WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, joined CBS’s Face the Nation to discuss the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus epidemic and ongoing negotiations in Afghanistan.

Connecticut reported their first case of coronavirus in the state Saturday. Murphy voted to support the bipartisan $8.3 billion supplemental funding bill in the Senate, which President Trump signed into law on Friday, and called for swift passage once it was released in the House.

Excerpts from Murphy’s interview with Margaret Brennan are below:

On the first confirmed case of coronavirus in the state of Connecticut, Murphy said: “I think we have no concept of the scope of this epidemic yet because we have not been able to test. And the fact of the matter is, we can't make good judgments about the measures we should be taking in Seattle, or in Danbury, or Hartford, unless we are able to do these tests.

“We now have private lab capacity to do tests. But our understanding is that we are nowhere near that number that was proffered by the administration last [week] of a million. We are doing a lot more screening in our state. But we do not have the ability to give a test to everyone who wants one, as the president said was the case on Friday afternoon. And that is incredibly concerning.”

On the need for federal assistance for states to help combat and respond to the virus, Murphy said: “Well, I think that is right, that for each individual American, the risk is still low. But if we do get into a situation where we are taking measures on a city by city or state by state basis in which there are massive school closures, all of a sudden the effect on the average American is very high. And we are simply not ready to be able to support families if schools are closed for two weeks or three weeks in certain municipalities or certain states and we could have been doing that planning well before now.”


“So, I think we need to be prepared for school closures and business closures. And we need to understand that no city is going to take those measures unless there is some assistance from the federal government.

“So what we should be talking about right now are things like paid sick leave. Putting the federal government in a position to be able to assist workers if they have to stay home to take care of a sick child or to quarantine themselves. Instead, we're talking about industry bailouts and tax cuts. We should be talking about assistance for average Americans. And that's not a conversation that's happening.”

“[T]he first wave of federal assistance to states will help. The states now have some additional resources to stand up more response efforts. But again, that money came way too late. We were begging the administration for an emergency supplemental back in February, and they refused to give it, they refused to come to Congress to ask for that money. And I'm glad Congress came to the rescue last week, but that money could have been out the door a lot earlier.”

On the response from the administration to Murphy added: “[W]hat is inhibiting our response in the United States is in part, a president who is lying to the American people. Who's telling them that a vaccine is a couple months away, who's telling everybody that they can get tested if they want. If we really want to talk about what is going to potentially create panic in this country, it’s an administration that's just not being straight with the American public about the extent of this epidemic and the real life consequences that could be put upon Americans.”


“Given the fact that we saw this epidemic coming we could have made a decision back in January or February to accept the WHO test that was available to us, or start putting serious resources into developing our own tests. The administration did neither. And they did neither, Margaret, because this president has created a culture of misinformation in which no one wants to give him bad news. And that created a disincentive in the White House and in the administration to come up with an early test”

On the president’s phone call with a founding Taliban member Murphy added: “So I don't think this is a good deal with the Taliban. He had made promises that there wouldn't be prisoner releases and there are reportedly massive prisoner releases as a requirement of this deal.

“At the same time though, I have generally been supportive of the idea of sitting down and trying to negotiate an agreement with the Taliban in which they agree to never again harbor terrorists that may attack the United States in exchange for a phased U.S. withdrawal.

“What we are doing today is not working. Another 20 years of U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan is not the answer. So I think it was inevitable that the deal this president cut was not going to be as good as a deal that the Obama administration could have cut, but I don't know what the alternative was to having these conversations.”

Click here to view the entirety of Murphy’s interview.