Rogers Opening Statement at Coronavirus Hearing

WASHINGTON – Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), House Homeland Security Committee ranking member, today delivered an opening statement at a full committee hearing entitled, “Confronting the Coronavirus: The Federal Response.”

As I said last week, our hearts go out to those who have lost their loved ones and those who are currently undergoing treatment.

This is a global event that requires a global response.

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.

Congress has worked closely with current and past administrations to prepare for outbreaks like this. 
Last summer, the President signed into law the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act to enhance government authorities and authorize funding for emergency response and medical countermeasures.

Since 2015, under Republican leadership, we’ve increased funding for infectious disease response by 70 percent.

And just last week, we came together to provide over $8 billion to help public health officials respond to this crisis and expedite the development of a vaccine.

I hope that spirit of bipartisanship will continue as we look at ways to sure up the economy in the wake of this crisis.

But I’m concerned about petty political attacks on the Administration’s response, such as the majority’s attack on the Vice President.

The Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense, as well as the panel of health experts that appeared before us last week agreed that the Vice President should be the one leading the response.

The Vice President is the only one with a direct line to the President and the authority to achieve a whole-of-government, coordinated response to this outbreak.

And unlike the Ebola czar named under the Obama administration, the Vice President is in the chain of command and he didn’t lobby for the pharmaceutical industry.

Last week, we heard from a panel of medical experts who all agreed that the government is doing the best they can under the circumstances.

Today, we have the CDC and the Department of Homeland Security here to talk about their response efforts.

I am interested in hearing how the agencies are using the supplemental funding Congress provided last week, as well as what additional authorities they need to effectively respond to the crisis.

In the middle of a crisis like this, it is very important for political leaders to avoid fanning the flames of hysteria. 

Our job should be to support the response effort and provide the public with accurate and timely information to keep them safe.  

I encourage everyone to heed the advice of our medical professionals – wash your hands, stay home when sick, and visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) website for up-to-date information.

 

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