Fighting Back: “Democrats want to SAFELY reopen the economy using science and data.”

 
 

The Weekly Democratic Party Address was delivered by Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey talking about the failures of the Trump “Administration” and the need for testing and tracing to allow for safely reopening the economy in the midst of this pandemic.

(Chairman Frank Pallone of the Energy and Commerce Committee discussed the Trump Administration’s continued coronavirus testing failures and the strong testing strategy in The Heroes Act. )

“This national emergency requires every aspect of government to work together. We must reduce the spread of the virus so we can confidently begin to reopen our economy and get more than 40 million Americans, who’ve lost their jobs as a result of this pandemic, back to work.

“And the only way we can do that is through a coordinated national strategy: a strategy that significantly boosts testing and invests resources into contact tracing, surveillance and containment. We simply cannot fight this pandemic if we don’t know who has it and where it is being spread. And that requires a national strategy and response.

“Unfortunately, President Trump and his Administration have failed to provide the consistent and stable leadership that is necessary to guard our nation through this public health and economic crisis. Instead of showing leadership, competence and vision, the Trump Administration is shirking all responsibility and is instead forcing states to find their own way out of this pandemic. […]

“This cannot continue. With more than 100,000 Americans dead, we must collectively find solutions, like The Heroes Act, that will help us finally stop the spread of this virus. It is the only way we will be able to protect the American people, and safely and confidently reopen our communities.

(CSPAN link to Weekly Democratic Address: here)

Transcript: Chairman Frank Pallone Delivers Weekly Democratic Address

“Hello, I’m Congressman Frank Pallone from New Jersey.

“This week, our nation mourns the loss of 100,000 Americans to the coronavirus. It’s a staggering number and grim milestone. Families all around our nation continue to grieve lost ones, oftentimes from a distance.

“While it’s difficult to even comprehend this loss, it reminds us that we must come together to combat this terrible virus so that we can save lives and protect communities in the weeks and months ahead.

“This national emergency requires every aspect of government to work together. We must reduce the spread of the virus so we can confidently begin to reopen our economy and get more than 40 million Americans, who’ve lost their jobs as a result of this pandemic, back to work.

“And the only way we can do that is through a coordinated national strategy: a strategy that significantly boosts testing and invests resources into contact tracing, surveillance and containment. We simply cannot fight this pandemic if we don’t know who has it and where it is being spread. And that requires a national strategy and response.

“Unfortunately, President Trump and his Administration have failed to provide the consistent and stable leadership that is necessary to guard our nation through this public health and economic crisis. Instead of showing leadership, competence and vision, the Trump Administration is shirking all responsibility and is instead forcing states to find their own way out of this pandemic.

“For months, the President has refused to develop and implement a national testing program. For months, we’ve been promised millions of tests were right around the corner and that everyone that wanted a test could get one.

“These promises have been hollow. Testing is getting better, but public health experts continue to warn that our country is far short of the testing we need. And the failure of national leadership has forced states to compete against each other to procure tests and the vital supplies needed to administer tests from the private market.

“We simply cannot allow the Trump Administration’s failures to persist, and that’s why House Democrats took bold action and passed The Heroes Act earlier this month. This legislation continues our ongoing commitment to providing the health care resources and support needed to combat the coronavirus crisis.

“The Heroes Act will strengthen testing by finally requiring the Trump Administration to develop comprehensive, coordinated strategies for testing, contact tracing and surveillance. The Administration will be required to include clear benchmarks and timelines. It will also be forced to publicly report key metrics.

“These requirements are critical to bringing much needed transparency to our nation’s response efforts. It will allow us to see if the Trump Administration is fulfilling their promises and hold them accountable when they are not.

“The Heroes Act also provides up to $75 billion in grants to support robust testing, contact tracing, surveillance and containment activities. It also provides additional funding to communities that have a high number of COVID-19 cases or are experiencing a surge, as well as for areas with populations experiencing disparities. This includes low-income and the uninsured, communities of color, people with disabilities and other underserved communities.

“We simply cannot beat this virus without these efforts in place.

“The Heroes Act builds on the progress we have made and lays the foundation we will need to ease social distancing and safely reopen the economy.

“Now, it’s time for the Senate to act. Unfortunately, to date, Senate Majority Leader McConnell continues to delay and obstruct.

“This cannot continue. With more than 100,000 Americans dead, we must collectively find solutions, like The Heroes Act, that will help us finally stop the spread of this virus. It is the only way we will be able to protect the American people, and safely and confidently reopen our communities.

“I thank you for listening, and please, stay safe.”

Any bolding has been added.

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Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s weekly news conference from Thursday:

Transcript: Transcript of Pelosi Press Conference

Speaker Pelosi. Good morning, everyone.

Thank you for being here, a very sad time as we observe over 100,000 people in our country dying of the coronavirus. So sad. We’ll always carry them in our hearts, that big number of people. It is a scar on our nation that we could not save them. It is sad for their families, and they are in our thoughts and prayers.

On top of that, 1.7 million have been diagnosed. 1.7 million people have been diagnosed. There has to be a stop to this. The answer is testing. We have in our Heroes Act a plan for testing: testing to open up our economy, testing to open up our schools, testing to heal. But in order to heal, we have to know the gravity of the problem.

You know, we talk a great deal about a vaccine and a cure, and, God-willing, we pray that that will be soon. But we don’t have it yet, and we do have testing. And you notice in countries that have controlled the spread and the deaths from the virus, they don’t have a vaccine. They don’t have a cure. But they have common sense. They have used testing, tracing, treatment and separation – isolation where necessary. And that’s exactly what we should have been doing all along.

On March 4th, the House passed a bill, its first bill on the coronavirus. We wrote it in February, brought it to the Floor March 4th. It was about testing, testing, testing. Throughout all of our legislation, which has all been bipartisan thus far, it’s been about some testing or the masking and the things that we need to prevent the spread of the virus.

The CARES Act, we put forth resources. In the interim bill, the interim bill on PPP, we put forth a major $100 billion for health, for testing and for hospitals. And now in The Heroes – and still, we have not had from the Executive branch the appropriate determination and strategy to test. People are dying: 100,000, over 100,000. People are sick. There’s a horrible impact in the communities of color in our country. So many of the deaths, at least one third, are our seniors in nursing homes and the rest. And, yet, we can’t seem to get the Executive branch, the President of the United States, to make the decision to show the example of what we can do to stop this.

Yesterday, we came here, many of you were with us, with representatives of the Congressional Black Caucus, the Hispanic Caucus, the CAPAC, the Congressional [Asian Pacific American Caucus], the Native American – one of the first Native American women ever to serve in Congress, Deb Haaland, with our distinguished Whip, Mr. Clyburn, and Mr. Pallone, the Chair of Energy and Commerce Committee.

Mr. Pallone talked about what’s in the bill, The Heroes Act, the Energy and Commerce piece, which is about a robust and rapid testing initiative, a strategy; a strategy with a timetable, benchmarks, milestones and the resources necessary to get the job done, and the job is to save lives.

And those who were gathered here yesterday were pointing out how affected communities of color are by this, but there’s not adequate testing there. We’ve got to get a handle on the challenge that we face. And we can only do that if we test, if we trace and, then, if we treat, we can reduce the number of deaths and, of course, the isolation that goes with it and wearing masks and following common sense and good guidance.

So this – I’m here today to say to you 100,000 people. How many more of those – how many of those could have been saved? We have example after example after example. The plural of anecdote, we always say in appropriations, is not data, but the fact is it is illustrative of the fact that people are dying who don’t have to die. And the data is what we want them to collect. And that’s part of the plan too, to collect the data so that we know the impact so we can save the lives, so that we can kill and defeat this virus.

As our hearts are broken over over 100,000 deaths, we’re also very sad about what happened in the case in Minnesota. Mr. Floyd’s – to watch Mr. Floyd be murdered in a video, at a time when we’re all so sad to begin with. It’s always tragic. It has always been tragic. But there we saw it on TV, him being murdered on TV.

So, our Congressional Black Caucus is working with the Judiciary Committee. There’s correspondence that will be going to the Judiciary Committee. That’s their information to share. We have a Commission on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys that Congresswoman Frederica Wilson has been pushing for a while now. So there are all kinds of expressions of concern, but not just expressions of concern, plans to take action so that this stops, so that this stops.

So, again, I spent my time talking to you about testing because it is – what’s in The Heroes Act, I’ll be specific: strengthening its testing and contact tracing by requiring an updated testing plan with clear benchmarks and timelines – I mentioned that – providing $75 billion in grants to support testing, tracing and isolation, with special focus on addressing disparities. And that money will be distributed to the states, and we want the tracing to be done by those who are culturally compatible with the communities in which they are collecting data and tracing, and require, again, culturally and linguistically appropriate strategies for increasing access.

With all of this, with all these deaths, the need for us to pass so that, as law, more specific prescribed direction to the Administration, who should have done this on their own. Mitch McConnell says: ‘No, we need a pause.’ We need a pause? Tell that to the virus. Is the virus taking a pause? Is hunger in America taking a pause?

Do you see that the children in America have food insecurity to such an extent, even though we have passed legislation to provide more food for children who are not in school because that’s where they get their main meals. But we have to be more effective in how that is distributed and we need more resources, and that’s in The Heroes Act as well.

The Heroes Act is an answer. It has a strategy. It has three main pillars. Honor our heroes: our health care workers, our public safety, police, fire, emergency services, food suppliers, sanitation, transportation, our teachers, our teachers, our teachers. They risk their lives, many of them, to save lives and now they may lose their jobs, and that’s why we have to support state and local government.

Secondly: testing, testing, testing. You want to open up the schools? You want to open up the economy? You want to keep people healthy? There’s an answer, and it works: testing, tracing, treatment, isolation. Make a decision, Mr. President, to do just that. Take responsibility.

And, third, put money in the pockets of the American people. All three of these we’ve done in a bipartisan way, already, and we need to do more. We cannot take a pause. And, again, there are many things within there in terms of having safety in the workplace with OSHA, having support of our Post Office, where over one billion – last year a billion packages of medicine were sent through the mail. It’s a health issue. Ninety percent of our veterans’ medicine comes to them through the mail. It’s a health issue.

Vote-by-mail, it’s a health issue. It’s always been the health of our democracy, and now it’s a personal health issue as well. And food security. What is their response when they have turned down our request for more funding for food stamps, for SNAP, for emergency food services, for WIC – women, infant and children – for all of those initiatives? How cruel can you be to say, at a time of this economic uncertainty, that we are not going to provide more funding for food?

Fortunately, there are people around the country, in a bipartisan way, who are acting upon all of these initiatives. They’re causing a drumbeat across America, an echo chamber of America to say: We can’t wait. We need to get the job done. So we are on that.

Now, I’m going to talk to you about the – well, what happened yesterday on the Floor that I’m very happy about, the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act in a very bipartisan way, overwhelmingly we voted on legislation. Senator Rubio has been a leader on this. In the House, Chris Smith, Mike McCaul brought the bill to the Floor with Eliot Engel, our Chairman of Armed Services – excuse me, Foreign Affairs Committee, Mr. Sherman and Mr. Suozzi and others. Jim McGovern, of course, has been our champion on human rights in China and every place else in the world. So, we’re very pleased of that.

And now as we approach the 31st anniversary of Tiananmen Square, more focus on human rights in China, Tibet, Hong Kong, all of China, including in Beijing and of course with the Uyghurs. The statement that was made by the Secretary of State about – under the law that we passed last fall, which was a strengthening of the Hong Kong Democracy Act, the Secretary of State had to certify that China was honoring the basic law, the terms of the relationship of ‘one country, two systems.’ The Secretary has stated that he cannot certify that that is the case. And so, we want everyone to oppose this law that the Chinese are putting forth to take away that autonomy from Hong Kong.

So much going on. So much going on. Again, today on the Floor, we are not going to be taking up the bill that was sent over by the Senate, the FISA bill.

Yesterday, in the morning, the Republican of the committee of jurisdiction, one of the committees of jurisdiction, Judiciary, Mr. Jordan, testified in favor of the bill. Sometime after that, the President said he would veto the bill, so all of the Republicans then abandoned their commitment to security and said that they were going to vote against the bill.

This has always been bipartisan. Mr. Jordan said in the committee yesterday, ‘I would like to thank Senators Lee and Leahy for their amendment to the House-passed bill, which strengthens the amicus role in these proceedings by extending them to any sensitive investigative matter involving U.S. persons.’ This was in his testimony in support of the bill yesterday, until the President spoke, and then, all of a sudden, the commitment to national security disappeared by a tweet, twinkle of a tweet, as they say, disappeared.

So, this has always been bipartisan, and I don’t have any intention of departing from the fact that, on FISA bills, we are always going to have to go in a bipartisan way. And if the Republicans were abandoning their commitment to that because of the President, that means we could not override his veto. So we didn’t want to subject everyone to something that was not consistent with what we did just about two and a half months ago when we passed a bipartisan bill. Two-thirds of the Democrats, two-thirds of the Republicans voted for the legislation, overwhelmingly veto-proof, sent it to the Senate.

The Senate sent back a bill with 80 Republicans – 80, excuse me, Senators voting for it, [48] Republicans. [48] Republicans voted for that strengthened FISA bill, strengthening the protections for American people in it. And then the President said he would veto it.

But it’s no surprise because the Administration, especially those in the Justice Department, really don’t want any bill that provides protections for the American people. They want to have all of the leeway in the world to do what they do. It’s most unfortunate.

But we will, hopefully, go to conference so that we can represent and debate all of the views in our Caucus and their Caucuses, the Republican Caucuses, Democratic Caucuses to come up with a bipartisan legislation because I do believe we need a bill in order to protect our security and our liberty. Security and liberty, always the balance that we have. But with all the technology that is out there, we have to take extra steps in terms of protecting privacy and the rest.

So, with that, I would yield to any questions you may have.

I want to just mention in closing: 41 million Americans out of work. 41 million Americans out of work. Over 100,000 people have died; more than a million and a half people infected by this, and we are not taking the strong position, robust, strong position that we must take to do what we know works. It works in other countries. It works in certain communities that abide by it. We have to put the resources there to make sure that we do the proper outreach to define the problem, to test, trace, treat, save lives and isolate.

Press questioning followed (see transcript)

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1 Comment

  1. From Speaker Pelosi’s Newsroom: Pelosi Statement on Charges Filed Against Ex-Officer in George Floyd Murder

    May 29, 2020
    San Francisco – Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued this statement following the announcement that ex-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin had been arrested and charged with 3rd-degree murder and manslaughter in the recent murder of George Floyd:

    “Our hearts ache for the family of George Floyd and the entire Minneapolis community. On Monday, our nation witnessed a man being murdered on TV. It is outrageous that it took a week and national outcry to finally begin the process of seeking justice for George Floyd. We must remain vigilant and ensure a complete and credible investigation to guarantee that all those responsible are fully brought to justice.

    “At this moment of immense sadness across America, our communities are grieving for the staggering loss of life from the coronavirus, which we have never seen in our lifetime. What we have seen over time is a pattern of police violence particularly against the African American community that is sadly not new to us.

    “While we respect the difficult role of law enforcement to keep our communities safe, we also expect them to fulfill their duty with respect for the rights of all Americans. We will not rest until justice has been done and will continue to insist on the truth that Black Lives Matter.

    “At this challenging time, our nation needs real leadership. Yet, instead of bringing our nation together, the President has presented a tone-deaf response that does not condemn racism and violence.

    “May it be a comfort to the Floyd family that so many mourn their loss and pray for them during this sad time.”

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