“If there was ever a time for a thoughtful response to the challenges facing our country, it is now.”

Cassidy Says America’s Leaders Need to Work Together

WASHINGTON, DC — U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy (LA) appeared yesterday morning before a virtual meeting of The Ripon Society, delivering remarks in which he discussed not only the fight against the coronavirus and the ongoing nationwide protests, but why it is critical for America’s leaders to come together with a “thoughtful response” for both.

“I’m pleased to speak with The Ripon Society,” the Louisiana lawmaker stated. “Ripon was where the Republican Party was founded. And it was founded as a place to generate ideas to address the injustice of slavery. They came up with an agenda that would not only address that injustice, but also create the economic prosperity that would help a lot of folks who had recently immigrated to our country become politically viable. You can have a great idea, but if it’s not politically viable it doesn’t go forward.

“When you read President Lincoln, our first Republican President, it is amazing the intellect which he brought forth in this regard. Why do I go into that? Because if there was ever a time for a thoughtful response to the challenges facing our country, it is now. We have to work together and apply our conservative principles — our value of life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness — to the problems of today.”

One of those problems is the fight against COVID-19, which has not only killed over 109,000 Americans, but has placed a premium on finding a vaccine. Cassidy said he remains cautiously optimistic about the progress being made in this regard, particularly after a conversation he had with a drug company executive yesterday.

“I was on a phone call yesterday with the CEO of one of the companies that is working on a vaccine,” Cassidy recounted. “He thinks that if all things go as he hopes, we’ll be ready to start administering the vaccine by October. Remember — we had heard originally that it might take a year and a half, and be available somewhere in the summer of 2021. Now, we’re hearing it might be the Fall of this year. I asked him how they were able to achieve that. He said the Administration has worked with them closely. Make no mistake — the President has taken some licks, and some of them have been self inflicted. But this fellow was praising the response of his Administration.

“He also told me that Remdesivir, the medication which has been shown to help but has to be infused, should be inhaled. The company that makes Remdesivir – Gilead – is not the same company that makes inhalers or makes drugs that are inhalable. So the Administration brought the two companies together. And by doing that, we’re now on track to have an inhalable Remdesivir that much sooner. So again, they’ve taken their licks, some of them self inflicted. But when you speak to people in the industry, they are full of praise for what has taken place.”

In addition to talking about about the work being done to find a treatment and vaccine, Cassidy also discussed the economic impact of the coronavirus and ways in which it is affecting cities and towns in Louisiana.

“New Orleans gets its income from sales taxes, hotel taxes, and landing fees for our brand new, beautiful airport,” he observed. “We just went through a season that would have been peak for sales tax receipts. The New Orleans Heritage and Jazz Festival would have attracted maybe a million tourists for two weeks, listening to great jazz, eating great food, supporting the economy, filling the coffers of the city so that we can pay for our police, our fire, sanitation, and ground crews at the airport. That didn’t happen. And so the city is now seeking to borrow a $100 million dollars. Now is clearly not the time to be laying off police.

“But what Moody’s suggests is that over the next 27 months, state and local governments will lose out on $500 billion. There will be three million people laid off. It will take years to recover, and that will be a damper on economic recovery. That is serious. I think again, in light of what we’ve seen happening now, it is not the time to be laying off teachers, sanitation workers, firemen, and police officers. It is just not the time to do it.”

For that reason, Cassidy said that he and Democratic Senator Bob Menendez (NJ) have introduced the SMART Act. The legislation — which stands for State and Municipal Assistance for Recovery and Transition — would target $500 billion in emergency funding to every state, county and community in the country, while prioritizing assistance to the areas with the greatest need. These funds are intended to help states cover rising costs to combat COVID-19 and lost revenues due to the economic fallout. Without this federal assistance, governors, mayors and county leaders have warned of deep cuts to essential services and layoffs of police, firefighters, paramedics, teachers, sanitation, public health and public works employees, and other frontline workers.

In addition to discussing this legislation and the effort to fight COVID-19, Cassidy also shared his thoughts on the death of George Floyd and the protests that have occurred around the country and the world as a result.

“That was horrific,” Cassidy said of the killing. “When I speak to police officers, they’re all shocked. They say there is no police training that would advocate controlling a suspect by that means. I want to contrast what happened in Minnesota with what happened in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Protesters were killed. Bodies were burned. Evidence was destroyed. The Department of Justice came in and put in place a program called EPIC – Ethical Policing is Courageous.

“The program allows a senior officer or someone perceived to be a leader to step in and handle a situation which otherwise may be mishandled. I’ve spoken to the people who’ve helped institute this in New Orleans, and they say that, yes, the rate of crime is about the same. What has been dramatically increased, however, is the confidence of the community in the police force.

“New Orleans has had protesters and police kneeling together in solidarity. They haven’t had riots. Now, something bad could happen. There’s been an infiltration of Antifa and criminal elements that can corrupt this peaceful movement. But what we see, I think, is an example of how things can be done and frankly should be done going forward.”

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.