent American Rescue Plan dollars.

But Senate Republicans blocked a Democratic attempt late Tuesday to begin debate on the bill, pressing to entangle the package with an election-year showdown over immigration restrictions, according to the Associated Press.

Hours earlier, Republicans said they’d withhold crucial support for the measure unless Democrats agreed to votes on an amendment preventing President Joe Biden from lifting Trump-era curbs on migrants entering the U.S.

“I think there will have to be” an amendment preserving the immigration restrictions “in order to move the bill” bolstering federal pandemic efforts, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters.

White Press press secretary Jen Psaki said the Senate vote is a step backward for the government’s ability to respond to this virus.

It is disappointing that Senate Republicans voted down consideration of a much-needed bill to purchase vaccines, boosters, and life-saving treatments for the American people. As we have repeatedly said, there are consequences for Congress failing to fund our COVID response,” Psaki said in a statement.

Romney and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., announced the deal Monday. The money would be directed toward vaccines, tests and therapeutic drug treatment in the U.S. About $5 billion in international aid to fight the pandemic abroad was dropped from the deal because senators could not agree on how to pay for it.

“From the beginning, Senate Republicans have insisted that any new requests from the administration for COVID funding be paid for by repurposing existing funds from the nearly $6 trillion in COVID legislation that the Senate has already passed,” Romney said in a statement.

The agreement, he said, repurposes $10 billion to provide needed domestic COVID-19 health response tools.

Romney said the bill contains dollar-for-dollar offsets and will not cost the American people “a single additional dollar.”

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Half of the funding will be used for the development and purchase of therapeutics —potentially eliminating the need for future vaccine and mask mandates, Romney said. At least $750 million would go toward research and clinical trials for emerging coronavirus variants and to support the sustainment and expansion of vaccine manufacturing capacity.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki noted that the amount was less than half of the $22.5 billion President Joe Biden initially asked Congress to approve. 

“This obviously does not meet all of those dire needs in this country,” she said at a White House press briefing Monday when asked about the deal. She said the administration would continue to lobby for more international aid to help with vaccination rates around the world.

While the agreement does not include funding for the U.S. global vaccination program, Romney said he is willing to explore a fiscally responsible solution to support those efforts in the weeks ahead.

Schumer has moved to quickly gain approval for the aid by advancing a legislative shell last week that can ultimately include the pandemic bill, according to NPR. At least 10 Senate Republicans would have to support the legislation for it to pass, presuming all the Democrats are on board in the evenly divided chamber. In addition to Romney, three other GOP senators helped negotiate the deal.

The House would also need to approve the bill, and Congress is set to adjourn next Friday for a two-week Easter recess.

“There is broad support in the GOP conference for the COVID relief bill, but we can’t move forward until leadership on both sides agree on a sufficient amendment process,” Romney said in a tweet Tuesday.

With the BA.2 variant on the rise, the Biden administration said another round of funds is urgently needed to provide the necessary vaccines, testing and therapeutic drugs to treat sick people, NPR reported.

“The consequences of not getting COVID funding are really serious — scary, almost,” Schumer said last week. “The rest of the world is racing to buy up the supply of these treatments and these therapeutics, and if the U.S. falls behind because of a lack of funding, vulnerable Americans, and our whole country, will pay the price.”