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GOP lawmaker: US will see improvement on virus 'in a couple of weeks'

GOP lawmaker: US will see improvement on virus 'in a couple of weeks'
© Greg Nash

A senior House Republican lawmaker said Friday that he expects the United States to start to get on top of the coronavirus pandemic "in a couple of weeks."

During an interview for C-SPAN's "Newsmakers" program, Rep. Greg WaldenGregory (Greg) Paul WaldenHillicon Valley: Leadership changes at top cyber agency raise national security concerns | Snapchat launches in-app video platform 'Spotlight' | Uber, Lyft awarded federal transportation contract Lawmakers urge FCC to assist in effort to rip out, replace suspect network equipment OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Barrasso to seek top spot on Energy and Natural Resources Committee | Forest Service finalizes rule weakening environmental review of its projects | Biden to enlist Agriculture, Transportation agencies in climate fight MORE (R-Ore.) said he anticipates a slowing of the virus in April after more test results come in amid continued social distancing.

Walden, the top Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said there will likely continue to be hotspots in the country as health officials seek to stem the spread of the virus.

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He said that the spring and summer weather could help combat the virus, but cautioned that people should expect the coronavirus to reemerge in the fall like the traditional flu does.

Asked about President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump alludes to possible 2024 run in White House remarks Trump threatens to veto defense bill over tech liability shield Tiger King's attorney believes they're close to getting pardon from Trump MORE's goal of reopening the economy by Easter, Walden described the president as an optimist, adding there may be places around the country that could start the process of returning to normal.

Other topics that Walden tackled included:

* Rep. Thomas MassieThomas Harold MassieCheney seeks to cool tensions with House conservatives House in near-unanimous vote affirms peaceful transfer of power Ron Paul hospitalized in Texas MORE (R-Ky.). Walden said it was "unfortunate, unfair and unnecessary" that Massie forced members of Congress to return to the Capitol to vote on the $2 trillion emergency measure that Trump signed into law Friday. While Walden said Massie had a right to do it, he suggested that the move put legislators at risk.

* Remote voting. Walden said he favors a remote voting process to be used only in rare circumstances.

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* The next virus-related bill. Walden wants a stalled surprise medical billing measure to be included in the next virus package, noting the bill that he helped craft has broad bipartisan support.

* Access to business loans. Businesses should be able to gain access to capital over the next couple of weeks, according to Walden. He explained that the $2 trillion law allows businesses to apply through the Small Business Administration's 7(a) program. Walden said that means that businesses can go to their local bank or financial institution to get the money. If the employer follows certain conditions – such as not laying off workers – the loan turns into a grant, he noted.

* Republicans winning back the House. Walden, who formerly ran the House GOP campaign arm, said there is "at least" a 50-50 chance Republicans take back the lower chamber this fall. While many independent handicappers say Democrats are likely to retain the House, Walden said millions of Trump supporters who voted in 2016 didn't vote in the 2018 midterms. He suggested Trump's base is strong and is expected to vote in heavy numbers in 2020.

Walden, 63, announced last year that he will not be seeking reelection. He was first elected to Congress in 1998.

C-SPAN's "Newsmakers" program will air Sunday at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. EDT.