WASHINGTON, D.C. — House Republican Whip and Ranking Member of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis Steve Scalise (R-La.)’s opening statement at today’s Select Subcommittee hearing notes that the American people’s biggest economic challenge is the alarming rising inflation under the Biden Administration. Additionally, Whip Scalise urges Select Subcommittee Democrats to hold a hearing about the origins of COVID-19. Whip Scalise also highlights how President Biden’s open-door immigration policies have created a surge in COVID-positive migrants unlawfully entering the United States, which is jeopardizing the health and safety of the American people.
Remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Mr. Chairman, thank you, and I look forward to a good discussion on how we can continue the reopening and return to normalcy here in the United States. The biggest economic challenge we face right now continues to be President Biden’s inflation crisis. The cost of housing, the cost of gas, groceries, cars – the necessities of life – have skyrocketed. Rather than addressing the problem and proposing solutions, the Biden Administration’s answer is, don’t worry, just keep printing money and hope that inflation will just magically disappear.
“Mr. Chairman, these huge price spikes are not going to go away if liberals and socialists continue their reckless tax and spend policies. The American people know that the massive increase in government spending is responsible for the rising cost of living, which is a tax on hard-working families. And what is President Biden’s answer? He’s pushing for an additional $4 trillion in new spending – exactly the opposite of what America needs right now.
“What America needs at this critical moment is to stay on the path toward fully reopening. We can’t slide backwards. Schools must reopen for in-person learning. The cost to our children of not doing so is simply too high. Businesses need to continue bringing back employees, and the federal government needs to stop paying people more to stay home than go back to work. The federal government needs to stop undermining the relationship between landlord and tenant and let that market function properly.
“What has allowed us to get back to some normalcy has not been government spending. It certainly has not been government-imposed lockdowns – that’s the opposite of normalcy. What has gotten us on the path is we have gotten control of the invisible enemy. And America did that by creating, producing, and distributing safe and effective vaccines.
“As every Member of this subcommittee knows, I have, as Ranking Member, been advocating for and encouraging vaccines from this seat for over a year. Not everyone here gave as much initial support to Operation Warp Speed as I did. I called out those who talked down the vaccine during the campaign season.
“Immediately after President Biden took office and created a goal of 100 million shots in a hundred days – I said that was not enough. The goal should be 200 million shots in hundred days. A goal that President Biden eventually embraced.
“Mr. Chairman, you and I worked together on the vaccine hesitancy hearing. We jointly invited the witnesses. Our views have been clear and consistent. If you want to get vaccinated, it is safe, effective, free, and available.
“But I have also been clear – if the goal is to get more people vaccinated, mandating and shaming individuals won’t work. Censoring information only breeds more distrust.
“Let’s all work together to get the facts out to people – particularly populations that continue to display hesitancy. Let’s present the evidence but also reassure individuals that the decision is theirs. If someone has a concern or question, now is the time to have that conversation with your doctor. I believe that strategy will ultimately maximize the number of Americans who choose to take the vaccine. This is a medical decision, not a political one.
“According to the Mayo Clinic, 87 percent of Americans over age 75 have received at least one dose. And 91.4 percent of individuals age 65-74 have received at least one shot. Since vaccinations began, emergency room visits related to the virus have declined 77 percent among older adults. While some breakthrough infections were reported – that is, infections that occurred after vaccination — those illnesses tended to be milder than infections among unvaccinated people. No vaccine is 100 percent effective. A very small percentage of vaccinated individuals will still get sick – but that is not evidence that the vaccine does not work.
“The delta variant is spreading. I am especially concerned about the lambda variant coming from South and Central America. The Biden Administration must address their self-created border crisis. Dr. Fauci told this subcommittee the Biden Administration was violating CDC guidance at the border by failing to test for COVID and for allowing too many people to be crammed in cages, many with COVID, at detention facilities on the border, only to be shipped around the country, many who are COVID positive.
“We are running out of time to stop the lambda variant. In fact, the dangerous lambda variant is spreading widely in countries like Peru, and now with President Biden’s open border crisis, we’re seeing many illegals starting to spread COVID’s dangerous lambda variant into America. We should be holding a hearing on the super-spreader event that is President Biden’s open border crisis. And Mr. Chairman, we should be having a hearing on the origins of COVID-19!
“But we should not be backsliding on reopening. We should not be flooding the economy with trillions more in government spending. We should be scaling back the emergency federal aid programs.
“The eviction moratorium – I do realize that is the subject of this hearing, Mr. Chairman – the eviction moratorium is a good example. On September 1, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) took the unprecedented step of issuing a temporary national moratorium on evictions for nonpayment of rent, under the guise of limiting the spread of COVID-19 and protecting low-income families who were struggling due to COVID-19.
“In the December Omnibus, Congress appropriated $25 billion for the first Emergency Rental Assistance Program to eliminate rental debt. Congress added an additional $21 billion in a second Emergency Rental Assistance Program via the American Rescue Plan, for a total of $46 billion in emergency rental assistance funds to be distributed by the Biden Administration. As of the end of June, the Biden Administration has pathetically distributed less than 10 percent of this money to renters in need of assistance. The Biden Administration has mismanaged this program, and, unfortunately, our request for Secretary Yellen to appear today and answer valid questions about how that happened was denied in order to cover up this multi-billion-dollar failure.
“The impact of the eviction moratorium has been most heavily felt by mom-and-pop landlords who depend on rental income for their livelihood. The extension of the eviction moratorium has forced many of them to sell their rental properties or to move into their own property and sell other properties.
“The moratorium is an example of why we need to stay focused on reopening America. Setting aside for a moment that a series of federal judges have found the moratorium to be unconstitutional, the fact is, the Administration’s response to renters in need hasn’t worked and has hurt as many people as it helped. The federal government has failed miserably at managing the landlord-tenant relationship.
“Let’s focus on getting the facts out to the people. It is safe to reopen. We have done very well with vaccinating vulnerable populations. COVID deaths have decreased dramatically – but with these new variants, now is a good time for all those who have been hesitant to take a renewed look at getting vaccinated. I yield back.”