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WASHINGTON – Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), House Homeland Security Committee ranking member, today delivered an opening statement at a hearing entitled “Examining the National Response to the Worsening Coronavirus Pandemic.”
“I appreciate you granting my request to allow Members to use the hearing room today,” Rogers said. “We should be conducting our important oversight and legislative business here in Washington. We are much more productive when Members are here, in person, doing our work together. We’ve already proven we can do it safely. I hope we will return to regular order as soon as possible.”
Rogers’ remarks, as prepared for delivery:
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I appreciate you granting my request to allow Members to use the hearing room today.
As you know, I strongly disagree with the Speaker’s unilateral decision to shut down the House of Representatives. We should be conducting our important oversight and legislative business here in Washington.
We are much more productive when Members are here, in person, doing our work together. We’ve already proven we can do it safely. I hope we will return to regular order as soon as possible.
As I said before, our hearts go out to those who have lost their loved ones to COVID-19 and those who are currently undergoing treatment. COVID-19 is an unprecedented global pandemic that requires an unprecedented response.
Unfortunately, we lost precious time early in the response when China hid the disease from the world. For weeks the Chinese Communist Party refused entry to outside medical experts. The Chinese suppressed journalists from reporting. Worst of all, China deliberately withheld evidence of the virus’ structure and deadly spread.
During this, the Chinese hoarded life-saving medical supplies and encouraged foreign travel, seeding the virus across the globe. I want to commend Ranking Member McCaul’s work on the Foreign Affairs Committee to extensively document this deadly cover-up in a recent report.
It’s clear that China has pulled out all the stops to manipulate everyone from media outlets to the World Health Organization. The WHO maintained for months that China had promptly self-reported COVID-19.
They did not.
And after months of lying the WHO has come clean. The WHO now says it found out about COVID from media reports and whistleblowers from China. The Chinese Communist Party once again has been caught with blood on its hands.
Facing an extraordinary public health crisis and China’s deadly coverup, the Trump Administration has responded with a whole of government response.
To date, the Administration has –
- Prohibited the entry of travelers from global hot spots;
- Invoked the Defense Production Act to increase supplies of critically needed medical equipment, such as ventilators;
- Coordinated the delivery of over 167 million respirators, 682 million surgical masks, and 17 billion gloves;
- Sent over $125 billion to the states to support the medical response to COVID-19;
- Distributed over $500 billion in PPP loans to small business; and
- Helped facilitate the testing of over 36 million tests.
In fact, we are now capable of conducting over 700,000 tests per day.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that the number of positive tests are rising in many areas. That’s why it’s so important for all Americans to continue to heed the advice of our federal, state, and local public health officials.
I am pleased to see a couple of public health and emergency response officials on the panel today.
Colonel Hastings currently serves as the Director of Alabama’s Emergency Management Agency. He had a very distinguished 30 year career in the Air Force. For the last 3 years, he has done a tremendous job leading EMA’s response to several natural disasters and now the COVID-19 pandemic. Colonel, thank you for joining us today. I appreciate all the witnesses for appearing.
I look forward to hearing how you all are using the emergency funding and resources provided by Congress and the Administration to respond to this crisis.
I am also interested in knowing what more Congress can do to help you effectively respond. Our country has faced outbreaks of serious disease in the past. In each case, we’ve marshalled our collective resources and ingenuity to overcome the crisis.
I’m confident that will be the case with COVID-19.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield back.