Chair Rodgers Touts Bill to End COVID-19 Public Health Emergency
Washington. D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) delivered the following remarks on the House Floor today in support of H.R. 382, the Pandemic is Over Act:
"I appreciate the Gentleman's leadership on the Health Subcommittee as well as for bringing forward this legislation today. I think it's very important legislation—H.R. 382, the Pandemic is Over Act.
“Just to recap: Three years ago today, HHS Secretary Alex Azar declared a Public Health
Emergency for the emerging threat that was the novel coronavirus. The U.S. had just identified its first official case just over a week prior.
“Within one year of the anniversary of the PHE, thanks to early leadership from President Trump and Operation Warp Speed, an authorized vaccine helped prevent thousands of hospitalizations and deaths.
“Three years later, it is estimated that 95 percent of those over 16 have been vaccinated or had COVID-19.
“Earlier in January—President Biden extended the Public Health Emergency for the twelfth time—continuing to use the pandemic and national and public health emergency authorities to achieve progressive policy goals.
“This includes pushing for indefinite extensions on the moratorium on evictions, the suspension of student loan interest payments, and attempts to require masking in public transit.
“So last week, House Republicans announced we would bring this bill—along with Rep. Paul Gosar’s bill to end the COVID-19 national emergency—to the floor today.
“And now, just yesterday, the Biden administration decided to announce their plans to end the Public Health Emergency on May 11, 2023, which CNN has reported only came after House Democrats were worried about voting against this bill without a White House plan in place.
“Whatever the reason or rationale for their announcement—I am pleased that the administration is following House Republicans lead to finally abiding by President Biden’s own acknowledgment 4 months ago that the ‘pandemic is over.’
“But it shouldn’t take another three months to unwind this authoritarian control.
“It’s long past time for the Biden administration to stop relying on an emergency that no longer exists to make unilateral decisions.
“I urge my fellow Democratic colleagues to join with their Democratic administration and House Republicans in voting 'YES' on H.R. 382, declare the COVID-19 pandemic over, give Americans their lives back, and work to develop policies so we are better prepared moving forward.
“The Senate voted in a bipartisan way to end the National Emergency, and I hope ending this bill also will gain bipartisan support as well.”