@MyKitchenTable: Monday, March 1, 2021
“Hope in every sphere of life is a privilege that attaches to action. No action, no hope.” – Peter Levi.
The quote is a favorite of my friend and NIH Director Francis Collins, who is part of the team taking action to bring us hope and to bring an end to the COVID-19 crisis once and for all. Last week he spoke and recommended the following websites to get the latest, most reliable information on the COVID-19 pandemic:
All the sites show that the data is improving – but we have to stay vigilant. There are still too many cases in the United States. And last week we crossed the 500,000 COVID-19 deaths mark, such a tragedy. Please be safe, continue to wear your mask, and get the vaccine as soon as you are able to.
The good news we have is that this past weekend the FDA issued Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine – the first single-shot vaccine in the country. J&J has already started shipping the vaccine, which is giving us a powerful third option to crush this virus. They expect to deliver more than 20 million doses across the U.S. by the end of March, and 100 million doses in the first half of 2021. Such encouraging news, and you can read more about it HERE.
At the end of last week, it was such an honor to meet some of the Michigan National Guard troops who are stationed at the Capitol. So many of them are from southwest Michigan, like SSGT John Cole from Van Buren County. We are so grateful for all of their service.
Early Saturday morning, House Democrats pushed through their $1.9 trillion plan that includes far too much spending on non-COVID related items. It includes some items that I support – including more stimulus checks, relief for small businesses, and billions of dollars more to help accelerate the COVID-19 vaccine effort. But it is also bloated full of non-COVID related measures like bridges and railways in California and New York.
The Congress has already passed $4 trillion in spending to help Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic. And every package has been bipartisan because it’s not just Republicans or Democrats struggling – all Americans have been impacted. This past bill – which passed without any Republican support and with even two Democrats voting against it – was not the way to do this. I hope the Senate is able to adopt a number of legislative amendments that were denied from being offered in the House to address the non-COVID spending issues in this bill. We need a targeted, bipartisan relief package that helps the Americans struggling most without just throwing more money at the problem. This legislation can be improved and we can do more to help the American people by working together.
I returned to Washington today as this week promises to be a busy one. We will be considering a vote on the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. As you may know, I voted for this police reform bill last summer but made it very clear I had strong objections to the qualified immunity (QI) language in the bill. Yes, we need police reform in this country. No, defunding the police is not the right answer. I want to be part of the solution and seek common ground on this issue. But the qualified immunity provision in the bill as it is right now would truly hinder law enforcement’s ability to train and recruit good officers. I have been working with my Problem Solver’s Caucus colleagues on resolving the QI provision in the bill, but it appears our progress will not be included in the bill we vote on, so I will be a no.
A few additional news and notes about COVID-19 vaccines.
- There’s a phone scam going around Michigan trying to use the COVID-19 vaccine as a way to target unsuspecting people. Be aware. Learn more in MLIVE HERE.
- Michigan is expected to get almost a half-million COVID-19 vaccine doses this week, the largest shipments of vaccines to the state to date. You can learn more HERE.
- I’ll soon be hosting teletown halls with local public health officials for residents to learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine. Be sure to stay tuned for more information about how to participate in those.
All the best,