Home Coronavirus Video: Sen. Mark Warner on Need for “Exponentially More Testing,” “Direct Government...

Video: Sen. Mark Warner on Need for “Exponentially More Testing,” “Direct Government Support to Payrolls,” State/Local Assistance, Oversight of Trillions in Federal COVID-19 Aid

McConnell should stop "trying to stack the courts with the president's judicial appointees" and "stay focused on COVID"

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See below for video (see below) and highlights of Sen. Mark Warner’s discussion, earlier today, with Virginia media. According to Sen. Warner:

  • “I think we’re still at this moment of enormous economic stress…being caused by the virus,” and there’s trillions of dollars in federal aid, but a lot of people are still asking, “where is my money, where are my checks?
  • PPP is well-intentioned, but too many stories of public companies receiving funds or businesses that have not seen revenue loss receiving funds.
  • Bitterly disappointed” with administration’s failure to have a coordinated approach on PPE. Hospitals competing against hospitals, states compting against states…wuldn’t be the case if we had an effective national response.
  • We need “testing, testing, testing…exponentially more testing…the president and the White House need to use the…Defense Production Act…This should not be given to the president’s son-in-law, where he brings in a bunch of friends and cronies…when people’s lives are at stake.” We need a master database on testing – working with Johns Hopkins on this.
  • He’s put forward a proposal called the Paycheck Security Act that’s been embraced by folks from left to right (e.g., Bernie Sanders, Doug Jones…there’s a similar Republican proposal). We should look at what’s working around the world, such as the European approach of direct government support to payrolls...in Europe, they’ve seen only a slight uptick in unemployment, not like the massive increase we’re seeing here.
  • On funding to HBCUs, Sen. Warner says he supports additional designated funding…They have been disproportionately discriminated against, most don’t have large endowments; “I am very supportive” of support for HBCUs.
  • On Virginia being behind in testing, Sen. Warner says the numbers have jumped dramatically and we’re going to need more, maybe even more than 10,000 per day to give people “the full comfort to reenter the economy.” As far as reopening, people are getting “a little bit stir crazy,” question is whether social distancing, wearing masks, etc. “keeps the virus flat or declining.” Confident in Gov. Northam – the only governor in the country who’s a doctor. The worst thing for Virginia to do would be a rush back to reopen unsafely, then have a spike in coronavirus cases. It’s a very delicate balance. Gov. Northam has “set the right tone” saying he’s going to do this based on the data/science. It’s too early to say we’re post-healthcare-crisis…
  • It was “remarkable” that the first few federal aid bills passed by “virtually unanimous consent.” He’s very worried about state and local funding…”I frankly the resent the president or…the majority leader…that says that this is just some effort to bail out poorly managed states; Virginia has been extraordinarly well managed under both Democratic and Republican governors…and to kind of malign states as irresponsible is frankly irresponsible by the people making those comments.” “The resentment and pushback…if you see your local government starting to lay off your fire department, your police department, your EMT…I think it is grossly irresponsible to not provide assistance to state and local governments….In the House, I hope they will work to a bipartisan bill…I’m actually hopefully the House can find some agreement…time to check our partisan hats and put the country first.”
  • “This virus has once again shown the disparities in our economy. Clearly, we’ve seen African-Americans and Latino communities hurt disproportionately more. They are often times those front-line workers…the governor has laid out a thoughtful aproach…but this cannot be done simply on a statewide basis…huge failure of this White House not to use the tools that were put in place…testing…has to be organized at the federal level.”
  • Makes no sense to prevent states and localities from using federal funding to replace lost revenues – “that was an absurd restriction put in place.”
  • Making some adjustments to liability is a fair discussion to have, but not putting on an “absolute prohibition, so that if a business is completely negligent in terms of protection of the workforce, that to me is a non-starter.”
  • Virginia is a “huge state” and Sen. Warner hopes Gov. Northam will consider looking at reopening on a regional basis.
  • On Sec. Esper’s comments that the military is doing a fine job dealing with COVID-19, Sen. Warner says he respectfully disagrees – “I think both the failure to get adequate testing fast enough to the Teddy Roosevelt…the dismissal of the captain…I do hope he gets reinstated…the military, like the rest of our country, has been hit by this…but anyone that claims roaring success, and that seems to be the message that comes from the White House, seems to me disconnected from the reality that our fellow Americans and fellow Virginians are living.”
  • Majority Leader McConnell needs to focus on what the next relief package should look like, as well as “oversight on what will be the largest and fastest amount of federal spending in our whole country’s history…that much money is going to create some level of mischief…let’s focus on overseeing responsibly that taxpayer money rather than simply trying to stack the courts with the president’s judicial appointees…let’s stay focused on COVID.”