House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Monday claimed that some "faith-oriented" members of Congress have told her that because of their faith, they "don't believe in science."
In a speech on the House floor in support of the $900 billion coronavirus stimulus bill Congress is expected to pass, the California Democrat accused the Trump administration of pursuing a "herd immunity" strategy to combat COVID-19, which she described as "quackery," and suggested that some government officials and members of Congress were anti-science because of their faith.
"We couldn't pass legislation until now because the administration simply did not believe in testing, tracing, treatment, wearing masks, sanitation, separation, and the rest," Pelosi asserted.
"It has become clear to us now that they believed in herd immunity, quackery, springing right from the Oval Office and not denied sufficiently by some of the CDC and the rest," she said. "So, now we have a vaccine and that gives us hope. A vaccine that springs from science."
"People say around here sometimes, 'I'm faith-oriented so I don't believe in science' and I said, 'Well you can do both. Science is an answer to our prayers and our prayers have been answered with a vaccine,'" she continued.
She went on to say the stimulus legislation advanced by Congress will ensure that the COVID-19 vaccine will be distributed "fair, and equitable, and free."
.@SpeakerPelosi on Republicans & the Covid vaccine: "People say around here sometimes, 'I’m faith-oriented so I don… https://t.co/qddlnaupfC— Tom Elliott (@Tom Elliott) 1608560298.0
Reporting for National Review, Brittany Bernstein observed that Pelosi appeared to refer to a recent Politico report about July emails in which a Trump administration official within the Department of Health and Human Services advocated for a herd immunity strategy to end the coronavirus pandemic.
"There is no other way, we need to establish herd, and it only comes about allowing the non-high risk groups expose themselves to the virus. PERIOD," former science adviser Paul Alexander wrote to HHS Assistant Secretary for public affairs Michael Caputo and six other officials in a July 4 email.
"Infants, kids, teens, young people, young adults, middle aged with no conditions etc. have zero to little risk ... so we use them to develop herd ... we want them infected," Alexander added.
Despite Pelosi's assertions, there is no evidence to suggest that the Trump administration followed through with a herd-immunity strategy. Politico's report noted that HHS Secretary Alex Azar testified in October that "herd immunity is not the strategy of the U.S. government with regard to coronavirus."
The administration has supported testing and contact tracing, accelerated development of COVID-19 vaccines and treatment through Operation Warp Speed, and consistently encouraged mask wearing and proper social distancing through CDC guidelines.
President Donald Trump has also for months called on Congress to pass additional stimulus and coronavirus relief as Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) were unable to come to a bipartisan agreement before the U.S. presidential election. In October, Trump offered to sign a stand-alone bill for $1,200 stimulus checks for every American, which Pelosi neglected to act upon.
In fact, Pelosi entirely dismissed the possibility of passing a stimulus bill that fell short of Democratic demands for a roughly $2.2 trillion spending package, even rejecting a compromise supported by 100 Democrats in August.
Now that the election is over and Joe Biden is president-elect, Pelosi is proclaiming victory for securing $900 billion in coronavirus relief Congress will pass as part of a 5,593-page $1.4 trillion spending bill no lawmakers have had time to read.
Axios reported the text of the omnibus spending bill when it was released Friday. The bill includes:
- $600 stimulus checks per adult and child;
- $300 per week of renewed unemployment insurance for 11 weeks;
- $319 billion in small business relief;
- $25 billion for rental assistance, with the moratorium on evictions extended;
- $13 billion in increased food stamp benefits;
- $82 billion in education funding, with $10 billion allocated for childcare;
- $7 billion for increased access to broadband; and
- And billions more for COVID vaccine distribution and testing.