U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., sharply criticized the Trump administration on Thursday for its handling of the COVID-19 crisis over the last few months.
Murray, ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, delivered opening remarks in Washington, D.C., at a HELP Committee hearing on the crisis and the need to improve testing.
“Our committee’s last hearing on COVID-19 was on March 3,” Murray said, according to a news release from her office. “During that hearing I expressed my intense frustration at the administration’s lack of preparedness, its failure to ramp up testing, the White House’s constant contradictions of public health experts’ guidance, and more. More than 60 days later, I wish I could say that I had better things to say about the administration’s response, but I do not.
“The only difference is that now, over 800 people in my home state have died, nationwide over 73,000 people are dead, and tens of millions are unemployed. Meanwhile, the president is still denying the severity of this crisis, he is still insisting it is not his problem, and he is increasingly attempting to control and silence those who want the truth to be told. The president is afraid of the truth, because here it is: he failed—and continues to fail—to protect lives, our economy, and our way of life.”
Murray also spoke at length about the need for the Trump administration to release and implement a national plan to rapidly ramp up testing. Murray secured language in Congress’ most recent COVID-19 response legislation requiring the Trump administration to submit such a plan by May 24. In her remarks, she stressed the importance of this plan, and detailed the issues the administration’s plan needs to address.
“The problem isn’t a lack of innovation—it’s a lack of national leadership, and a plan from the White House,” Murray said. “You can innovate the fastest car in the world—it still won’t get you where you’re going without a good driver and good directions. And when it comes to testing, this administration has had no map, and no one at the wheel. There’s a reason they say failing to plan is planning to fail, and it absolutely applies here… No matter how innovative our tests are, we can’t reopen our country safely until they are fast, free, and everywhere.”
Testifying at Thursday’s hearing were Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health, and Dr. Gary Disbrow, Acting Director of the Biomedical Advanced Research And Development Authority.
The HELP Committee will have another hearing on the COVID-19 response next Tuesday with Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health; Dr. Robert Redfield, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Admiral Brett Giroir, Assistant Secretary For Health and Dr. Stephen Hahn, Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration.