Democrats seek to nationalize a coronavirus plan

Democrats say the federal government needs to establish a national plan to respond to the coronavirus, including the production and distribution of a coronavirus vaccine.

Frank Pallone holding a sign: WB.Congress.jpg

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Party leaders unveiled their national protocols to ensure “equitable” distribution that wouldn’t happen until the Food and Drug Administration assures the vaccine’s safety.

They call for a national strategy for both testing and local decisions, such as when schools and businesses can reopen.

“This should all be done on a national level,” House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, a New Jersey Democrat, said at a press conference Thursday, adding that the states “don’t know what do do” about school operations.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave states an Oct. 16 deadline to provide plans for how they will distribute a coronavirus vaccine when it becomes available. Democrats want that nationalized, too.

Democrats seek Republican backing for their “National Vaccine Plan,” which would provide $28 billion to develop, manufacture, and “promote access” to coronavirus vaccines and treatments. The money is part of a $2.2 trillion federal aid package that House Democrats passed earlier this month. The GOP has rejected the plan as far too expensive and riddled with spending and provisions unrelated to the coronavirus.

But Democrats argue their plan is centered on the coronavirus, which they say the Trump administration has failed to control in part because President Trump is allowing states to take the lead and has refused to back their spending package.

“This is done in a lot of other countries on the national level,” Pallone said. “And it’s not being done here because the president doesn’t want to have a national plan.”

The latest Democratic package is a pared-down version of a $3 trillion bill the House passed in May.

“While the administration decides to ignore science, has contempt for science, the death toll rises,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, said Thursday. “Since we passed our bill nearly five months ago, over 100,000 more people have died, millions more had been infected, because they want to ignore science.”

Democrats have attacked Trump for promoting a pre-Election Day vaccine and moving to expedite other treatments, including Regeneron, which was used last week to treat his coronavirus infection with apparent success. They want to prevent Trump from using his authority to expedite a vaccine.

“We’re still concerned that he may override the FDA and just go ahead and say, ‘Well, this is the vaccine anyway. It’s OK. You don’t need the FDA approval,'” Pallone said.

Democrats said that Trump has refused to provide a national strategy for testing, treatment, or vaccines. They believe it cannot be left up to the states, which control mask usage and other mitigation efforts, including school and business closures.

As a result, they say, coronavirus mitigation has been inconsistent and has lagged in some states, leading to a lack of contact tracing and further spread of the virus.

Schools are open in some cities and towns, but they remain closed in others, Democrats cited as an example.

The Democratic approach clashes head-on with the Republicans and is among the reasons the two parties have been unable to reach a deal on a new round of federal aid.

Republicans, Democrats, and White House negotiators agree on providing new funding for testing, treatment, and vaccines.

Senate Republicans last month nearly unanimously supported a $500 billion coronavirus aid package that included $16 billion for coronavirus testing and tracing and another $31 billion for vaccine development and treatments.

Republicans and the White House included a lawsuit liability protection provision in their legislation that would enable schools and businesses to reopen, which Democrats excluded from their package in favor of more robust worker safety requirements.

The $2.2 trillion House measure includes $75 billion for coronavirus testing, contact tracing, and isolation steps, “with special attention to the disparities facing communities of color, ensuring every American can access free coronavirus treatment.”

The Democratic measure includes the $28 billion for vaccines, of which $1 billion would be spent on “an evidence-based public awareness campaign.”

Negotiations on a new round of aid have been stalled for weeks due to significant partisan differences in a new aid package’s size and scope.

Trump tweeted last week he had called off the talks, but he later said he is interested in a narrow deal to provide new stimulus checks and aid for the struggling airline industry.

Democrats said they wouldn’t back a smaller deal, in part because it would leave out their national plan to stop the virus.

The states “are not going to be able to have an effective plan” to distribute the vaccine equitably without the money Democrats have included in their measure, Pallone said.

Tags: News, Congress

Original Author: Susan Ferrechio

Original Location: Democrats seek to nationalize a coronavirus plan

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