WASHINGTON, D.C. — Republican Whip and Select Subcommittee Ranking Member Steve Scalise (R-La.) opened today’s Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis hearing with Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar by offering his support and prayers for the President and First Lady in their fight against coronavirus.

Whip Scalise dismantled Democrat claims that President Trump did not have a national plan to combat the coronavirus pandemic by detailing Select Subcommittee Republicans’ new report, “President Trump’s Plan: A Whole of America Response,” which thoroughly details the Trump Administration’s efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus, procure personal protective equipment, increase testing, reopen schools, create a safe and effective vaccine, and safely reopen our economy. Whip Scalise closed by discussing Select Subcommittee Republicans’ top five takeaways from their work over the past months:

  1. China lied about the dangers of COVID-19 while simultaneously hoarding PPE and allowing Chinese nationals – including thousands from Wuhan – to travel abroad.
  1. The Trump Administration responded immediately to the emerging threat.
  1. President Trump made tough, but effective decisions based on the best advice of medical professionals. The President’s decisions saved hundreds of thousands of lives.
  1. The Trump Administration has led an unprecedented effort to produce and distribute PPE, create the world’s best testing infrastructure, reduce fatalities through better treatments, and create a safe and effective vaccine faster than any in human history.
  1. Democrat governors ignored guidance from the Trump Administration and sent COVID-19 positive patients back to nursing homes, resulting in tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths.

Remarks as prepared for delivery:

“Mr. Chairman thank you.

“Jennifer and I offer our support and prayers for the President and First Lady that they remain healthy and recover quickly and fully. I know how tough and tireless the President is, and we are all keeping them in our prayers.

“Secretary Azar, I want to start today by speaking not only as the Ranking Member of this Subcommittee, but also as the Republican Whip representing the whole Republican conference. In that capacity I want to say thank you to you and the 80,000 employees of HHS. 2020 has been unlike any year in the history of your department, and the men and woman of HHS stepped up and work tirelessly to protect the American people. They did the work under the stress of a once-in-a-hundred-year pandemic. And, as my friend, the Chairman’s, remarks just now make clear – they did their work in a highly politicized environment. Please make sure your team understands how much we appreciate their service and convey our profound thanks.

“Today, the Republicans on the subcommittee are releasing a report, ‘President Trump’s Plan: A Whole of America Response.’ The report makes clear how ridiculous the Democrats main charge against President Trump has been. To this day, they claim there is no plan. They have willfully ignored the extensive plans that have been public since the beginning. They have misled the American people instead of reading the constantly updated plans and guidance and progress reports from the Administration.

“The Trump Administration’s national plan consists of the following, all supported by thousands of pages of guidance and recommendations:

A Plan to Procure Personal Protective Equipment: On March 29, 2020, President Trump launched Project Airbridge and began to carefully and thoughtfully leverage the Defense Production Act (DPA) to secure PPE, ventilators, and other needed resources to combat the pandemic. As of September 20, 2020, the Trump Administration coordinated the delivery or production of 243 million N95 masks, 1.1 billion surgical and procedural masks, 45.5 million eye and face shields, 429 million gowns and coveralls, and over 27.9 billion gloves. Further, as of September 10, 2020 the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) is fully stocked with 135,784 ventilators.

A Plan to Slow the Spread: On March 16, 2020, President Trump announced national guidelines entitled ’15 Days to Slow the Spread’ of COVID-19. These guidelines outlined how to help slow the virus’ spread and keep our most high-risk populations safe. These were extended by ’30 Days to Slow the Spread’ through April 30. Dr. Fauci testified before this Subcommittee that those decisions saved lives.

A Plan to Increase Testing: On May 24, 2020, the Trump Administration released a report to Congress called the ‘COVID-19 Strategic Testing Plan’ which built on the April 27 national testing blueprint. This report explains that ‘[s]tate plans must establish a robust testing program that ensures adequacy of C[OVID]-19 testing, including tests for contact tracing, and surveillance of asymptomatic persons to determine community spread.’ Through these robust national testing plans, President Trump built the world’s greatest testing apparatus from scratch. The U.S. conducted over 100 million tests in only five months.

“A Plan to Safely Reopen the Economy: On April 16, 2020, President Trump unveiled the ‘Guidelines for Opening up American Again,’ a three-phased approach to help state and local officials reopen their economies under the direction of each state’s governor. Under this plan, President Trump is on track to rebuild the strongest economy in American history faster than predicted. The Atlanta Federal Reserve is predicting 3rd quarter growth is on track to increase by 32% percent annualized.

“A Plan to Safely Reopen Schools: The scientists and physicians at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the National Academies’ Committee on Guidance for K-12 Education on Responding to COVID-19 recommend schools implement policies which enable students to learn in-person. Based on the evidence and data, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provided approximately hundreds of pages of realistic and workable guidance documents for schools across the country. There is no reason – following the guidelines provided – children cannot safely return to school in the fall. Further delays in returning to school only undermine educational attainment for those most vulnerable, burden parents in the middle to low income brackets, and cause untold detriment to America’s youths’ health and wellbeing.

“A Plan to Create a Safe and Effective Vaccine: On May 15, 2020, President Trump launched Operation Warp Speed (OWS) to bring a safe and effective vaccine to the American people faster than ever before. OWS aims to deliver 300 million doses of a safe, effective vaccine for COVID-19 by January 2021, as part of a broader strategy to accelerate the development, manufacturing, and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics. By investing in and coordinating development, OWS will allow a vaccine to be delivered to patients more rapidly while adhering to standards for safety and efficacy. As of September 23, four vaccines affiliated with OWS are in Phase III trials and on track for rapid Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval.

“Where are we today? There are five key facts the American people need to know about the COVID pandemic:

  1. China lied about the dangers of COVID-19 while simultaneously hoarding PPE and allowing Chinese nationals – including thousands from Wuhan – to travel abroad.
  1. The Trump Administration responded immediately to the emerging threat.
  1. President Trump made tough, but effective decisions based on the best advice of medical professionals. The President’s decisions saved hundreds of thousands of lives. 
  1. The Trump Administration has led an unprecedented effort to produce and distribute PPE, create the world’s best testing infrastructure, reduce fatalities through better treatments, and create a safe and effective vaccine faster than any in human history.
  1. Democrat governors ignored guidance from the Trump Administration and sent COVID-19 positive patients back to nursing homes, resulting in tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths.

“Mr. Secretary, I look forward to hearing your testimony as you provide an update on the progress we’ve made, particularly on Operation Warp Speed. And I yield back.”