Engel Participates in Hearing on Failed Trump Administration Response to the Coronavirus

Engel Participates in Hearing on Failed Trump Administration Response to the Coronavirus

Questions whistleblower Dr. Bright on Trump Administration failures in responding to COVID-19

Congressman Eliot L. Engel, a top Member of the Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee, today participated in hearing on the federal response to the coronavirus outbreak. 

In this historic hearing, the House panel first investigated the case of Dr. Rick Bright, the former Director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), which is responsible for helping develop treatments and vaccines for the coronavirus. Dr. Bright filed a whistleblower complaint on May 5 alleging the political leadership of the Trump Administration removed him from his post because he contradicted the President’s claims that anti-malarial drugs known as chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine could treat coronavirus. 

“I represent, in New York, Bronx County and Westchester County, which are the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak,” Engel said during his questioning of Dr. Bright. “While New Yorkers have really rallied together in support of their neighbors, the Administration has failed at every turn. The President has sidelined our best scientists, pushed baseless conspiracy theories, and more recently prescribed unproven remedies like Lysol to suffering Americans. 

“Since the early days of the outbreak, the President has encouraged doctors to prescribe chloroquine to suffering Americans despite a lack of evidence supporting its use. On April 24, the President’s handpicked FDA Commissioner even came out against the use of chloroquine for COVID-19 cases.”

Video of Congressman Engel’s questions to Dr. Bright can be found here.

In the second part of the hearing, the subcommittee examined the nation’s medical supply chain, particularly it’s over-reliance on foreign countries like China. Engel said during the hearing that our reliance on other countries like China poses significant risk. 

“Every day, I hear from my constituents, including doctors and nurses serving on the frontlines of this pandemic about the dire shortages of personal protective equipment and therapeutics,” Engel said. “Recently, I helped author the Preventing Drug Shortages Act, with several of my colleagues on this subcommittee, provisions from which were included in the recently enacted CARES Act.

“This all ties together. I have used my role as Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee to cut through red-tape and bring much needed supplies like 100,000 antibody tests for New York City from China. All these actions, as you point out Mr. Bowen, are symptoms of a larger problem; most US medical products are manufactured abroad. 

“As this pandemic has highlighted, this leaves the United States vulnerable in public health crises and poses a national security threat.” 

Video from the second part of the hearing can be found here.


BACKGROUND: Congressman Engel has been at the forefront of New York delegation’s work to provide relief to the state. On May 4, Congressman Engel secured $5 billion from the CARES Act for hard-hit New York hospitals, including nearly $437 million for hospitals visited by his constituents. He also secured $76 million for New York’s community health centers from the CARES Act on April 8, including $2 million for the Mount Vernon Neighborhood Health Center and $5.8 million for Hudson River Health Care which serve his constituents. He also helped steer $700 million for New York State and $807 million for New York City, the most of any jurisdictions, in federal funds to help increase coronavirus testing.