October 5, 2020 In the News

Shaheen urges more action toward combating COVID-19

Manchester Ink Link
By Andrew Sylvia
October 5, 2020

MANCHESTER, N.H. – As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to drag on, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) came to Amokseag Health on Monday to urge greater federal action in combating the pandemic.

Shaheen began her remarks by giving well wishes to President Trump, who was diagnosed with COVID-19 last week, hoping that diagnosis will push Washington into more action toward combatting the virus.

“It’s a wakeup call for the country and I hope it is going to be a wakeup call for Congress,” she said. “At every level of government, there needs to be a recognition that we’re not going to get through this crisis, we’re not going to get our economy back to normal, until we have defeated the coronavirus.”

Recently, Shaheen has seen what she describes as a lack of urgency regarding the pandemic from Republicans, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) stalling negotiation on new large-scale legislation comparable to the CARES Act that would help those still impacted by the pandemic, with Democrats believing more is needed than McConnell’s ceiling of approximately $1 trillion.

She said that if additional help does not come soon, numerous childcare centers across New Hampshire may have to shut their doors soon, with other economic peril felt by municipalities, hospitals and New Hampshire residents unable to work due to the pandemic.

“I think we need to help people get through the worst of this virus by giving them the help they need,” said Shaheen. “Because if we don’t, we’re not going to get our economy back. Because that’s not coming back until people are comfortable we’ve gotten ahead of this coronavirus.”

Shaheen also criticized Trump for the lack of a national plan to combat the virus, his limited use of the National Defense Production Act and his recent Rose Garden event for Supreme Court Nominee Amy Coney Barrett that led to multiple COVID-19 infections.

Additionally, Shaheen also feared that COVID-19 could become a pre-existing condition if the Affordable Care Act is repealed. She noted that could become a reality if Barrett was confirmed, with Shaheen noting the contrast in speed between that potential confirmation and support for those impacted by COVID-19.

Shaheen ultimately felt the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee shouldn’t meet at all on the Supreme Court nomination until after the election, and further chastised McConnell for not allowing virtual voting and for an indifference toward safety on the Judiciary Committee, with slight praise for McConnell’s decision to delay a return to Washington until Oct. 18.

Currently, the Judiciary Committee has two oldest Senators (Democrat Dianne Feinstein of California and Republican Chuck Grassley of Iowa) and two senators currently infected with COVID-19.  (Republicans Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Mike Lee of Utah)

“I certainly have concerns traveling back and forth, and I know my colleagues do,” she said. “It’s a reminder of the fact that people need to be careful and take this seriously and follow the guidelines.”

Shaheen’s opponent, Republican nominee Corky Messner, has suggested in recent weeks that Democrats accept the McConnell’s proposal or parts of it as a “bridge loan” with additional funding coming as needed. Messner senior campaign advisor Mike Biundo called Shaheen’s protestations toward COVID relief negotiations as purely political.

“U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen criticizes the President and Senate Majority Leader McConnell for the lack of a COVID aid bill, yet she voted against the last proposal put before the Senate,” he said. “Why didn’t she vote to pass that $500B package to at least get some funding to folks who need it quickly, instead of playing politics and ending up with nothing?”