WASHINGTON, D.C. — Republican Whip and Select Subcommittee Ranking Member Steve Scalise (R-La.) spent the second half of today’s Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis hearing honing in on the billions in available funds appropriated under the CARES Act that states can spend to reopen schools safely, the many consequences of not reopening schools, the success of Operation Warp Speed, and importantly, the threat that China poses to our vaccine research and development efforts.
Whip Scalise closed the hearing with remarks touching on President Trump’s larger plan to combat COVID-19, which began with a series of critical decisions like banning flights from China, and has involved to incorporate historic efforts like Operation Warp Speed. Whip Scalise also addressed the Select Subcommittee Republicans’ oversight efforts to hold governors who implemented deadly “must admit” orders accountable, and concluded by demanding a future hearing on China’s role in creating this pandemic.
Second Round of Questions from Scalise
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Whip Scalise on available funds for safely reopening schools:
“I first want to point out that this is a report from the United States Department of Treasury as of June 30th — based on the CARES Act and the 150 billion dollars that we in Congress, working with President Trump, sent to the states for various COVID-19 recovery issues — every state still has billions of dollars remaining in those accounts.
“And I would urge any school system — because we don’t want any school system to open up without safety precautions, in fact the American Academy of Pediatrics lays out really well how to safely reopen in schools, the Centers for Disease Control lays out very clearly how to safely reopen schools and that includes masks, sanitizers, other supplies — any local school system that wants to claim they don’t have the ability to do that, go straight to your governor.
“Your governor has billions of dollars in their account that we appropriated, sitting there waiting for you to buy supplies. It’s fully eligible, we don’t need to change a law — billions of dollars. Every state has money for supplies. If you run out give us a call, but right now there is money in your state’s account to buy supplies, masks, sanitizers to safely reopen.”
Dr. Redfield on the consequences of not reopening schools:
“I can just re-emphasize what you said and it’s obviously one of the more disturbing consequences of the lack, now, of that reporting — not just at schools, which have been so responsible for mandatory reporting of child abuse but the other place that sometimes [child abuse is] recognized is obviously in the clinical setting. And as we know pediatric visits have been curtailed, a lot of clinical settings.
“So I mean it is a highly significant situation now and you can imagine what it must be like to be one of those recurrently abused children that has sort of lost their safety nets.”
Dr. Fauci on how Operation Warp Speed has achieved remarkable results without sacrificing safety:
“In fact, as I mentioned that, I’ll just reconfirm it right now: is that the speed is not at all at the compromising of safety nor of scientific integrity. Getting from the sequence to the vaccine production with record speed had nothing to do with safety, had nothing to do with cutting corners. From the vaccine to the phase one again, was in record speed, only because red tape was really avoided and as we got into phase three the same thing.”
Whip Scalise on President Trump’s multifaceted plan that has saved lives and will continue to save lives in the fight against COVID-19:
“Some people want to deny that this plan exists, but then of course at the same time they’re criticizing components of the plan. Part of this plan — and there’s thousands more pages online — this is just a small part of President Trump’s plan to combat the coronavirus. Part of the plan included stopping flights to China, which as Dr. Fauci testified under oath, saved lives.
. . .
“Thank God President Trump keeps his focus on carrying out this plan every day, while people are trying to disagree with it and deny that it exists at the same time. And so, when you look at where we are with Operation Warp Speed, this is something that is so incredibly important. Working to find an actual vaccine for the disease.”
Whip Scalise on China’s efforts to disrupt our vaccine research:
“While we’re working feverishly to get the vaccine, China is working feverishly to try to steal the vaccine. We ought to have a hearing on that, Mr. Chairman.”
Whip Scalise on holding governors accountable for deadly “must admit” orders in nursing homes:
“That is part of President Trump’s plan and in fact it is saving lives. If those five governors who did not follow the federal guidelines would have followed the federal guidelines — again as testimony under oath confirmed — thousands of deaths would not have happened. I wish [the governors] would have followed the guidelines, I wish they’d share the data.
“They’re still hiding the data, those five governors — we’ve asked them, those of us on the Republican side, if just one member of the Democrat side, Mr. Chairman, would join us in asking those governors to share the data that they’re hiding from the American people, they’re hiding from the families, the sons, the daughters, the grandchildren of those who died in those nursing homes.”
Whip Scalise on the role that school choice can play during this pandemic:
“There’s never been a better time to make the argument for school choice. For goodness sake, you’ve got some of these unions that are saying they don’t want to go back to school — but as Mr. Jordan pointed out they’re encouraging people to go to a protest where you’re not socially distanced, but they say you shouldn’t be able to safely reopen the school, but they want to take the money.
“How about if there’s another school system that’s willing to safely educate your child, shouldn’t the parent be able to do that? Why deny parents in low-income communities the ability to have the same choice that other people that aren’t in low-income communities have? That ought to be on the table too, because there are systems all across this nation that have figured it out. Again, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel — it’s all there in the President’s plan.”