Dear Democratic Colleague,
Seventy-nine years ago [today], a brutal attack took place on our soil – at Pearl Harbor – that stole more than 2,400 lives and thrust our country into war against fascism and tyranny. In total, nearly 300,000 Americans would lose their lives in combat in World War II.
Today, our country is under a different but deadly assault – this time, from the coronavirus. Tragically, now, our country is on a path to exceed the number of American deaths recorded during World War II.
As in the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor, our nation must respond to the challenge of the virus with unity and with resolve. We must come together behind the new President-elect and with initiatives of science to defeat this assault on the lives and livelihoods of the American people.
Throughout the pandemic, Congressional Democrats have followed the science in our legislative response – starting with our first bill on March 4, which focused on testing, testing, testing. Each bill that we have passed since, including the CARES Act passed March 27, legislation to deliver PPP passed April 23, and our two Heroes Act bills passed May 15 and October 1, have addressed the needs of struggling workers and families in an evidence-based way. Sadly, the Trump Administration and Republicans in Congress had refused to accept the science and take the action needed to crush the virus.
Now, there is a different dynamic – a dynamic of hope – with President-elect Biden and a vaccine within reach in weeks or months. And the date of December 26 is coming right at us with the expiration of critical CARES Act provisions.
The approach that we take now has to be one to see us through to the Biden Administration – ensuring that we significantly fund distribution efforts to get us from vaccine to vaccination and that the vaccine is free and available to all. We must also meet the needs of the American people, whether food assistance, rental assistance, unemployment support or other life-saving steps.
Our expectation is that a bipartisan coronavirus relief proposal will be included in the omnibus legislation. Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey is negotiating the omnibus and I am pleased to report that we are making progress.
During this challenging time, Americans can take hope in the outstanding health care team assembled by President-elect Biden. Each brings great understanding, experience and expertise to the fight to crush the coronavirus. We are especially proud that California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, our former colleague, has been named the President-elect’s nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services. It is my hope that the news of a potential vaccine and President-elect Biden’s plan for defeating the virus will encourage everyone in our country to follow the science, wear masks, keep social distance and take other evidence-based steps to control the virus.
Today, let us remember those lost at Pearl Harbor by renewing the same spirit of national unity and compassion demonstrated by the American people seventy-nine years ago. Let us take inspiration from the courage of all who served in our Armed Forces, as we rededicate ourselves to our veterans and their families now. And let us strive to build a better America for all, as we defeat the virus and come out stronger than before.