Clyburn: US Lacks Plan to Stop Virus 08/06 06:28
(AP) -- Rep. James Clyburn said Wednesday the COVID-19 crisis is "much, much
worse" than the 2008 Great Recession because the U.S. is without a national
strategy to contain the coronavirus.
"Our entire economy is at stake," Clyburn told The Associated Press in a
The third-ranking House Democrat said he's hopeful that negotiators on
Capitol Hill can reach an agreement soon on a new virus aid package. But he
said it's a direr situation than the financial crisis more than a decade ago.
"We've got a health care crisis wrapped into an economic crisis, and they
are so interwoven," Clyburn said. "You can't solve the economic crisis without
solving the health care crisis, and the problem we've got is that we do not
have a national plan to deal with this virus."
Clyburn said, "That's not the way you run a national government."
As the virus crisis scrambles the summer political conventions, Clyburn said
he won't be attending the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee, which
officials said Wednesday will be almost entirely virtual.
But he said it's not appropriate for President Donald Trump to use the White
House as the backdrop to accept the Republican Party's nomination, as Trump has
"Let him do it from the golf course," Clyburn said.
He warned that Trump may be trying to sway the election by discouraging
voter turnout or the use of mail-in ballots during the pandemic.
"We got bar codes that can identify every stick of chewing gum in a grocery
store and you are telling me that we cannot have bar codes to identify every
ballot that goes out and certify it as it comes in?" he said.
"We can do this. That's what we've got to do. Put the money in this budget.
And so that we can have a fair, unfettered election," said Clyburn, who is the
House Democratic whip. "This guy is trying to do everything he possibly can to
prevent that from happening."
The South Carolina Democrat was widely seen as instrumental in Joe Biden's
sweep of the early-primary state, and as the highest-ranking Black lawmaker he
has been an influential voice as the presumed Democratic nominee chooses a
Clyburn said he hopes Biden will consider naming a Black woman as the vice
presidential pick, but it's not a "must."
"The only real must is to win the election," he said. "I'm the father of
three black women. I would be very proud to see a black woman on the ticket.
But having said that, I've also said I don't think that's a must."
Clyburn dismissed concerns being raised over one potential vice presidential
contender, Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., over comments she has made that were seen
as sympathetic to Cuba under its former leader Fidel Castro.
"Well, this seemed to concern a lot of people, but, you know, I was a
19-year-old one time myself," he said. "One should not hold people responsible
for the rest of their lives for something they may have said as a 19- or
20-year-old child. You know, when I was a child, I spoke as a child and
understood as a child. But when I became a man, I put away childish things. I
think the same thing applies to women as well."
He also took in stride the apparent defeat of a longtime colleague, Rep.
Lacy Clay of Missouri, in Tuesday's primary to newcomer Cori Bush, as simply
the flow of the times.
Bush was a leader of the Black Lives Matter movement that emerged from the
police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. "This issue has been looming
over the political process in Missouri," Clyburn said.
He praised Clay's tenure as a lawmaker and welcomed Bush's candidacy. "I
hope that we can continue to move forward," he said. "Everybody get their turn
to do whatever they can do. And she's going to have her turn. And I will be as
helpful for her as I can possibly be."
As negotiations churn in Congress on the next aid package, Clyburn noted
that Democrats already approved their sweeping COVID-19 aid bill months ago
while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell criticized it and hit pause on
"The House did its work," he said. "And, of course, Mitch McConnell told us
at the time that it was literally a joke. He didn't see the seriousness of it."