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Washington D.C. – Congressman Michael McCaul (R-TX), Lead Republican of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, released the following statement following the House Foreign Affairs Asia, the Pacific, and Nonproliferation Subcommittee hearing on the coronavirus. 

“The 2019 Novel Coronavirus now has over 80,000 cases worldwide and has killed close to 3,000 people, mostly in China where the disease originated. China’s initial response to this virus was completely unsatisfactory – initially silencing the doctors who warned about the virus and taking weeks before allowing an international WHO team to enter the country to determine the epidemiological origins.  A virus knows no borders, and it is in the best interest of all nations – particularly China – to work together before this becomes a true worldwide pandemic. This past week, cases outside of China rapidly increased, with South Korea, Italy, and Iran reporting large numbers of cases.

“After the events of this past week, it is becoming clear that this disease is spreading across continents to a point where governments are struggling to contain it. While the U.S. has been so far blessed to have relatively few cases, this past week, a CDC official said it will be a matter of “when,” and not “if” coronavirus spreads in our communities. Clearly, at this point, hoping the virus will just “go away” will not happen. Prudent public health measures and good science will be our solution to this virus.

“On that note, I am pleased that President Trump briefed the nation on his Administration’s response last night and that he named Vice President Mike Pence to lead the government’s efforts to combat the virus.

“The $2.5 billion funding request is a good start, and as President Trump acknowledged last night, we have to spend whatever dollar amount is appropriate, as safety is our number one priority. I know my colleagues on the Committee and in Congress will have a fruitful debate about the appropriate funding amount. However, what is clear is that we must move quickly. Further, I believe that we should ensure the funding does not take away from existing Ebola accounts, as it is critical that we forcefully combat the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo during this important period where vaccinations are being deployed.

“Coronavirus does not discriminate by party and we cannot play politics. I look forward to my colleagues and I being able to ensure that the U.S. is  preparing to respond to the virus and developing a vaccine so we can best protect the American people.”