“We need to show the country that we can work together in a bipartisan way to help our fellow man, especially in times of crisis.”

Arrington Says Cooperation — not Confrontation — is Key in the Fight Against COVID-19

WASHINGTON, DC — U.S. Rep. Jodey Arrington (TX-19) appeared before a virtual meeting of The Ripon Society this past Thursday, delivering remarks about the ongoing fight against the coronavirus and the effort underway to reopen the economy across the country and in his home state.

Arrington — shown above and below in his West Texas District earlier this month — kicked off his remarks by discussing his experience working for the administration of President George W. Bush, where he helped oversee the effort to rebuild the Gulf Coast in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and saw first hand the challenges that the country — and the Bush Administration — faced in that regard.

“It was unprecedented at the time,” Arrington said of the crisis. “It was the largest natural disaster in terms of cost ever recorded in our nation’s history. Now, it just seems to pale in comparison to what we’re experiencing today. I certainly have tremendous respect and appreciation for what this Administration has done. It’s been a Herculean lift to try to stand programs up and facilitate resources to the need, and they’ve done it. In my opinion, they have really met the challenge of these times.

“Things haven’t been perfect — there are still things that we are working through to make sure that we foster and facilitate a strong recovery. But it’s been an unprecedented situation, with a lot of unknowns at the beginning to say the least. Given the unknowns and the tremendous anxiety over those unknowns, I think the President has done the best that he could. I think our decision makers at all levels took a very aggressive response and posture. We know more today and we can manage the risks better today.

“Life is about managing risks, and we have a new risk profile. COVID-19 is not going away. We can try to wish it away, and we can dream about a day when it doesn’t exist. But it’s there, and it will increasingly become more manageable and less scary to the psyche of the American people, especially as we get treatments and a vaccine.”

Arrington was elected to the House in 2016. A member of the Ways & Means Committee, he has established a reputation since that time as a common sense conservative who stands up for the priorities of the people he represents.

He talked about some of those priorities in his remarks, and discussed why they are now important to the rest of the country, as well.

“I come from the food, fuel, and fiber capital of the world,” Arrington stated. “No region of the world produces more ag and energy products than West Texas. I think that people often assume that food just shows up at the grocery store or milk just appears on a milk truck. When you have the entire nation focus on supply chains, you get greater appreciation for things we take for granted. Like how we fuel the economy — our energy independence — or our food security, which is national security, as well.”

Arrington also talked about two issues important to his constituents — fiscal discipline and federal restraint — and why, at this time of unprecedented crisis, the call by some to place more control into the hands of Washington must be balanced against what is better handled by the states.

“We don’t want to have an entitlement culture among our states with respect to the federal government,” the Texas Republican stated bluntly. “We have the ability to borrow and spend at orders of magnitude far beyond what a state can do. The fact is that most states have a balanced budget amendment, and there are other limiting factors that don’t constrain us as a federal government. So we are uniquely positioned to do some things. But we’ve gotta be really careful we don’t set a bad precedent here going forward.”

“Don’t get me wrong — we need to show the country that we can work together in a bipartisan way to help our fellow man, especially in times of crisis. When we break from that and put out ideological messaging documents like the HEROES Act, it doesn’t matter how good your intentions are. It’s a major barrier to getting people back to work, and a major obstacle to rehiring, restarting, and returning this economy to the great position it was in pre-COVID-19.”

Arrington concluded his remarks by reiterating the importance of fiscal discipline, and discussing an effort he is leading to see that federal spending — no matter how important in this current crisis — eventually gets back on track.

“The debt is unsustainable,” he said. “That’s not exactly a news flash. [Former Congressman] Kent Hance is fond of saying, ‘After all is said and done, more is said than done.’ And that’s certainly the case with the national debt. Everybody seems to be passionate about doing something about it, but I never see any action — not from the Republicans any more than Democrats.

“So I’ve started a bipartisan group with 15 Democrats led by Scott Peters, and a group of Republicans that includes Tom Reed, the Co-Chair of the Problem Solvers, Mike Johnson, who chairs the RSC, and Warren Davidson from the Freedom Caucus. It’s a great group of very credible members who have influence in our conference. We have come together to agree on a few provisions that would address deficit spending and deal with the debt.”

According to Arrington, these provisions deal with the state of the fiscal union, debt to GDP targets, and the solvency of the Social Security Trust Fund. Arrington further noted that the group just sent a letter to Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy urging him to include these provisions in any COVID-19-related legislation that is considered in the coming weeks and months.

“This crisis is real,” he concluded, “and it’s appropriate and necessary to spend money where it is needed. But we also need to force Congress to do what it will not do otherwise, and that’s deal with the debt and deficit.”

Following his remarks. Arrington — who also serves as Deputy Chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee — took a number of questions, including one about the political environment and whether people are paying attention to the current campaign.

“I think that most of the American public and electorate has taken a break from politics,” he stated. How that plays out in the various races is probably going to depend. In each one of them we’ve got a great shot. We had a positive outcome in California with Mike Garcia. That was huge for our team and our efforts to take back the House. We’re now 17 away.

“I think there are 43 seats that are even better positioned and with better fundamentals going into November than that seat in California — and he won it with double digits. The Democrats did the same thing in 2018 — won it by double digits. So there are some really good signs for us to continue the momentum we have. If I were a Democrat, it would make me pretty nervous to see that seat in California and how that played out.”

According to Arrington, Democrats should also be concerned about GOP fundraising and candidate recruitment, both of which, he said, are putting the party in a position to win back the House this fall.

“Half a million dollars came from WinRed,” he revealed, “so we were starting to see the development of our counter to ActBlue. I think Tom Emmer and those guys are just hammering away and giving little breathing room to the opposition. I think that’s great — he’s doing a great job there. But you also got the quality of candidates.

“Mike Garcia is a great example of the record number of minority, female, and veteran candidates who are running as Republicans this year. I think it’s important that our party is one that represents the diversity of the country, and that we can carry a message to win hearts and minds better with that front. So I see positive signs of what will be hopefully a success in November in terms of us winning back the House.”

The Ripon Society is a public policy organization that was founded in 1962 and takes its name from the town where the Republican Party was born in 1854 – Ripon, Wisconsin. One of the main goals of The Ripon Society is to promote the ideas and principles that have made America great and contributed to the GOP’s success. These ideas include keeping our nation secure, keeping taxes low and having a federal government that is smaller, smarter and more accountable to the people.