October 6, 2020
@MyKitchenTable: Tuesday, October 6, 2020
My friend and fellow Energy and Commerce Committee member, Mike Doyle (D-PA), spoke at last week’s congressional prayer breakfast in the Capitol. His scripture reading was 2 Corinthians 4:18. “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen. Since what is seen is temporary but what is unseen is eternal.”
Let’s hope that some unseen work occurs in the next day or two to make sure that there is a lifeline for recovery from this pandemic that did not end at Easter.
As I begin to write today’s KT, it is wholly different from what I would have started writing this morning. This morning I was “hopeful” that we were beginning to close in on a bipartisan deal that would provide the necessary relief to so many that are hurting. PPP, stimulus checks, money for our schools due to their added expenses, help for our cities, counties, and townships based on real added expenses and losses of revenues with firewalls to make sure it didn’t bail out non-Covid expenses (Illinois pension funds being the poster child), help for the airlines that otherwise will fail and may never recover, broadband, liability relief, testing resources. Many of these items were agreed to by the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus and formally presented in our “March to Common Ground” proposal released two weeks ago. Discussions continued through the weekend and hopes were that by the end of this week, a formal framework could be “signed-off,” and the legislative text could be written and perhaps ready to vote on by the end of next week.
I was optimistic, and you can hear my optimism when I was on Michigan’s Big Show with Michael Patrick Shiels yesterday morning, which you can listen to HERE.
The rumors were good ones....until this afternoon.
Speaker Pelosi tried Thursday night to pass another purely partisan bill but it did not include liability relief which is a “bottom-line” demand by the Senate majority as well as a good number of us in the House. It also included a number of “poison pills.” She muscled it through and ten Republican House Members were not there to vote, and it passed 214-207. No partisan bill narrowly passed will ever get the attention of the “other body” in such a situation. DOA...as this version was accurately defined.
Still, the work went on through the weekend. One of the major airline’s CEOs reached out to the House democrat leadership and indicated the tens of thousands of airline layoffs would be real. Let’s face it, many observers would wonder if they would ever get their feet on the ground or their wings in the air if allowed to fail. Before I could board my plane back to Michigan, Pelosi sent the public word that she was prepared to bring a “stand-alone” bill that would provide the resources for the airlines.
Late today, the president’s tweet that negotiations would not resume until after the election could well mean “no deal” until next year. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said today that Congress should err on the side of overdoing it with the next economic relief bill, saying a conservative approach could imperil a rebound from the coronavirus recession. You can see that Politico story HERE or a CNN story HERE.
Let’s hope together that something unseen is happening behind the curtain and we can get back on track. There is some evidence that the door is not quite shut and locked.
NIH Director Francis Collins posted a story worth reading: “Rogue Antibodies and Gene Mutations explain some cases of severe COVID-19.” This funded research explains why some infected individuals bounce back right away and some become critically ill. You can read that story HERE.
Beginning 10/1, American hospitals can purchase Veklury (remdesivir) directly from the drug’s distributor. Over the past five months, the U.S. government has overseen the allocation and distribution of Veklury due to the drug’s limited supply to ensure fair and equitable distribution to COVID patients. The current supply exceeds market demand. Gilead anticipates producing sufficient quantities of Veklury to meet current needs and future demands from any waves of infections and hospitals will continue to pay no more than Gilead’s wholesale acquisition price of approximately $3,200/treatment. You can read the full story HERE.
Earlier today I participated in a zoom call with a number of school-community health alliance members and students across our district. They were ecstatic with the House passage last week of the Reauthorization of the school-based health center legislation. I was an original GOP leader in the effort that moved through the Energy and Commerce Committee a few weeks ago. The legislation provides greater access to health care particularly in the underserved population and provides real preventive health care services with cost-effective and substantial savings. Something unseen perhaps in the general community with real impact on the lives of the most vulnerable.
All the best,