MURPHY ON SENATE FLOOR: WHY IS THIS ADMINISTRATION WILLING TO LET PEOPLE DIE?

“When it comes to calling in the federal troops to beat the hell out of protesters, this president seemed perfectly willing to exercise his powers as Commander-In-Chief. But when it comes to making sure that my kid's teacher or my local doctor has a mask this fall, this president is all of a sudden impotent.”

WASHINGTON—As reports of testing and personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages across the country grow, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), along with U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), and Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), took to the Senate floor on Wednesday to demand Majority Leader Mitch McConnell bring up their legislation to federalize the medical supply chain for a vote immediately. Introduced by Murphy and Baldwin this spring, the Medical Supply Transparency and Deliver Act requires the president to utilize all available authorities under the Defense Production Act to mobilize a federal response to the pandemic through an equitable and transparent process. Earlier today, Senate Republicans objected to a unanimous consent request to pass the bill, which is supported by 46 Senate Democrats as well as AFL-CIO, SEIU, the National Nurses United, AFSCME, Get Us PPE, and US PIRG. The legislation also was included in the House-passed COVID-19 relief package, the HEROES Act.

During his remarks, Murphy blasted President Trump for failing to fully invoke the Defense Production Act to ramp up production of PPE and testing supplies needed to contain the COVID-19 pandemic and save American lives.

The Medical Supply Transparency and Delivery Act that Senator Baldwin will talk more about, that my colleagues will talk more about, essentially picks up the ball, the president having dropped it. And commands the president to operationalize the Defense Production Act, put somebody in charge of its effectuation to make sure that we are producing in this country all of the medical equipment, the masks, the gloves, the testing reagent, the cartridges that it is possible to produce in this nation,” said Murphy.

Murphy continued: “[T]he level of gleeful, willing, knowing, purposeful incompetence from this administration is absolutely stunning, and no one should normalize an administration which has the power to save lives and refuses to operationalize it. Why won't this administration take control of the supply chain? Why are they willing to let people die? States can't run the supply chain by themselves. It’s a national and international supply chain. Hospitals can't create their own supply chains – they need to be focused on saving lives, not being mini-procurement organizations.”

Murphy added: “When it comes to calling in the federal troops to beat the hell out of protesters, this president seemed perfectly willing to exercise his powers as commander in chief. But when it comes to making sure that my kid's teacher or my local doctor has a mask this fall, this president is all of a sudden impotent. And it falls to us, members of the United States Congress, to stand up and pass legislation, the Medical Supply Transparency and Delivery Act, to make sure, to make sure, that we are using the extent of the statutes provided to this government and to this president to make sure that people are safe and make sure people are tested in the middle of an ongoing epidemic.”

A full transcript of Murphy’s remarks can be found below:

“Thank you, Mr. President. I'm glad to have the opportunity to talk for a bit on the floor of the United States Senate on U.S. policy towards China, because there has been no better friend for Chinese interests in, likely our lifetime, than President Donald J. Trump. Articles suggest that when you survey Chinese Communist Party leaders, they are, to a person, rooting for the re-election of this president.

“And I don't need to go through the litany of ways in which China has become more influential, more powerful all around the world because of this administration's policies. But at the top of that list is the abdication of the United States' traditional leadership role on human rights, which has allowed the Chinese Communist Party to march on the Uighurs and others. It is a failed trade policy that has allowed China to extend its influence into places like Africa and throughout the Silk Road. It's America's break with Europe that has shattered our ability to negotiate together the future rules of the economic order.

“But what China is really ecstatic about, is this president’s performance since March—in the wake of a virus that now shows the United States as having 25% of the world’s COVID cases while only having 4% of the world’s population.

“My friend Senator Blackburn recited the early moments of this virus’ outbreak in China, and she is right that China was non-transparent and unhelpful in those early days. But you know who the greatest cheerleader for China was in the first two to three months of COVID-19’s outbreak there? President Donald Trump.

“On 45 occasions, he went onto social media or gave statements to the press in which he lauded China's response. He talked about how transparent they were, how they were doing a great job. The world community couldn't put pressure on China to open up with respect to what they knew about the virus, in large part because the leader of the nation's most powerful country was doing the bidding of the Chinese government.

“But the second thing that this president has done that makes China very, very pleased is to essentially make the argument for the Chinese that the autocratic model that they are perfecting is the best method by which to organize society around the world. Because they say: listen, we got this virus under control in a matter of months and the world's greatest democracy is still dealing with an epidemic that looks to be raging newly out of control. And so, as we engage in this broad fight between models of governance, our inability, this administration's inability to get this virus under control is maybe the greatest gift that this president has given to China.

“Now, here's what makes it so unconscionable: we know that democracy is inefficient. We know that capital markets can sometimes be inefficient when pressed up against the wall by emergencies. And so we built into the statutes of the United States emergency powers to give to this president, to any president, so that when they are faced with an emergency, they can cure for some of the inefficiencies of democracy.

“We are on the floor today–Senator Baldwin and myself, Senator Stabenow, Senator Brown–to talk about one particular power that this president has. It's an act called the Defense Production Act, and it allows the president during moments of emergency to commandeer parts of the manufacturing supply chain in this country to make sure that we are making everything we need in order to repel a foreign invader. Now, sometimes that may be an army, but in this case it’s a pathogen.

“And what we have known from the very beginning is that there was no way for this country to have enough personal protective equipment, masks, and face shields, and gowns, and gloves. There was no way for this country to be able to have enough tests to know who has it so we can track it and get rid of it without the federal government stepping up and utilizing the Defense Production Act.

“20% of nursing homes today have less than a week's supply of PPE. Doctors at one hospital in Houston where the outbreak is raging out of control are being told to wear their N-95 mask for 15 days in a row when it's recommended for a single use. The national strategic stockpile once had 82 million gloves—today, they have less than one million. And guess what? It's going to get worse.

“More people need to be tested. Schools are about to reopen. The superintendent of the 100,000 student Jefferson County district in Louisville, Kentucky says that he needs $10 million to order face masks alone. $25 billion is how much it's going to cost schools across this country to purchase medical supplies, and these are medical supplies that are going up in price because the supply is so low.

“We have a solution: the Defense Production Act. But we also don't have enough tests. It now takes seven to 10 to 14 days to get a test back. In Connecticut, it used to take just one day. And you can't beat this virus if you don't get results for seven to 10 days. That person who gets tested goes out and spreads it during that time.

“James Davis from Quest Diagnostics said we would double capacity tomorrow, but it's not the labs that are the bottleneck. It's our ability to get physical machines; it's our ability to feed those machines with chemical reagents. Things, equipment, that could be produced in the United States if the president took control of the manufacturing supply chain. Not forever, but for the extent of this crisis.

“And so the Medical Supply Transparency and Delivery Act that Senator Baldwin will talk more about, that my colleagues will talk more about, essentially picks up the ball, the president having dropped it. And commands the president to operationalize the Defense Production Act, put somebody in charge of its effectuation to make sure that we are producing in this country all of the medical equipment, the masks, the gloves, the testing reagent, the cartridges that it is possible to produce in this nation.

“Mr. President, the level of gleeful, willing, knowing, purposeful incompetence from this administration is absolutely stunning, and no one should normalize an administration which has the power to save lives and refuses to operationalize it.

“Why won't this administration take control of the supply chain? Why are they willing to let people die? States can't run the supply chain by themselves. It’s a national and international supply chain. Hospitals can't create their own supply chains—they need to be focused on saving lives, not being mini-procurement organizations.

“We know that democracies and capitalist economies are by nature and design often inefficient when faced with these urgent crises. That's why we give presidents these enormous but temporary powers to smooth out the inefficiencies of a multi-branch, multi-jurisdiction democracy.

“When it comes to calling in the federal troops to beat the hell out of protesters, this president seemed perfectly willing to exercise his powers as Commander-In-Chief. But when it comes to making sure that my kid's teacher or my local doctor has a mask this fall, this president is all of a sudden impotent. And it falls to us, members of the United States Congress, to stand up and pass legislation, the Medical Supply Transparency and Delivery Act, to make sure, to make sure, that we are using the extent of the statutes provided to this government and to this president to make sure that people are safe and make sure people are tested in the middle of an ongoing epidemic.

“I'm glad to be joined here on the floor today by a number of my colleagues to talk about the need to pass this legislation. We are going to offer a unanimous consent request. Senator Baldwin will do that. I've been very pleased to be a partner with her in developing this legislation to require the operationalization of the DPA. But before she speaks, let me turn it over to my colleague and our caucus's leader on issues of health care, Senator Stabenow.”

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