VIDEO RELEASE: In Hearing, Shaheen Demands Answers from Trump Admin on Delayed Nursing Home Funding

September 16, 2020

Shaheen questions HHS Assistant Secretary for Health Admiral Brett Giroir during the Labor/HHS Appropriations Subcommittee Hearing

Later on the Senate floor: Shaheen demands that the Senate stay in session until a bipartisan bill is delivered to the President’s desk that helps struggling NH families and communities, and protects the public from COVID-19

SHAHEEN: “By no means should the Senate recess until we get a bill to the President’s desk” 

(Washington, DC) - Today, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, questioned top Trump administration health officials on the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic during a Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee hearing. The hearing came as the number of COVID-19 cases rises and the national death toll approaches 200,000. Today’s witnesses included U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Assistant Secretary for Health Admiral Brett Giroir; HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Dr. Bob Kadlec; and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Robert Redfield.

During the hearing, Shaheen questioned the witnesses on the severe and disproportionate impact the crisis has had in nursing homes across the nation and the administration’s failure to fully distribute relief funds meant to help COVID-19 mitigation efforts at long-term care facilities. In New Hampshire, 80% of all COVID-related deaths in the state have occured in nursing homes. Shaheen also slammed HHS’ solicitation of bids for a $250 million public relations contract to bolster the President’s image on his COVID-19 response, using taxpayer funds that could instead be used to provide further relief for health care providers and long-term care facilities that have borne the brunt of this crisis.

Watch the Senator’s questioning in full here.

Later on the floor of the Senate, Shaheen called on her colleagues on both sides of the aisle to immediately come together and resume negotiations on new, meaningful and urgently needed COVID-19 relief legislation to confront the continued economic and public health challenges from the pandemic.

The Senator’s floor remarks can be viewed here.

In her remarks, Shaheen rebuked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for his months-long obstruction on taking action to combat the pandemic, only to then release a meager and inadequate partisan bill that fails to address the pressing needs of Granite Staters.

She said, “It provided no funding for hospitals or health care providers on the frontlines… New Hampshire hospitals have already experienced more than $550 million in lost revenue statewide and they don’t see an end this year… The proposal provided no support for state and local governments facing severe budgetary shortfalls. The state of New Hampshire expects to experience a budget shortfall of nearly $540 million, over half a billion dollars. That’s about a 20 percent drop in state revenues!”

In her remarks, she pointed out the failures and shortcomings in the GOP bill, which include:

  • Failure to provide financial help for families
  • Does not address broadband needs, which deprives communities from improvements in telehealth and remote learning
  • Provides inadequate funding for testing
  • Does not provide substantial assistance for the Postal Service

Shaheen underscored that any potential relief package must address the challenges New Hampshire and the nation face, including:

  • The resumption of the enhanced unemployment insurance benefits that were passed as part of the CARES Act and were allowed to expire by Senate Republicans
  • Additional relief for the hardest hit small businesses, including independent and live performance venues
  • Funding for childcare and schools
  • Additional relief for states, counties and communities
  • More assistance for nursing homes and health care providers
  • Real support for the Postal Service

Shaheen, the Vice Chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee that funds the U.S. Census Bureau, also highlighted the need to ensure that the Census has the time necessary to execute a complete and accurate 2020 count. Over the past few months, she has been sounding the alarm on the Trump administration’s political attacks against the bureau that threaten a fair and accurate 2020 count. “We must give the Census Bureau time to make a complete and accurate count by including a statutory delay for the apportionment and redistricting counts as part of any package before we go home. This is something that the Census Bureau asked us for last spring, and it's something that we should make sure they receive even though under political pressure they've changed their request.”

Shaheen concluded, “Bipartisanship on these priorities is possible… And we should not recess until we get a bill to the President’s desk. We were sent here to do a job. We have an obligation to get it done.”