Fumbled infrastructure rollout leaves Republicans asking who’s really in charge at White House

“What Republicans have come to understand is that this White House has handlers that control, apparently, the president’s actions and decisions,” said Rep. Jason Smith (R-Mo.) in an interview with Just the News.

Smith, the ranking member on the House Budget Committee, was referring specifically to President Biden’s botched rollout of the long-awaited bipartisan infrastructure plan last week.

Last weekend was a scramble for Biden to walk back a comment he made in front of the White House Thursday to announce agreement on a bipartisan framework for a $1.2 trillion infrastructure package.

“If this is the only thing that comes to me, I’m not signing it,” said the president, standing next to a working group of Democrat and Republican senators who were surprised to hear him condition his support for the deal they had just negotiated on passage of a budget-busting Democrat spending bill. That bill, which Democrats hope to pass without Republican votes in the Senate using budget reconciliation, will potentially include much of the spending that moderate Republicans (and Democrats) worked to cut from the bipartisan framework.

“It was a surprise to say the least that those two got linked, and I’m glad they’ve now been de-linked,” said Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) called the president’s unexpected announcement an “extortion” effort by Democrats.

The promise of passing the bills simultaneously would potentially appease members of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party who feel the bipartisan infrastructure package is too small. However, that plan would evidently drive away some key Republican votes needed for the infrastructure bill to pass.

Describing Biden’s initial statement as “the worst bait and switch tactic that you could see from a politician,” Rep. Smith said: “Most Republicans have whiplash on Biden’s infrastructure plan … and, um, that Saturday statement was a classic ‘cleanup on aisle four.'” 

Part of a statement of clarification from the White House released on Saturday read: “At a press conference after announcing the bipartisan agreement, I indicated that I would refuse to sign the infrastructure bill if it was sent to me without my Families Plan and other priorities, including clean energy. That statement understandably upset some Republicans, who do not see the two plans as linked; they are hoping to defeat my Families Plan — and do not want their support for the infrastructure plan to be seen as aiding passage of the Families Plan. My comments also created the impression that I was issuing a veto threat on the very plan I had just agreed to, which was certainly not my intent.” 

Despite the clarification, the politics of passing the infrastructure package have only just begun, and appear to be growing messier and more complex by the day.

Republicans are wondering if negotiating with the White House in good faith is worth the time, effort and political risk, given Biden’s loose, at best, handle on the situation. And Democratic leadership must consider the realistic chances of passing the infrastructure bill without support from progressives, if leadership wants to pass the bill at all. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is reportedly not bullish on the package and isn’t likely to let it migrate through her chamber unaccompanied by a massive spending bill.

House Republicans are hoping to portray the mess as a failure of the unified, Democrat-led government in Washington — a strategy that may prevail, if the White House cannot find a way to wrangle all critical players around the infrastructure bill.

What was meant to be a shining moment of victory for the Biden agenda may have inadvertently illustrated how little control over the party the president actually has. 

Republicans, meanwhile, are “trying to figure out who to negotiate with at the White House — because apparently, it’s not the President United States,” said Smith. 

“I think the American people look at this and wonder who’s in charge.” 

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Former surgeon general blasts CDC over mask communication: ‘They fumbled the ball at the 1-yard-line’

Former Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams blasted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention after he said they “fumbled the ball at the 1-yard-line” in handling mask guidance for Americans.

Adams served under the Trump administration from 2017 until former President Donald Trump left office in January.

What are the details?

Adams said that he agreed with the plan of eliminating the need for masks in fully vaccinated Americans, but the execution was subpar to say the least.

During a Monday appearance on CNN’s “New Day,” Adams said, “I think this was an appropriate call based on the science. I think the play call was right, but they fumbled the ball at the one-yard line in terms of communicating this to the public.”

Adams also said that CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky’s announcement left those people working in public health “blindsided.”

“I think you miss the nuance about protecting yourself versus protecting an organization,” Adams explained. “It was a little bit of whiplash for the American public in terms of them saying just a week before, ‘Keep your mask on’ and then all of sudden they’re saying, ‘Now you can take them off.'”

What else?

In Thursday remarks made in a White House press briefing, Walensky
said, “Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities — large or small — without wearing a mask or physically distancing. If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic.”

Walensky’s announcement came just one day after she addressed Congress and told them that masks were still necessary for Americans — vaccinated or not.

Walensky told Fox News’ Chris Wallace on Sunday that the organization is “getting data, evolving data, on the science.”

“It certainly would have been easier if this science had evolved a week earlier and I didn’t have to go to Congress making this statement,” Walensky admitted. “But I’m delivering the science … and you know, it evolved over this last week.

“And so taking all of these data together, we’ve been working really actively just this whole last week to try and move the science, move the data, to the American people and tell people — deliver the science to them,” she added.

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CDC “fumbled the ball at the one-yard line” – HotAir

The Monday morning reviews are in and they aren’t good for the CDC’s handling of its new face mask policy announcement. The reversal in mask requirements for indoor and outdoor spaces is good but the messaging of the change was bad, according to a former surgeon general. CNN’s chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, agrees.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky suddenly saw the light last week and announced that face masks are not mandatory accessories for fully vaccinated people. It doesn’t matter if that person is inside or outside, a face mask isn’t necessary. This official proclamation was welcome news, indeed, but the timing of it was suspicious. In the span of just a couple of days, Walensky went from telling a Senate committee that the CDC’s official policy on face masks remained in place on Tuesday to then announce the big change on Thursday. We later learned that Walensky signed off on the new orders on Monday but kept up the charade for the senators during her testimony on Tuesday. That kind of lack of transparency does nothing to encourage confidence in the CDC or in her leadership, either. The sudden announcement Thursday took everyone by surprise.

Former surgeon general Dr. Jerome Adams was interviewed on CNN this morning and said that the CDC fumbled in its communication efforts. There is much confusion on how exactly the new guidance will work with a population of both vaccinated and unvaccinated people. Stores, for example, are grappling on if they should require masks or not, and what about their employees? There is also the question of how parents can best handle children too young for vaccinations, those under 12 years of age.

Watch the interview and then we’ll continue.

I’ll admit that I miss Dr. Adams. He was one of my favorites of Trump’s appointments. He made mistakes but they all made mistakes, especially at the beginning of the pandemic. Anyway, Adams is right. Everyone is confused.

“I think this was an appropriate call based on the science,” Dr. Jerome Adams said on CNN Monday morning. “I think the play call was right, but they fumbled the ball at the one-yard line in terms of communicating this to the public.”

Adams, who was a top messaging officer for former President Trump’s coronavirus response team, said many of his colleagues in public health described to him a feeling of being “blind-sided” by the new CDC guidance.

“I think you miss the nuance about protecting yourself versus protecting an organization,” he said. “It was a little bit of whiplash for the American public in terms of them saying just a week before, keep your mask on and then all of sudden they’re saying now you can take them off.”

Also not impressed with Walensky’s performance is CNN’s chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. It’s interesting that a liberal like Gupta is in agreement with Adams, speaking out about his concern, too.

Gupta said the CDC “made a critical error here in surprising basically everyone with a very significant change.” He added that just days before the announcement was made, he spoke to senior leaders at the CDC who told him indoor masking would probably be the last thing to be lifted because “it is so effective and it’s not that hard to do in most situations — just to put a mask on.”

It is important for those calling the shots to explain how the two populations (vaccinated and unvaccinated) should proceed moving forward with their lives.

Another point of concern is the lack of guidance on how best to implement these new guidelines, and if the loosened restrictions could potentially increase the risk of infection for those who cannot yet get vaccinated and the immuno-compromised.

The announcement created a domino effect in the business world, prompting companies to announce that they would lift mask mandates for vaccinated customers in most cases. Walmart, Trader Joe’s and Costco, for instance, are no longer requiring vaccinated customers to wear masks in stores. But Walmart did send out a letter Friday noting, “masks will also continue to be required by some city and state ordinances, and we will follow those requirements.”

The CNN host was interested in pursuing the politicization of masks as it happened during the pandemic but Dr. Adams refused to take the bait. He went on to talk about a book he has coming out soon that talks about the pandemic and politics as he experienced it, apparently. The truth is that the left politicized masks and the COVID-19 vaccines – including both Biden and Harris saying they’ll hesitate before being vaccinated with a vaccine developed during Trump’s administration – but now that Biden is in office, the left is still desperate to blame Trump for problems they can’t seem to solve themselves. The left rarely acknowledges the success of Operation Warp Speed as it should and Trump’s aggressive pursuit of a vaccine for COVID-19 which turned into multiple vaccines being developed.

Speaking of the surgeon general, where is our current one? Vice Admiral Vivek Murthy holds the title now after Biden didn’t hold over Adams. Where has he been through the Biden days of the pandemic? Shouldn’t the nation’s top doc be offering guidance on such an important change? Meanwhile, I’ll look forward to reading the book coming out by Dr. Adams. His perspective of the pandemic and what happened in the political arena should be interesting.

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Has the Biden admin fumbled the J&J vaccine rollout?

Maybe, although Politico attributes it more to the short supply given the US by Johnson & Johnson. And that’s fair … to a point.  The initial projection for the first delivery after an emergency-use authorization was 10 million doses, but J&J only delivered slightly more than four million. For some reason, though, almost half of those doses haven’t been injected into arms almost a month later:

Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot Covid vaccine was supposed to be the catalyst for the country’s return to normal. Instead, it’s sparking confusion and finger-pointing between the states and the Biden administration over why millions of doses are sitting unused.

Almost three weeks after the Food and Drug Administration authorized the shots, no one appears to be able to explain why immunizations are lagging. Some states are thought to be intentionally holding back shots, while others say it takes time to inoculate populations like the homebound.

Over the course of the last two weeks, senior Biden administration officials have met privately to try and determine what happened. Two senior administration officials believe states are conserving their J&J supplies until there’s enough to reach underserved communities and specific groups, like teachers or the disabled. But multiple state officials say they’re using whatever they get as soon as they get it.

What is clear is that around 2.3 million of the 4.3 million doses of the vaccine delivered have actually been administered. Between 140,000 and 200,000 doses have made it into people’s arms in recent days, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Sound familiar? The same issue popped up when the Trump administration began distributing the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, too. In those cases, a short initial supply got over-managed, but that had one key difference. States got confused as to whether they should hold second doses in reserve to make sure those who had first doses didn’t miss the necessary booster to complete their inoculations, or to get as many first shots in and trust that the supply would hold up for the second. For the most part, states and partnering pharmacies chose the first option, which kept millions of doses tied up but still listed as inventory.

The J&J vaccine, however, doesn’t require a second dose. It’s a single-dose shot, which means that it’s practically designed for just-in-time delivery. There is no need to reserve shots, at least medically speaking. And this is where both the states and the Biden administration appear to have jumped the rails, because medical priorities have given way to political priorities:

“You can’t distribute the vaccine equitably if there aren’t enough doses to distribute,” one senior health official said. …

Because states have final say in how their allotments are distributed, some are using the J&J vaccine on populations harder to reach for a second-shot appointment. Others are putting speed over equity and sending out the shots broadly.

This confusion over “equity” has replaced the second-dose question as a roadblock to fast deployment. At least the second-dose question related to a real medical issue, though. This looks more like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic before getting the lifeboats into position. The value of the vaccine right now is in stopping rapid community transmission in the US, and with it the potential for the emergence of more variants that might reduce the effectiveness of all vaccines. After inoculating the most vulnerable — elderly and front-line personnel, who have mainly been covered by Pfizer and Moderna anyway — we want the succeeding vaccines to go into the arms of people who are out and about in public. That’s where the transmission risk is, and the more we worry about rationing for “equity,” the more we leave gaps to allow for that risk to continue.

The result is precisely what we see: millions of doses sitting on the sidelines while bureaucrats argue over their distribution. Had those doses gone into arms two weeks ago, two million more Americans would have become non-transmitters of the virus right now. (In fact, I’m one of the 2.3 million who did get a J&J vaccine, and my two-week mark is today.)

The good news is that the expected ramp-up of production on all lines will eventually resolve this issue, despite the screwed-up priorities of the bureaucrats. Massive production increases has resolved the second-dose issue in most states with Pfizer and Moderna, and an expected EUA for AstraZeneca might help too, as we have over 30 million doses already on hand for distribution of that vaccine. If we are to win this war on COVID-19, however, we can’t leave our weapons on the shelf, because vaccines don’t conquer pandemics — vaccinations conquer pandemics.

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