Washington, D.C. – Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr., of New Jersey delivered the Weekly Democratic Address. In this week’s address, the Chairman 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 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.”