"The Trump administration doesn't think it was their responsibility to manage a crisis like this. They didn't believe in the legitimacy of the federal government," Sen. Chris Murphy warns.
April 1, 2020

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) has been sounding the alarm about the Trump administration's past and current indifference to the national pandemic crisis.

"What is shocking to me today is that there is nothing different than what was happening in early February when the administration was refusing to take this crisis seriously," he told Mika Brzezinski.

"There was no national response in early February and there is no national response today, other than the three pieces of legislation passed by the Congress. And the most egregious lack of federal response comes on this issue of personal protective equipment, ventilators and tests. It is 'Lord Of The Flies' out there right now, as Governor Cuomo said yesterday, it's like eBay for states and hospitals. They all go online every single day to try to bid on a ventilator and they run up the price and the ventilator ends up going to who can pay the most, not where it is needed the most. And so we've put in legislation that I hope Congress will take up soon that will require the president to federalize the manufacture and the distribution of medical equipment."

He called it a "core responsibility" of the federal government during a crisis.

"And for from what we understand, the only reason the president isn't doing this is because industry loves the fact that they are able to profiteer, they are able to make tons of money off of Governor Cuomo and Governor Lamont and others who are bidding up the prices on these scarce supplies."

Sen. Murphy blamed the national Chamber of Commerce and industry groups for lobbying the president heavily "to not take control of the manufacturing and supply chain. And to be clear, because right now they're in a cat bird's position. they are able to make a lot of money when all these hospitals and states are bidding against each other."

There's also the matter of an ideological resistance to any federal intervention in the marketplace, he said.

"Early on, the Trump administration doesn't think it was their responsibility to manage a crisis like this. They didn't believe in the legitimacy of the federal government. I don't think anything's changed. Secretary Azar goes on TV and says it's not the federal government's job to help states get personal protective equipment, that's states' jobs, hospitals' jobs. No, it isn't. You have to have a national response and there continues to be no federal strategy from this administration to confront this crisis."

Willie Geist asked Murphy about a Feb. 5 coronavirus briefing he has called "chilling."

"At this time in early February, there were only a handful of cases. But inside that room, senators were begging the administration to request emergency funding from Congress, and specifically for supplies. In early February, we were telling the administration we don't have the supplies necessary to be able to keep people alive if coronavirus hits us like it hit China. And the answer from the administration was 'we don't need anymore money, we can handle it with the resources that we have.'

"And their response really has never changed. We passed three pieces of legislation. We've put trillions of dollars into this fight. But all of that has been at the initiative of Congress. The administration initially asked for $1 billion, that's all they thought they needed. Finally after they finally came to their senses that they couldn't do it with existing resources, they have never been serious about this.

"They aren't serious about it today."

UPDATE: A reminder of Sen. Murphy's tweet from Feb 5th.

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