House

Democrats call Trump's COVID-19 response 'among the worst failures of leadership in American history'

House Democrats on the committee overseeing the coronavirus crisis released a report Friday calling the Trump administration's response "among the worst failures of leadership in American history."

The report from the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis comes four days before Election Day, in a campaign where Democrats have hammered President Trump over his response to a virus that has killed more than 228,000 people in the U.S.

"President Trump's decision to mislead the public about the severity of the crisis, his failure to listen to scientists about how to keep Americans healthy, and his refusal to implement a coordinated national plan to stop the coronavirus have all contributed to devastating results: more than 227,000 Americans dead, more than 8.8 million Americans infected, and a dangerous virus that continues to spread out of control nine months after it reached our nation's shores," the report said.

The report pointed to the administration's failure to "implement a national plan on testing, contact tracing, public health measures, and protective equipment," instead shifting much responsibility to the states that were competing with each other for testing supplies and protective equipment early on in the pandemic.

The White House's own findings that it sent to states, but did not release to the public, have shown the number of "red zone" states increasing from seven on June 23 to 31 on Oct. 18, the committee found, in contrast to Trump's continued public downplaying of the severity of the virus.

The committee report also highlighted instances of the administration having "injected politics into public health decisions," such as guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in August that said asymptomatic people do not need to be tested, which eventually was walked back somewhat amid a firestorm.

On the economic side, the committee said 9 million Americans were still waiting as of September to receive their $1,200 checks that Congress authorized in the CARES Act more than six months earlier.

Republicans dismissed the report as political posturing ahead of the elections.

"Democrats' latest partisan report issued just days before the election underscores how they've used the Select Subcommittee to attack President Trump and politicize the pandemic to the detriment of the American people," said House GOP Whip Steve Scalise (La.), the top Republican on the panel.

The report comes as the war of words escalates between Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who have been in talks about a coronavirus relief package.

The two sent dueling letters to each other this week, with Pelosi saying she has not received a "final answer" on her push for language on a national strategy for testing and tracing and Mnuchin responding that he had provided comments to Pelosi.

House Democratic Whip James Clyburn (S.C.), the chairman of the committee that authored Friday's report, said the administration had essentially thrown in the towel on the pandemic.

He pointed to White House chief of staff Mark Meadows's recent comments that "we're not going to control the pandemic."

"It is unconscionable that the White House chief of staff has essentially surrendered," Clyburn said.

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