NH Now: Maggie Hassan 5-15-20

Senator Hassan on Senate Leader McConnell’s Lack of Interest for More Stimulus Spending: “I Will Continue to Push for More Urgent Action and More Focus by the U.S. Senate on This Pandemic.”

In an interview with WKXL’s Chris Ryan, Senator Maggie Hassan discusses the need for a national public health strategy to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, and she analyzes the $3 trillion proposed stimulus plan put forward by the House of Representatives.

Senator Hassan reacted to testimony by a whistle blower, Dr. Rick Bright, the ousted director of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA). Dr. Bright testified that the Trump administration has no master plan to produce and distribute a COVID-19 vaccine. The Senator is concerned that recent testimony by Dr. Fauci bears out there is still a need for a coordinated plan for testing and contact tracing and for the development and distribution of a vaccine. She is concerned that there is not enough testing available to determine if there is community spread, identify people with the virus, quarantine that individual and the people that the individual may have infected.

As the economy slowly reopens, the Senator is concerned that there might be another surge in COVID-19 cases. She wants national, state, and local public health officials to work together and do a careful analysis of the data and then tailor their responses accordingly.

The last portion of the interview dealt with the House Plan for a $3 trillion package to deal with the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Senator Hassan agrees with the recommendation of the Federal Reserve Chairman Powell who feels that immediate spending is needed to prevent permanent damage to the economy. The Senator sees a need for more federal spending. In particular, she wants to assist small businesses which need cash and liquidity. When asked about Senator Shaheen’s call for taking time to analyze the effectiveness of the previous $2 trillion stimulus package—the CARES Act–Coronavirus Aid, Recovery, and Economic Security Act, Senator Hassan recognizes the need for oversight and analysis of the previous spending. However, she is very concerned with the need for additional investments to stem the effects of the economic downturn. Senator Hassan is frustrated that Senate Majority Leader McConnell, who controls the schedule and agenda of the Senate, doesn’t have any sense of urgency in dealing with the health or economic impact of the pandemic. She calls for majority Leader McConnell to free them up from deliberating on other matters and to focus on discussing legislation which will deal with the Coronavirus.