WASHINGTON, D. C. - Congressman Andy Barr (KY-06) today released the following statement after voting for the Families First Coronavirus Response Act:
"As we confront the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, I am dedicated to doing what is right to ensure the health and safety of the American people, particularly those I represent in Kentucky's Sixth Congressional District. Last night, I voted to support the President's promise to provide free testing and targeted paid sick leave for those affected by this disease. However, this legislation fell short of providing necessary relief to communities across our nation.
"I remain concerned about provisions of the legislation that could cripple our economy and leave it in a state from which it would be difficult to recover. We need to be providing relief to small employers so they can continue their operations and ensure their employees will have a job to return to. For these reasons, I accepted Minority Whip Steve Scalise's invitation to join a Taskforce to work with Treasury Secretary Mnuchin to give small businesses as much assistance as possible including hardship exemptions to limit harm to the economy resulting from the anticipated worker shortage.
"I am also working with my colleagues on the House Financial Services Committee, in consultation with federal financial regulators, including the U.S. Department of Treasury and the Federal Reserve Board, to monitor financial stability and resiliency during this crisis, and we are urging Congressional leadership to move swiftly on a fiscal stimulus package to supplement the monetary support provided by the Fed. We can and we must do more.
"This pandemic is constantly changing and I remain vigilant to the needs of my constituents. Among other actions, I voted in favor of providing $8.3 billion in emergency funding to empower our federal agencies, state governments and communities nationwide to combat the COVID-19 virus. I continue to attend regular briefings on Coronavirus developments with Administration officials leading the response including Seema Verma, Administrator, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Dr. Steve Redd, Senior Advisor for COVID-19 Response, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health (NIH), Dr. Stephen Hahn, Commissioner, FDA, and Robert Kadlec, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
"I am regularly communicating with hospital administrators, doctors and health care providers in central Kentucky, and with state and local officials in Kentucky, including Public Health Commissioner, Dr. Steven Stack, Mayor Linda Gorton and others, to support their response efforts and ensure that they have access to federal resources and assistance.
"As an example, this week I coordinated a request to the HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response to give Kentucky access to the Strategic National Stockpile, the nation's largest supply of potentially life-saving pharmaceuticals and medical supplies, including masks and personal protective equipment, for use in a public health emergency. I also communicated with the Vice President's office and the FDA on behalf of Lexington epidemiologists about a potentially promising diagnostic test for COVID-19 with a more rapid turnaround than even the Roche test approved last week. And I hosted a telephone townhall meeting with Dr. Charles Kennedy, an epidemiologist at St. Joseph Hospital, to update thousands of my constituents on the federal response to the Coronavirus.
"The United States has the best and brightest healthcare providers, researchers, and innovators working at unprecedented rates to treat patients, create faster diagnostic tests and develop anti-viral therapeutics and ultimately a vaccine. We will prevail and will be strengthened by our efforts to overcome this challenge."