WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding the COVID-19 response:
“Last Thursday, I spoke about the pain and disruption this pandemic has caused this past year.
“I also discussed the optimistic springtime that lies before us.
“This brighter horizon is not a product of a partisan bill that was signed last week… or an administration that was sworn in less than two months ago.
“It was built by the American people, and supported by the five historic and completely bipartisan bills that Congress passed last year.
“Later on Thursday, the nation heard remarks from President Biden. The president spoke in a heartfelt way about grief and loss. But his vision for the days ahead was badly lacking.
“Along a number of crucial dimensions, the Biden Administration keeps trying to rewrite recent history and overrule science.
“The President’s speech tried to reinforce the myth that his administration inherited a shambles on vaccines, set goals that nobody believed were achievable, and has met those goals against all odds.
“This is just not true.
“The President said, quote, ‘I set a goal that many of you said was… way over the top.’ But the benchmark of 100 million vaccines in 100 days was not some audacious goal that was met with great skepticism.
“A million shots per day was just the pace that the Biden Administration inherited. We averaged more than a million shots per day the week of the Inauguration. We totaled more than 1.5 million the day President Biden was sworn in.
“The groundwork we laid last year is proving an historic success. Where the Biden Administration is continuing to help streamline distribution, they should of course get some credit. But their effort to sprint to the front of this year-long campaign should not fool anybody.
“The President announced another supposedly audacious goal on Thursday: That all adults in all 50 states should be eligible to schedule vaccinations by May 1st.
“Here’s the problem: Dr. Fauci said a month ago that we’d be there by April.
“Quote: ‘I would imagine by the time we get to April, that will be what I would call… ‘open season’… namely, virtually everybody and anybody in any category could start to get vaccinated.’ That was Dr. Fauci’s prediction last month.
“So the President’s announcement of May 1st wasn’t ambitious good news; it was a walk-back!
“Something tells me that if the last Administration had contradicted Dr. Fauci and pushed a vaccine milestone back a whole month, we might have heard about it from the media.
“Then there is K-12 schooling. For months, science has confirmed that schools are remarkably safe and do not surge transmission of the virus.
“This Administration’s own experts amplified this before liberal politics got in the way.
“In early February, President Biden’s CDC director specifically said vaccinating the grown-ups who work in schools should not be a prerequisite for reopening them.
“But on Thursday, instead of calling for schools to reopen right now, the President endorsed Big Labor’s moving goalposts.
“He said that because the Democrats passed their spending plan, and because he’s tried to move teachers toward the front of the line for vaccines, now schools can move toward re-opening.
“This approach has put liberal interest-group politics ahead of vulnerable kids and their parents.
“It was reported last week that the following message was posted in a private online group for members of one public-school union in California. Quote:
“Friendly reminder: If you are planning any trips for Spring Break, please keep that off of social media. It is hard to argue that it is unsafe for in-person instruction if parents and the public see vacation photos and international travel.” End quote.
“Further reports from California suggest some local governments may consider using some of the massive bailouts that Democrats sent them on bonuses.
“Reportedly, one union argues that grown-ups should get bonuses for things like, quote, ‘an airplane trip to Hawaii when this is all over.’
“A lot of working-class families in this country are struggling through untenable situations, in large part thanks to the liberal dogma that schools have needed lots more cash to become safe.
“And now unions are talking about trips to Hawaii?
“Every day that the Biden Administration does not urge schools to reopen safely right now with simple precautions, it hurts kids who cannot afford these moving goalposts.
“President Biden also made news with a big proclamation that maybe, if citizens behave themselves, we’ll be able to have small outdoor gatherings by July 4th.
“He made sure to stipulate that politicians reserve the right to clamp down again. But the carrot dangled before Americans was small outdoor gatherings about four months from now.
“This was bizarre and problematic on several levels.
“Number one, let’s be clear: The federal government does not instruct free citizens how they may gather in small groups with their own families.
“I’ve advocated strongly for following science, wearing masks, and taking all the precautions throughout this pandemic.
“The White House confers a bully pulpit. It does not confer supreme authority over daily life.
“Let’s not forget that, about 10 months ago, many liberal politicians applauded massive outdoor gatherings because they supported a political cause.
“I’m not sure how much capital these officials have to micromanage backyard barbecues.
“Number two, this strange proclamation was out of step with science.
“Current CDC guidance says it is already safe, right now, for fully-vaccinated people to meet in small groups. Not just outdoors, but indoors. And they can be joined by an unvaccinated household if they’re low-risk.
“That’s the CDC’s advice — talking not about July 4th, but right now.
“So the President went on national TV to move the goalposts way beyond what his own CDC is saying.
“There’s no science-based reason why a few fully-vaccinated people couldn’t get together outdoors right now. Not July 4th. Today.
“And if a healthy young adult who’s still waiting for the vaccine wants to meet up with a few vaccinated relatives, that’s about a personal assessment of a very small risk, not a matter of presidential policy.
“That brings me to point three: The President’s proclamation was far out of step with what’s already happening across the country.
“It was advice for an alternate universe.
“The President and his advisors may need to get out more. Americans are already getting together in small groups outdoors — in blue states and red states, in small towns and big cities. This country is not locked down, waiting for July the 4th.
“In my home state of Kentucky, the Governor’s backed indoor gatherings of up to eight people from up to two households. Here in the District of Columbia, as of next week, outdoor gatherings of up to 50 people will be permitted. Fifty people.
“Americans are getting vaccines. They’ve learned about this disease. They’ve learned about the low risks of outdoor transmission. They are making their own determinations as free people.
“Look — I have been a consistent advocate for following the science, wearing a mask, and taking precautions. I believe we should all keep following the science.
“Nobody wants to fumble the ball on the five-yard line.
“But that doesn’t just mean citizens. It means politicians too. And science doesn’t only run in the direction of more restrictions.
“The American people were told 12 months ago that accepting major disruptions for a limited time would flatten the curve and prevent a healthcare collapse.
“And Americans rose to the occasion.
“One year on, if the President and his administration want to continue to give advice to free citizens, I suggest they exit the alternate universe… stick to the actual science… and get acquainted with where the American people actually are.”
SOURCE Mitch McConnell
PHOTO CREDIT: Gage Skidmore
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