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Washington D.C. – Congressman Michael McCaul (R-TX), Republican Leader on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, participated in a virtual special order to highlight the importance of U.S. global leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic. His full remarks are below. 

“Mr. Speaker, while we must continue to focus on flattening the curve and supporting struggling Americans here at home, we must also help combat the spread of COVID-19 abroad. The pandemic is just beginning in many developing countries in the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America. It is not hard to imagine a worst-case scenario as COVID-19 ravages these fragile nations, particularly in areas already plagued by conflict and extremism. The destabilizing impact that the virus will have on economies, government institutions, and communities is deeply concerning.

“This is a global pandemic, and the work that we do overseas makes us safer here at home, too, as this virus continue to spread. Since the outbreak began, the U.S. has provided $775 million to over 100 countries around the world to combat the spread of COVID-19. This commitment builds on over two decades of sustained U.S. leadership and investment to strengthen health systems and respond to infectious disease outbreaks. In addition, according to the State Department, the American people, NGOs, faith groups, and the private sector have also stepped up to provide an estimated $3 billion in donations and assistance to save lives around the world.

“However, we must ensure that these vital resources are used as effectively and efficiently as possible. Unfortunately, the Chinese Communist Party continues to cover up their culpability – withholding test samples, lying about mortality rates, and suppressing doctors and journalists from covering the facts—and ultimately undermining the global response. I support the Trump administration’s efforts to insist on transparency and accountability. This includes accountability at the World Health Organization, which failed to immediately and effectively respond to this global pandemic. We cannot allow taxpayer resources to go toward organizations that were complicit in this cover up until there is accountability.

“Our assistance must not only consider the short-term needs of vulnerable populations and our partners overseas, but also longer-term recovery efforts to generate economic growth and opportunity. In this unpredictable time, authoritarian regimes, terrorist groups, and hostile nation states will try to take advantage of the chaos for strategic gains. The Chinese Communist Party, acting as both the arsonist and the firefighter, is leveraging this pandemic to project their power and influence through economic dependencies created by their Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). As African nations cry out for much-needed debt relief from China’s predatory BRI lending, reports are already emerging that China is seeking to condition relief on the handover of strategic assets, such as copper mining assets in Zambia.

“We must consider the follow-on shocks of COVID-19—on nascent democracies, counterterrorism operations, refugee camps, vaccination campaigns, education systems, food security, and nutrition interventions—as existing humanitarian crises, security threats, and development challenges are compounded and exacerbated. The U.S. must be strategic in our investments and adapt and prioritize our assistance to prevent further destabilization and conflict in the wake of COVID-19. Otherwise, the cost, in both lives and foreign assistance dollars will be exponential in the long run.

“I applaud Representative Yoho and Representative Bera for organizing this special order and for working across the aisle to address this crucial issue. I would also like to thank the frontline healthcare workers, both in my district and around the world, for their lifesaving work.  Finally, I would like to thank the NGO community and the US Global Leadership Coalition for their leadership and advocacy.”