October 20, 2020
Here’s today’s update on COVID-19 and the state of play on negotiations for additional relief for families and small businesses in Washington.
Operation Warp Speed is continuing to follow science to develop a safe, effective vaccine that can be rapidly delivered to millions of Americans as soon as our public health experts give it the green light. At this point, two vaccine candidates – those developed by AstraZeneca and Jannssen – have put Phase Three clinical trials on hold while the FDA reviews their progress. This should actually be encouraging: it shows that despite what the anti-science alarmists claim, the FDA is following the science and thoroughly reviewing each vaccine candidate to ensure it is safe.
With the best and brightest minds in the world working around the clock on Operation Warp Speed, we’ll be able to approve and deliver a vaccine in record time.
Meanwhile, in other news out of Washington negotiations are ongoing between the White House and Speaker Pelosi on a Coronavirus relief deal.
It’s clear that more relief is going to be needed for our economy and our families. The first and easiest thing we can do is extend the Paycheck Protection Program, which expired in August but still has $138 billion sitting unused that Congress appropriated earlier this year. Around North Carolina and across the country, restaurants, theaters, and other small employers that were kept afloat by the PPP are beginning to shut down. Re-opening the PPP for a second round of assistance is the simplest way to help these businesses stay open.
But progressives in both the House and the Senate continue to say they will block a PPP extension in hopes for a big package that includes a massive bailout for blue states that, in many cases, have been mismanaged for decades. If a deal is struck, we will see first-hand exactly how much spending the White House will agree to for these states.
In the Senate, Majority Leader McConnell has indicated he will try once again this week to pass a PPP extension, as well as additional funding for schools and health care. In the House, the vast majority of my Republican colleagues and I have signed a discharge petition, which would force Speaker Pelosi to bring a PPP extension to the House floor for a vote.
On the Medicare front, Open Enrollment is officially open and will run through December 7, 2020. People with Medicare can review health and drug plans and make changes to their healthcare coverage for next year based on their financial and medical needs.
Stay tuned for more updates in the days ahead.