09.22.20

Murray Stops Republican Effort to Undermine Reproductive Rights, Access to Medication Abortion; Republicans Block Murray-Schumer Bill To Stop Political Interference In Pandemic Response

Murray calls out Republicans for prioritizing efforts to attack health care and reproductive rights amid COVID-19 pandemic

 

Murray: “I can’t believe I have to say this, but we need to be taking steps to make this crisis better—not worse.”

 

Murray countered by calling for unanimous consent to pass legislation to stop political interference in the COVID-19 response—which Republicans opposed

 

(Washington, D.C.) –  Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, spoke on the Senate floor to stop an effort from Republicans to restrict access to the medication abortion drug, Mifepristone, which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) 20 years ago. Senator Murray sharply criticized Republicans for attacking access to care and reproductive rights instead of working to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

“We are in the middle of a pandemic. 200,000 people have died, millions more have been infected, and this crisis is nowhere close to over. But are Republicans offering solutions? No. Not even close.

 

“We need to be prioritizing science—instead they are offering a bill that prioritizes partisan ideology. We need to be making it easier for people to get the care they need—instead they are offering a bill with the sole purpose of putting up unnecessary barriers to care.

 

“And not only are they wasting time on their partisan war against abortion with this bill—which they know is a nonstarter, they are also preparing to jam through a Supreme Court nominee who could make things even worse. They are fighting to not just overturn Roe v. Wade, but to strike down health care for tens of millions of people, strike down protections for people with pre-existing conditions, to send health care costs skyrocketing—all during a pandemic.

 

“I can’t believe I have to say this, but we need to be taking steps to make this crisis better—not worse.”

 

Senator Murray then called for the Senate to pass the Science and Transparency Over Politics (STOP) Act by unanimous consent in order to address the Trump Administration’s repeated interference in the work of experts and public health agencies on the frontlines of the nation’s COVID-19 response. However, Republicans objected—blocking the effort to make sure science and public health come before politics.

 

The STOP Act, which Senator Murray, Senator Schumer (D-NY), and 32 of their Democratic colleagues introduced earlier today, would create a task force of the Pandemic Response and Accountability Committee charged with conducting a thorough investigation into any political interference with decisions made by scientific agencies of the Department of Health and Human Services in connection with the pandemic response. These reports would be released to committees of jurisdiction and could be made public, and the task force would have full discretion to release any information that it deems is in the public interest and may be important to public safety.

 

Video of Senator Murray’s remarks opposing Republicans’ bill to restrict access to Mifepristone HERE and text below.

 

Video of Senator Murray’s remarks calling to pass the STOP Act by unanimous consent HERE and text below.

 

[Remarks opposing Republicans’ bill to restrict access to Mifepristone]

 

“M. President, reserving the right to object.

 

“The FDA approved Mifepristone nearly 20 years ago, and leading medical organizations have made clear restrictions on it like those in this bill aren’t based on evidence or patients’ best interests. This bill isn’t about science, health care, or what is best for women across the nation. It’s about ideology, and Republicans wanting to do every single thing they can to chip away at the right to a safe, legal abortion.

 

“Well M. President—not on my watch. This is far from the only Republican effort to ignore the science, ignore the medical professionals, and overrule the personal decisions of patients across the country.

 

“At this very moment they are gearing up to jam through President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee and strike down Roe v. Wade. But, as sure as I’m standing here today to oppose this effort to restrict reproductive rights, you can bet I’ll be standing with women and men across the country to oppose that one too.

 

“I will offer legislation that actually works to protect and help women and families in a moment, but for now, I object.”

 

[Remarks calling to pass the STOP Act by unanimous consent]

 

“Mr. President, We are in the middle of a pandemic. 200,000 people have died, millions more have been infected, and this crisis is nowhere close to over. But are Republicans offering solutions? No. Not even close.

 

“We need to be prioritizing science—instead they are offering a bill that prioritizes partisan ideology. We need to be making it easier for people to get the care they need—instead they are offering a bill with the sole purpose of putting up unnecessary barriers to care. And not only are they wasting time on their partisan war against abortion with this bill—which they know is a nonstarter, they are also preparing to jam through a Supreme Court nominee who could make things even worse.

 

“They are fighting to not just overturn Roe v. Wade. But to strike down health care for tens of millions of people, strike down protections for people with pre-existing conditions, to send health care costs skyrocketing, all during a pandemic.

“I can’t believe I have to say this, but we need to be taking steps to make this crisis better—not worse. Which is why, in a moment, I will offer a unanimous consent request that the Senate proceed to S. 4638—the Science and Transparency Over Politics Act – which Senator Schumer, myself and 32 Democrats introduced today.

 

“Unfortunately, we have seen the Trump Administration repeatedly take dangerous steps to undermine and overrule the experts at our nation’s public health agencies. We’ve seen the President spread lies, misinformation, and conspiracy theories about their work. We’ve seen his officials meddle with key scientific reports, and apply pressure to promote unproven treatments.

 

“And we know this interference can damage public confidence in the science-based guidance our experts issue to help save lives, and in their efforts to evaluate a vaccine and ensure it’s safe and effective. We cannot let that happen.

 

“M. President, this reckless interference didn’t start yesterday, and it’s clear it won’t just stop tomorrow—Congress must take action to make it stop. The STOP Act would do just that by providing much needed transparency and accountability.

 

“Given how many Republicans have said we need to be listening to the experts and following the science, this bill should not be controversial—it should be commonsense.”

 

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