The next economic relief package must “hold Communist China accountable,” Florida Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) said in a statement on Tuesday, outlining his top priorities for the next bill.
Scott said the single party state is “hiding information and lying about the Coronavirus that originated in its country” and that must be exposed.
One of the ways the U.S. can do that, Scott said, is by eliminating its role in the U.S. supply chain. He is advancing his American-Made Protection for Healthcare Workers and First Responders Act, which he said addresses current Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) shortages and builds the national stockpile of goods from U.S.-based producers “to eliminate our dependence on foreign adversaries’ supply chains during a crisis,” such as China.
“Federal agencies should be prohibited from entering into contracts with companies that have investments from entities headquartered or affiliated with Communist China,” Scott’s statement reads.
The U.S. can also hold China accountable by defunding the World Health Organization (W.H.O.), which he said assisted China in covering up information on the threat of the virus, which “cost thousands of lives around the world.”
“Under no circumstance should the U.S. taxpayers continue to fund an organization that puts its allegiance to Communist China above global health,” Scott’s statement reads. “Congress should zero out all future appropriations to the W.H.O.”
President Trump said during Monday’s White House Rose Garden press briefing “there are a lot of ways” to hold China accountable and added that the administration is conducting “serious investigations.”
“We are not happy with that whole situation, because we believe it could have been stopped at the source. It could have been stopped quickly, and it wouldn’t have spread all over the world,” Trump told Breitbart News senior White House correspondent Charlie Spiering during Monday’s briefing.
“And we think that should have happened. So we’ll let you know at the appropriate time, but we are doing serious investigations,” he added.White House
A group of conservative leaders this week paralleled Scott’s call, sending a letter and formal White House petition to the president, urging him to hold China’s feet to the fire:
We believe that the Chinese Communist Party is responsible for this pandemic. China is the most significant threat facing America today, and the American people across party lines believe that China should be treated as the pariah state that it is. As conservative leaders, we urge you to hold the Chinese Communist Party responsible by taking immediate actions to reduce our dependence on Chinese manufacturing of medical products, investigate the extent of China’s role in spreading the pandemic, and stop federal funding for universities with Confucius Institutes. As you take tough action against China to protect the American people, you will have our full support and the support of the American people.
Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Rep. Lance Gooden (R-TX) are also in on the efforts to hold China accountable, promoting the Stop China-Originated Viral Infectious Diseases Act, or Stop COVID Act, which they say will “hold China accountable for unleashing COVID-19 on our country” and “open up a set of legal tools that will enable the public to sue and seek compensation if they have suffered harm resulting from China’s role in spreading this virus.”
The administration’s “serious” investigation into China comes as Congress gears up to craft the next phase of economic relief. House Democrats have already signaled that their version will include party agenda items like universal mail-in voting. Scott, however, said the relief package must refrain from wasting taxpayer money, particularly on items unrelated to the crisis:
My focus has always been on helping those small businesses and individuals that are suffering because of the Coronavirus. If someone can show me additional ways to get help to them – great. But it is not government’s job to bail out the wealthy and big businesses. We also shouldn’t be giving money to states for anything other than expenses directly related to Coronavirus response. Our nation is $24 trillion in debt – the worst fiscal position we’ve ever been in. We have to be smart about how we’re spending our money and make sure it is truly going directly to the people in need.
Instead, the next phase of relief should focus on building upon the $2 trillion CARES Act and ensuring that Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans are going to small businesses that truly need it.
“Taxpayer money shouldn’t be going to businesses that haven’t been harmed by this crisis,” his statement reads.
Scott also stressed the importance of addressing the growing annual deficits and national debt.
“This year’s federal budget deficit will be the largest in the history of the nation, in excess of the cumulative deficits for the first 200 years of the country’s existence. The year will end with an excess of $25 trillion in federal debt,” his statement reads.
“Any Phase 4 agreement needs to take concrete steps to bring spending under control,” it adds.
Additionally, Scott is calling for screening at airports, requiring all passengers to go through “certain health screening measures” like temperature checks before entering the airport terminal.
“As Congress begins to discuss whether a Phase 4 is necessary, I urge my colleagues to consider priorities that focus on national security, fixing waste and continuing to protect public health,” Scott added.