Schumer Floor Remarks On President Trump’s Refusal To Reckon With The Facts Of The Coronavirus Pandemic As States Face New Outbreaks And The Failure Of The Administration To Spend $14 Billion On Contact Tracing And COVID Testing

June 22, 2020

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today spoke on the Senate floor regarding President Trump’s remarks that he told his administration he wants to “slow the testing down,” and the administration’s failure to use the $14 billion in congressionally-appropriated funding for contact tracing and coronavirus testing. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

Over the past several weeks, there has been an alarming increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in a number of American states. Florida, Texas, Arizona, and North Carolina continue to report thousands of new cases each day. State officials in Texas and Arizona are warning about the dire number of hospitalizations.

Anyone looking at the facts would conclude that we need to figure out what’s causing these increases and put measures in place to limit this new spread of the disease.

But President Trump does not look at the facts or try to understand them. Instead, the president is so consumed with his own ego, his own political interests and the perception of how he’s handled this crisis that he’s downplaying the numbers and inventing ridiculous excuses for why COVID-19 cases continue to increase.

At his inadvisable and very poorly-attended rally in Tulsa on Saturday, President Trump said that he told his administration to “slow the testing down, please” so the number of COVID cases wouldn’t look so bad for him. Amazing. He said that. Don't learn the truth about a serious and deadly disease, so he might look better? He went on to say that testing was “a double-edged sword.”

Let me break the President’s statement down for a moment. By calling testing a “double-edged sword,” the president means that on one hand, testing could be good because it, you know, tells us who has COVID-19.

But on the other hand, testing might not be so good because more cases makes the president look bad. Who thinks like that in the time of a raging pandemic?

White House officials tried to claim the president was joking but today, the Vice President denied that they were in jest, calling them a “passing observation.” Whatever that means.

Regardless of whether he was serious or not, the president’s comments are factually inaccurate. The increase in testing is not responsible for the increase in the number of cases, in fact, the rate of positive cases is going up in many states, which means community spread.

There is a lie sitting at the heart of all of this: President Trump wants Americans to believe that the number of cases is going up because his administration has done such a great job on testing.

The truth is, the administration can’t even get around to spending the money Congress has provided to improve testing and tracing. Senators Murray and I sent a letter to HHS Secretary Azar last week asking him why the administration hasn’t disbursed the $14 billion we gave it to ramp up testing and tracing capability. $14 billion is just sitting there waiting for the Trump administration to use to help our country.

Senator Murray and I are looking for answers. Why isn’t the money distributed when it’s desperately needed? What the heck is going on?

It's hard to imagine a more haphazard, less focused, less consistent response from an administration during a national crisis.

Whether it’s calling COVID a “hoax,” or prescribing bleach, or his ego-driven rally over the weekend, this president keeps reminding us that he doesn’t take the COVID pandemic seriously enough.

Ironically, the best thing about the president’s rally was that so few people attended. Otherwise, the risks of spreading COVID would have been significantly higher.