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Guthrie Criticizes Partisan Process on COVID-19 Bill

Washington, February 11, 2021 | S.K. Bowen (202-225-3501)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Brett Guthrie (KY-02), Republican Leader of the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Health Subcommittee, in his opening remarks at an Energy and Commerce Committee markup criticized Democrats rushing a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 bill without bipartisan negotiations. The committee markup is part of the partisan budget reconciliation process of the COVID-19 bill.

Click HERE to watch Rep. Guthrie’s opening remarks

As Prepared for Delivery

I am disappointed that we have a rushed $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package before us today that did not include bipartisan negotiations, especially since this committee has a strong record of bipartisan work. Together, we have passed nearly $4 trillion in COVID-19 aid, and as of last week, there was still around $1 trillion in unspent COVID-19 relief funds. We need to make sure COVID-19 relief is being used effectively and is targeted to those who need it the most.

Any future COVID-19 relief bill needs to focus on giving everyone the chance to be vaccinated, safely returning all students back to in-person learning, and helping people return to work to rebuild, renew, and restore our country. Small businesses in my district, like a coffee shop in Danville called The Hub, have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Hub has been struggling to stay alive during these difficult times when many Centre College students are virtual. I was most recently there in October and spoke to the owner, Jason Cullen, and my staff helped him with his COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan.

I know people are not just struggling financially during this pandemic. I have heard from local substance abuse providers who have seen an influx in patients. I have also received countless letters asking for help. Recently I have heard from Tracie, a single mother in Glasgow, Kentucky. Tracie is having to manage losing her job due to the pandemic and while taking care of her children, including a six-year-old. We must provide help for Tracie and Americans like her, as well as people struggling with substance abuse. That is not a partisan issue, so that’s why it’s disappointing Democrats have chosen to take a partisan path on this relief package.

Congress has provided $8.75 billion to help states with vaccine distribution. I am disappointed that Kentucky and many other states are falling behind in vaccinating minority communities. Governor Beshear admitted that only around 4.3% of total vaccines have been given to African Americans when the number should be almost double. We know that minority communities are impacted more by COVID-19, so why are they receiving fewer vaccines? Are rural communities receiving the COVID-19 vaccines they need? Before we rush this $1.9 trillion package, we need to be looking at questions like these, conducting oversight of COVID-19 funds, and finding ways to improve our COVID-19 response.

We have had five COVID-19 relief bills signed into law with bipartisan support, and I’m proud to support the last five bills to help Kentucky businesses, families, and communities. I urge my Democrat colleagues to work together with Republicans to get our kids back in school and provide targeted relief to specific individuals in need.

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