September 15, 2020
WASHINGTON – At the weekly Republican leadership press conference today, U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.) discussed the importance of the Abraham Accords, which were signed at the White House today, that will pave the way for normalized relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. Blunt commended President Trump and his administration’s role in facilitating the agreements, which will improve diplomatic and economic ties between Israel and the two nations.
Blunt, Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor/HHS), also previewed tomorrow’s Labor/HHS hearing that will review the Department of Health and Human Services’ coronavirus response efforts.
Following Are Blunt’s Remarks:
“Let me say, first of all, a remarkable event being recognized at the White House today. To have two Middle Eastern countries be the first two countries in decades, I think since Jordan decades ago recognized Israel, to recognize Israel, to begin to have economic and travel exchanges between their country and Israel on a normal, daily basis.
“I think, from the point of view of the president, it shows his willingness to think totally outside of the box, and from the point of view of the two governments involved, both Bahrain and the UAE, real effort to find out how to reach out and become more tolerant as societies. I think it is a significant point forward in what can and will and is happening in the Middle East and I want to be grateful to the president's leadership and what the State Department, and others, have done in our country. But what Israel, what the UAE, and what Bahrain have done being recognized today, a really significant development.
“And on the vaccine front, the testing front, the therapeutics front, we'll be having a hearing tomorrow in the appropriations committee that I chair with Admiral Giroir, with Dr. Kadlec from HHS, and Dr. Redfield from CDC. And the questions will be: What is the plan to distribute the vaccine when we get it? Are we in fact on track to have tens of millions of easy-to-take and quick-response tests by October? And what is the determination as to how we'll prioritize who gets the vaccine first?
“I think what we're going to see is a fully vetted, absolute FDA commitment to a vaccine that people can be secure in. But we're going to then have that vaccine earlier than we would have otherwise because of this early investment in the vaccines we think are most likely to be approved. And, of course, we’ll only go forward with vaccines that are approved, but they'll be available months earlier than they otherwise would have been. We're going to ask all of those questions tomorrow.
“I think the news here is good. But part of the job of the Congress is to continue to insist on timetables and deadlines and specific information as to what we're going to do and when we're going to do it and how quickly we'll be able to follow up on delivering new tests, new therapeutics, or the vaccines when we have them.”