Latest News

Guthrie Speaks in Support of the Pandemic is Over Act on House Floor

Washington, January 31, 2023 | S.K. Bowen (202-225-3501)

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Congressman Brett Guthrie (KY-02), who serves as the Chair of the Health Subcommittee on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, spoke on the House floor on the Pandemic is Over Act, a bill to end the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE), ahead of the bill’s vote.

Click HERE to watch Rep. Guthrie’s House floor remarks

As Prepared for Delivery

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today I rise to push for immediate and overwhelming passage of my legislation, H.R. 382, the Pandemic is Over Act.

President Biden and I both agree: The COVID-19 pandemic is over. In fact, on the eve of the Pandemic is Over Act going on the House floor, President Biden finally announced he is going to end the COVID-19 emergency declarations. I’m glad that my bill finally forced President Biden to act.

However, President Biden has taken too long to act on his statement last September that the pandemic is over, which is why I am moving forward with my bill to end the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency and finally restore checks and balances between Congress and the Executive Branch.

There was a time and a place for the COVID-19 public health emergency. On this day three years ago, then-Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Azar first invoked the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency.

The COVID-19 PHE was used at the beginning of the pandemic to establish Operation Warp Speed and provide for CMS waivers that led to millions of seniors receiving critical health care services through mediums, such as telehealth, and removing various forms of red tape getting in the way of health care providers’ ability to care for their patients.

Now, exactly three years later to the day of the original PHE declaration, we are in a much better position to address COVID-19. We have proven therapeutics in addition to 95 percent of the population either being previously infected with COVID-19 or vaccinated. Even a senior administration official stated, “We’re in a pretty good place in the pandemic…cases are down dramatically from where they were the past two winters,” according to Politico reporting.

It’s long overdue for President Biden to unwind the public health emergency. Despite the overwhelming evidence that COVID-19 is now endemic and that the pandemic is over, Secretary Becerra just renewed the PHE for a 12th time.

The Pandemic is Over Act sends a loud and clear message to President Biden: the American people are tired of living in a perpetual state of emergency and it’s long overdue for Congress to take back the authorities granted under Article 1 of the Constitution. The Pandemic is Over Act would immediately terminate the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. Nothing in my bill ends Title 42 despite the Administration stating it would.

The Biden Administration, and Biden Administration alone, controls Title 42. That statute was written in 1944, before the authority of a public health emergency even existed. If the Biden administration chooses to end Title 42 when the PHE ends without working with us to secure the border, that’s just another one of his failures to add to the list.

To be clear, we support the ability to declare a Public Health Emergency to address clear and serious public health threats. Maintaining these regulatory flexibilities during a public health emergency are crucial, but these authorities should only be used for limited periods of time based upon the particular circumstances and prevalence or immediacy of the public health threat. Now, it’s time to rescind the president’s emergency powers, and Congress can address present and future needs that may arise with COVID-19.

Since President Biden took office, we have seen the pandemic used to justify the countless executive overreaches. The President has used the pandemic for one-size-fits-all vaccine mandates for health care workers, mask mandates, and eviction moratoriums.

While ending the COVID-19 public health emergency will not relinquish all the president’s power that has been used to make those decisions, it does make it more difficult to justify bypassing Congress to enact progressive policies.

Finally, I also want to address arguments about us unwinding the PHE too quickly. Democrats had unified control and could have extended or the administration could have done rulemaking to unwind the COVID-19 public health emergency. Congress already worked together on extending a number of provisions tied to the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Where are their bills that would extend or unwind these things? Where was the hearing on this last Congress if it was such an issue?

Mr. Speaker, the pandemic is over, and I urge my colleagues to support H.R. 382, the Pandemic is Over Act. Thank you, and I yield back.