Editor’s Note: The following comes from a press release House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-Louisiana) sent out yesterday afternoon. It’s the text of his prepared remarks at a meeting of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, of which he’s the ranking GOP member. Scalise called out Select Committee Democrats for attempting to use their hearing to sell President Biden and Speaker Pelosi’s trillion-dollar tax-and-spending spree and questioned why House Democrats have not held a single hearing on the origins of the COVID-19 and pointed out that Dr. Fauci may have lied to Congress about the United States’ support for gain-of-function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. In addition, Whip Scalise expressed concerns that the Biden White House was pressuring career FDA officials to recommend booster shots before the agency saw research showing that booster shots are necessary.
Mr. Chairman, my colleagues on the other side of the aisle plan to use this hearing as an opportunity to sell their misguided and reckless tax and spending bill.
But before we get into that, I want to direct everyone’s attention to what is happening with the coronavirus and the Biden Administration, which I thought was the entire purpose of the select subcommittee.
This virus has killed more than 672,000 Americans. The daily death count is 2,000 a day. Almost two years into this pandemic and things are still bad.
Yet, we still haven’t had a hearing about where the virus came from. The U.S. intelligence community has failed to reach a definitive conclusion about whether the coronavirus escaped from a lab in China or got into humans through an infected animal. We’re in no better of a position today than we were before to prevent the next pandemic.
There are serious questions that have been raised about whether the U.S. played a role in funding gain of function research at the very lab suspected of leaking the coronavirus. Leaked documents from a FOIA request show that the U.S. government gave $3.1 million to the health organization, EcoHealth Alliance, which funded coronavirus research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), and that almost $600,000 of that federal money was partially used by the Wuhan lab to find and alter bat coronaviruses that could jump to humans and infect them.
Another area ripe for oversight is the Biden Administration’s political interference with the science. Biden proclaimed he was going to: ‘Follow the science.’ But the Biden Administration has been caught letting teachers’ union bosses—NOT SCIENCE—dictate public health policy regarding mask mandates in schools.
And most recently, the Biden Administration prematurely announced that booster shots would be available this week, telling the American people that the vaccines have diminished efficacy over time. Then, two career officials involved in vaccine review at the FDA departed amid concerns that the Biden White House was pressuring them to recommend boosters before there was any scientific data to support that decision. Now, the FDA advisory committee says: No—boosters aren’t broadly necessary yet. Talk about mixed messaging.
Political interference at the FDA, which this certainly looks like, would be incredibly damaging to public confidence in the coronavirus vaccine and every other drug or treatment the FDA approves. That’s why Oversight Committee Ranking Member Comer and I sent a letter to FDA to investigate the potential interference with the science by the Biden White House. By the way, more than nine months into Biden’s presidency and he still has not nominated an FDA commissioner. We’re in a public health pandemic and there’s no one steering the ship at FDA. That’s a major failure on President Biden’s part and it’s truly unacceptable.
Just today, the New York Times extensively covered the lack of in-home testing options, the FDA’s slow pace in approving testing options—not to mention the slow pace of therapeutics approvals. Experts called the process for approvals ‘onerous’ and ‘inappropriate.’ As the New York Times said: ‘COVID isn’t disappearing anytime soon. So long as it continues to circulate and cause both serious illness and anxiety, rapid testing is arguably the only way society can return to something that resembles normal life.’
There’s a migrant crisis at the southern border. Thousands of people pouring into the country each day. We know that many are bringing COVID into our country, and the Biden Administration is more concerned with putting masks on our two-year-old children and imposing new travel restrictions on American citizens than checking the COVID status of the thousands of illegals coming across our southern border every single day.
Surely, these are topics worth looking into and yet here we are, examining ways to spend more money to further fuel inflation and indebt our children.
Today’s hearing will be used to try to sell the Democrats socialist dream of a bigger welfare state. They want to spend $3.5 trillion and raise taxes high enough to pay for it. While they tout what ‘free money’ can accomplish today, I want to tell the other side of the story.
“Businesses couldn’t find workers all summer long because the Democrats insisted on paying people more money to stay home and collect unemployment than to get back to work. Competing with Uncle Sam is something most businesses can’t do without raising prices. On top of that, reckless government spending is causing inflation. Prices are up at the gas pump and in the grocery store. They’re rising faster than wages and it’s the lower-income families that are feeling this pain the most.
Democrats’ multi-trillion-dollar tax increases will certainly affect low- and middle-income Americans. President Biden’s tax pledge will be broken many times over.
For example, the natural gas tax will disproportionately harm low-income American families. This unworkable and unfair tax will directly increase the cost of electricity, heating homes, hospitals and schools, buy groceries, and produce more than 6,000 products made from natural gas that we use every day. The American Gas Association estimates that this will raise Americans’ energy bills up to $242 a year. The cost to the broader economy will be equally devastating costing billions of dollars in lost GDP, and tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of jobs, lost.
On top of harmful tax increases, the Democrats want to pay for a chunk of their spending by imposing price controls used in socialist countries on drugs for seniors. They want to do this despite the evidence that this will remove incentives for pharmaceutical innovation and crush spending on research and development. Experts estimate it will lead to as many as 342 fewer new drug approvals by 2039. Patients hoping for cures and medical breakthroughs can’t afford this bill.
For my Democrat friends, there’s no problem that can’t be solved by throwing taxpayer money at it. But of course, Socialism is expensive, and everyone will have to pay one way or another.
I’d like to remind everyone that before the coronavirus upended our lives, our economy was flourishing under the Republican Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. A tax code built for growth gave us an economy that benefited everyone.
Under TCJA, the unemployment rate reached a generational low, with record low unemployment for women, people of color, and workers without high school degrees. The economy gained nearly 5 million jobs before the pandemic. Businesses started to reinvest again, making businesses and workers more productive, while boosting workers’ wages.
Workers’ net worth soared. Low and middle class families saw the largest gains in wealth growth in 2018 and 2019, according to the Federal Reserve. Low-income families saw their net worth increase 37 percent. Middle class families saw their net worth increase 40 percent.
This is the type of success American families want. I believe they’d much prefer a good job than to depend on a government check. If we enact the right policies and get the government out of the way, people will prosper.
I yield back the balance of my time. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.