Washington, DC – Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Leader Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) delivered remarks at an Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee hearing entitled, ““Pathway to Protection: Expanding Availability of COVID-19 Vaccines”
Excerpts and highlights from her remarks:
On Operation Warp Speed:
“Vaccines normally take more than 10 years to develop. Thanks to Operation Warp Speed, we have two safe and effective vaccines in less than one year, and more on the way.
“Operation Warp Speed is one of the greatest health achievements in history and it will help us win the future. It’s put us on a path to crush this virus, restore our way of life, and also provided a new model of innovation for future life-saving breakthroughs.
“President Biden entered the White House and inherited a vaccine program with 1 million Americans being vaccinated a day.
“President Trump set ambitious and bold goals. President Biden should too. That’s why E&C Republicans are pushing him for a plan to vaccinate 2 million people a day in his first 100 days.
On Ramping up Supply:
“To be certain, mass vaccinations—like our ongoing effort—are complex and difficult. Thanks to American ingenuity and grit, we continue to lead the world.
“Last week, the CDC said that 72.4 million doses have been delivered and more than 56.2 million of those have been administered. Pfizer projects it will supply 120 million doses to the U.S. by the end of March—20 million more than initially promised. Moderna expects 100 million doses two months earlier than expected.
“Based on current projections—by the end of July—we’ll have enough to vaccinate 300 million people, well more than the estimated 260 million currently eligible. And—we have more vaccines on the horizon.
“Johnson & Johnson submitted their Emergency Use Authorization for their one-dose vaccine, which is scheduled to be reviewed Friday. Authorizing this vaccine would significantly boost our supply.
“Earlier this month, we heard from 5 states who made clear supply limitations are the number one barrier to getting more shots in people’s arms.
“Hopefully, our projections for increased supply and new vaccines will resolve this.
On Distribution Problems in Washington State:
“To crush the virus, states also need to resolve self-inflicted problems. My home state is no exception. The Seattle Times revealed that the Washington Department of Health ignored basic logistics in their rollout plan.
“It was called ‘a bureaucratic nightmare.’
“Had Washington planned better, the most vulnerable could have been vaccinated much faster.
“I also recently learned of Governor Inslee’s unacceptable, unfair, and irresponsible intervention in Whitman County. After vaccinating all phase 1B tier 1 eligible people who wanted the vaccine, Whitman County was ready to vaccinate the next group: teachers.
“But Governor Inslee interfered. He threatened to withhold vaccines if they proceeded.
“One school superintendent called the Governor’s decision demoralizing. I agree. We should be doing everything we can to get our kids back in school. That means supporting counties that are delivering the vaccine with efficiency and speed.
On Crushing this Pandemic:
“I know this has been a very long year—full of fear of the unknown, the uncertainty, and more isolation. This week marks 500,000 lives lost.
“Social distancing, school closures, long hours and nights for people on the frontlines, the rise of suicides and overdoses— it all adds up and it’s taking a toll. People are tired. Many are in despair. I’m especially worried about the mental health of our children.
“So my message today is this. There is hope. Our vaccine supply is expected to increase. Distribution is becoming more efficient.
“We will get through this pandemic. It’s American innovation and ingenuity that’s going to end this crisis and give people hope, the ability to heal, and the courage to dream again.
“We will emerge stronger than ever before.”