ICYMI -- Chairman Clyburn on MSNBC: “Why this president refuses to have a national strategy is beyond me.”

Jul 31, 2020
Press Release

Washington, D.C. (July 31, 2020) — Today, Rep. James E. Clyburn, Chairman of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, joined MSNBC Live to discuss the urgent need for a national plan to contain the coronavirus and the Select Subcommittee’s hearing with National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield, and Assistant Secretary for Health at the Department of Health and Human Services Admiral Brett Giroir.

 

Watch his remarks here:

 

 

Transcript of Chairman Clyburn’s interview on MSNBC Live:

 

Chuck Todd:  I guess the good news is the president was watching.  He did not like you pointing out that horrific chart -- and it is a horrific chart when you compare the United States to the EU -- in particular since we're basically same size and yes, we have 50 states.  They have individual countries and they seem to be able to come up with a coordinated strategy.  Do we have a national strategy, sir?

 

Chairman Clyburn:  Well thank you so much for having me, Chuck.  No, we don’t and that’s our big problem.  Why this president refuses to have a national strategy is beyond me. From the very beginning, he said he was going to leave it up to the states, he was not going to take responsibility.  That’s not the way you combat a pandemic. This is a worldwide pandemic.  This is a problem for every country in the world and for this president to say we will leave it up to 50 different approaches, let each state fend for themselves, let states have competition with each other, that's not the way to keep our country unified.  I would hope that this president will pay attention not just to what I said but pay attention to those three experts sitting there in front of us. I don't have a single word of departure from anything they had to say today.

 

Chuck Todd:  That's what I was wondering here, I'm curious.  You have three people who are on the task force.  Do you look at those three folks and think, do you believe they're not being allowed to coordinate a strategy?  Do you think they're being held back?  Are they just implementing what -- what are they implementing if we're not implementing a national strategy?

 

Chairman Clyburn:  Well, you know, it’s kind of interesting because what we have found is that this White House is dealing with two sets of approaches.  They are dealing with something that they enunciate publicly at a press conference or what the president may say, but they have sent out privately some guidelines for states to follow.

 

And, what we’re having here -- and I sent a letter out to four of those states that decided rather than follow the private information they've got from the White House they are following what the president is saying at his press conferences, and that's why we sent them this letter.

 

So, I do believe that they've had it.  In fact, Vanity Fair just revealed that they came up with a national strategy back in March, but they decided not to allow it to go forward because, at the time, they saw all the virus hanging out in New York, New Jersey and other so-called “blue states.”  So, rather than implement a national strategy, they decided to pull back from that and put out this competition among the states so that they could maintain some political advantage. That's the problem here.  They're not following the science.  They’re not listening to the experts. They are pursuing a political agenda and that is tantamount to Nero fiddling while Rome burns.

 

Chuck Todd:  Congressman, at this point is it fair to say that we're basically surrendered in our ability to control the virus and we just have to wait for a vaccine?  Is that the new strategy, just hope the vaccine comes sooner than we think?

 

Chairman Clyburn:  Well, the president seems to think he's waiting for it to just go away.  The fact of the matter is, when you're dealing -- even when we get to a vaccine, no one knows when that's going to be.  We hear all this stuff that what may be going in other countries, they're talking about China and everybody else coming up with a vaccine, but as Dr. Fauci said today, we don't know what they're doing.  We hope they're testing this thing correctly before they put it out on the market.  I have complete faith and confidence in our health care system.

 

I do believe we’re going to come up with a vaccine, but we need to do with this vaccine what we're asking people to do with school openings: do it in a safe and a scientific way.  So, I think we'll get a vaccine, but I don't think we ought to wait on a vaccine in order to have 90%, 95% participation when it comes to social distancing, to wearing masks and other face coverings, to doing what experts say we need to do, what they did in these other countries at the European Union and drive down the numbers.  The numbers aren’t being driven down here simply because we aren't getting leadership.  We need leadership, and we're not getting leadership.

 

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116th Congress