House Speaker Kevin McCarthy plans to focus the floor debate next week on COVID recovery, beginning with a joint resolution to terminate the national emergency that has been in effect for nearly three years.
With even President Biden declaring last year that “The pandemic is over,” it’s time to make it official.
We are in a very different place now in understanding how to focus protections. The Centers for Disease Control acknowledges we are past the emergency, with an estimated 95% of the American population having acquired antibodies from vaccination or previous infection.
Nonetheless, vast federal powers and untold billions of federal dollars still are flowing because the national emergency declaration is still in place. Ditto for the Public Health Emergency, which H.R. 382 — the ‘‘Pandemic is Over Act”– would terminate. It’s time to close the spigot and focus on reviving the economy.
The House expects votes on two more bills to speed recovery:
- Getting federal workers to come back to the office, the H.R. 139 – the “SHOW UP Act.” It would reinstate pre-pandemic telework policies for executive agencies and require a study of the productivity and costs to taxpayers of the highly lax work-at-home policies.
Washington still feels like a ghost town with the highest work-from-home rate of any major city. With an empty downtown, the city faces economic peril.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser delivered a surprising ultimatum to the federal government last week: Get your employees back to in-person work or vacate your empty downtown office buildings “so we can fill the city with people again.”
- H.R. 497 – Freedom for Health Care Workers Act to lift the COVID vaccine mandate on health care providers whose services are billed through Federal health care programs—which is pretty much all of them.
Providing all the arguments and much more is an epic Heritage Foundation study by Bob Moffit and Doug Badger “Forging a Post-Pandemic Policy Agenda: A Road Map for COVID-19 Congressional Oversight.”
It’s the Bible for Congress to guide its oversight agenda, presenting in one place the history of the epidemic, with an analysis of governments’ failed responses and a guide to improving government action going forward.
The paper identifies and explains 13 key weaknesses in government responses, from the testing debacle, mass confusion over mask mandates, determining the origin of the virus, lack of consideration of natural immunity, suppressing scientific dissent, and the collateral damage of lockdowns, especially school closures.
After doing the autopsy, Moffit and Badger then offer a detailed action plan for Congress: “Federal lawmakers must learn from this experience and adopt a broad agenda of public health reform to prepare for the next national health emergency. Congress has a duty to reform government agencies and hold them accountable with a view to restoring public trust in America’s public health agencies.”
It’s time. Maybe even the Senate will agree and also act on these responsible, reasonable measures.