Washington, DC – Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Leader Greg Walden (R-OR) joined the Hugh Hewitt Show to discuss Congress’ efforts to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. You can click HERE or on the image below listen to the full interview and see a few highlights below.
“Hey, they’re no friend of ours… This is obvious to anyone that’s been paying attention. Fortunately, President Trump has been paying attention, and a bunch of us have been as well. Especially when it comes to supply chain vulnerability. You know, you think about what happened after the ’08 meltdown. We had a company emerge out of China – obviously state-sponsored – called Huawei. It now infects our communications networks. That’s why we passed legislation to get it ripped out. We need to fund that. The President signed the bill a month or so ago now. That ought to be done so we can get rid of the vulnerability in our networks. Look at the vulnerability in our drug supply chain or PPE, masks, gowns. We are crippled as an economy because we don’t have enough masks – are you kidding me? I mean, there’s a lot we have to do here to get us on better footing.”
“We should. The first place I’d start is we pay about 50 percent of the public health budgets for states so that they’re ready in case of a big public health crisis. That’s what we’re in. I think part of the conditioning needs to look at how are states not better prepared to deal with this. We’re looking at what we didn’t get right, right? So we don’t repeat that. But the other piece of this is, look, that’s what the money to states was for: was to be ready with a public health system that can respond in a situation like this. In California most of their N95 masks were out of date because the elastic was probably beyond useful time in their stockpile. We’ve got stockpile reform issues we’re going to implement nationally so that doesn’t happen and modernize our national stockpile. But then I look at private sector – they’re cutting jobs; they’re laying off, furloughing; they’re taking pay cuts at the top, all across the map. States are going to have to think about, can they afford to do everything they’ve been doing. I was in business 20 years Hugh, the radio business with my wife. When times were tough, you sucked it up; you made tough decisions; you just had to scale back. I don’t see the states doing that yet. They’re trying to deal with this pandemic. I’ll tell you what, it’s not like we’re sitting on a freezer, sub-zero Nancy Pelosi freezer full of cash back here. Printing presses are smoking, they’re running so fast. That’s going to be on the next generation, so I don’t want the states to look at us a piggy bank with a never-ending balance.”
“In the CARES Act, in section 3215, there are liability protections and preemptions dealing with people who are basically first responders – health care providers in this situation… If you’re doing the right things, then you ought to have a protection here. Look, again, having been a small business owner for 20 years, you want to take care of your people. You want to do the right thing. Nearly all of us do. If you give me the guidelines, I’ll follow the guidelines. Most employers I know would do the same and are arguing the same.”
“I think we have to. There are moments in history, and this is one of them, when you have to stand back and go, okay, what have we gotten right and what have we gotten wrong over a period of time. What do we need to change, and let’s go change it. I think that involves supply chain. We’re having this big war with China over who’s going to develop the technology for autonomous vehicles. Guess who’s standing in the way of that? The trial bar. We passed [autonomous vehicle legislation] unanimously when I was chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Republican and Democrats, across the committee, in the House, sent it to the Senate, trial bar upends it. We’re stalled ever since. We have to figure out how to produce things here. We talk about China gobbling up rare earth metals and everything else around the globe, look at what they’re doing in Africa, what they’re trying to do elsewhere. They have a plan. They are focused. They have never relented from that 100-year plan. We have to get smart. Then you go online and see their agents are the ones behind the fake tests and scams. They’re trying to affect our public opinion seize the world’s greatest assets, our natural resources. In the West, it’s almost impossible to do mining. Look at how our resources have been locked up, tied up, shut down. And now we’re dependent on somebody else. We’ve gotten so dependent we can’t even get the N95 masks. Now we’re waking up and saying we have to change how we operate. How did we get to this point?”