Writer and public speaker Claire Cook said: “If plan A doesn’t work, the alphabet has 25 more letters."
Plan A was to have the COVID-19 crisis over by Easter, but we all know that didn’t happen. We must act now so folks won’t still be hurting at Thanksgiving or Christmas. Leaving D.C. with the nation’s work undone is simply not acceptable. On Tuesday, I joined a number of my colleagues in sending a bipartisan letter to Speaker Pelosi and GOP Leader McCarthy urging them to keep the House in session until we pass a COVID relief bill that delivers REAL help to American families, small businesses, schools, hospitals, and states and local governments. Democratic Leader Hoyer said today that the House should vote on a COVID relief bill next week, which you can see HERE. We’re anticipating we’ll get details from that plan soon.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell agreed we need to get a COVID relief package done to help the economy continue its recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, which you can see HERE.
On Friday, I will sign a discharge petition that’s being introduced by Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA) that would force a vote on the House floor to extend the lifeline Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). This is a little-used legislative procedure but would force immediate consideration should the Speaker not schedule the legislation on the Floor. After it is introduced, should the petition garner 218 signatures from Representatives, the House will then be compelled to vote on whether to bring to the floor a bill to distribute the remaining $134 billion in current PPP reserves that are now sitting idle after the program’s August 8 expiration. I expect most of my Republican colleagues and a number of Democrat members of the bipartisan Problem Solver’s Caucus will consider signing.
News on the vaccine front – the FDA submitted the proposed guidelines for authorizing emergency use of a Covid-19 vaccine to the White House and HHS for review, requiring any potential Covid-19 vaccine to meet rigorous, strict safety standards to gain a speedy clearance for use, and you can read more about that HERE in the Wall Street Journal. Today, Dr. Fauci, CDC Director Robert Redfield, Assistant Secretary For Health Dr. Brett Giroir, and Dr. Stephen Hahn, the director of the Food and Drug Administration, testified on Capitol Hill. Redfield said that he believes we will have 700 million doses of the vaccine based on projection by late March or early April. Dr. Anthony Fauci agreed with him. You can read more about the hearing HERE. Dr. Giroir’s testimony can be read HERE.
Johnson & Johnson said Wednesday it has begun its phase three trial, testing its potential coronavirus vaccine. This is certainly good news. They join three other companies that are at late-stage testing of its vaccine, and you can read more HERE.
Earlier this week, the House passed unanimously the Strengthening America’s Strategic National Stockpile Act. I was proud to cosponsor this bill which was introduced by my Problem Solver’s Caucus colleague Elissa Slotkin (D-MI). If enacted, the legislation would reduce America’s dependence on foreign sources of critical medical supplies the country needs to fight COVID-19 by making much-needed improvements and updates to America’s Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) and boosting domestic manufacturing of those supplies here in America. We need to start producing more PPE and other medical equipment here so that our hospitals and first responders have what they need to protect themselves and others. This bill allows us to do that.
Lastly, here’s another PSA on getting your flu shot this year. A flu outbreak coupled with the challenges we’re facing from COVID-19 could cause real problems to our health care system, which you can read more about HERE. I’d encourage you to get this year’s flu shot. I got mine earlier this week. Click HERE to see the nearest location to you.
All the best,