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House Republicans call for oversight into Biden’s ‘failed’ COVID-19 response

Julia Nikhinson

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) and Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) on Monday called on House Democrats to hold a hearing on what they said was President Biden’s failed handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The letter, sent as Congress is set to begin a legislative year likely to be defined by the midterm elections, shows Republicans believe they can use the pandemic and Biden’s handling of it to go on offense in November.

“President Biden’s first year in office was one full of broken promises. He promised to ‘shut down the virus.’ He promised ‘by next Christmas [2021]…I think that there’ll be significantly fewer people having to be socially distanced [and] have to wear masks…’ He promised to ‘improve the availability of tests.’ He promised to not ‘demand that [the vaccine] be mandatory.’ And he promised he had a national plan to ‘get this virus under control,'” Scalise and Comer wrote in their letter to House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.).

“He failed on all accounts,” they wrote.

The Republican lawmakers argued that House leadership has been more lenient with the Biden administration than it was with the Trump administration, pointing to how the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus sent the Trump White House 31 letters in 2020, while 10 were sent in 2021 during Biden’s first year in office.

Scalise and Comer listed three points on which they believe Biden has failed in his COVID-19 response: providing enough at-home coronavirus tests, abandoning his own national plan and politicizing the vaccine.

Democrats have separately accused Republicans of politicizing vaccinations, pointing to polls showing conservatives are less likely to get vaccinated and statements critical of vaccines by some GOP lawmakers.

The lack of tests has long been a criticism of the U.S. response to the pandemic, and Biden last month acknowledged some regret in not ramping up testing supplies sooner. He said he did not see the current shortage as a failure, however.

“I don’t think it’s a failure,” Biden said in an ABC News interview, though he also said that “nothing has been good enough” in the pandemic response so far.

“You could argue that we should have known a year ago, six months ago, two months ago, a month ago,” he said. “I wish I had thought about ordering half a billion [tests] two months ago.”

During his interview with ABC’s David Muir, Biden also touched on how omicron caught everyone, including his administration, by surprise.

“Nobody saw it coming. Nobody in the whole world,” Biden said.

Tags Carolyn Maloney James Comer James Comer Jim Clyburn Joe Biden Joe Biden Presidency of Joe Biden Steve Scalise Steve Scalise

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