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“America and Americans shouldn’t have to choose between staying open and staying healthy. We need both, and Congress needs to provide a path beyond the pandemic.”

Click here to watch Sen. Barrasso’s remarks.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) spoke on the Senate floor about the need for Democrats to join Republicans in passing COVID-19 relief legislation for Americans.

He also spoke about the triumph of the new COVID-19 vaccine and its distribution.

Excerpts of Senator Barrasso’s remarks:

“I come to the floor today to ask our Democrat colleagues to join us, the Republicans, in providing immediate relief.

“Relief in the fight against coronavirus, and relief, economic relief, for the people of this country.

“Americans don’t ask much of their government, but they are asking us for something right now.

“Number one, they are asking to help control the spread of the coronavirus, and number two, they are asking to help with an economic recovery.

“America and Americans shouldn’t have to choose between staying open and staying healthy. We need both, and Congress needs to provide a path beyond the pandemic.

“A path forward is something Republicans have been proposing now for a long time. We’ve done it first with the CARES Act, and we need to do it right now with additional coronavirus and economic relief legislation.

“Our bill is practical. It supports our neighborhoods, the men and women working on Main Street and our small towns and communities all across the country.

“We also need to provide unemployment help for those who for no reason of their own happen to find themselves out of work as a result of the pandemic.

“We need to get the vaccine to as many Americans as we can, as quickly and safely as we can. Especially during this holiday season when we are really looking at a medical miracle.

“What we’ve seen from the other side is gridlock. No path forward on the economy, no path forward on coronavirus.

“We’ve seen them play politics with the pandemic.

“House and Senate Republicans have tried now 40 times, 40 different times, to get something accepted that can be sent to provide that relief for the American public.

“The Democrats, each and every time, blocked it.

“The gridlock must end today.

“I would like to spend just a moment on this historic vaccine discovery.

“It is, to me as a doctor, comparable to insulin, comparable to the vaccine for polio, comparable to penicillin as an antibiotic. It’s going to be that dramatic in terms of the change in the world.

“As we gather on the floor today, planes, trucks, UPS, Federal Express, all taking vaccines across the country, many, many locations, over 636 this first week.

“It’s not just a scientific triumph; it’s also a logistical triumph.

“Every newspaper in the country yesterday, I believe, had a picture of someone receiving the vaccine, receiving the shot, in that local community.

“It’s a remarkable time for our nation. As Christmas packages are being delivered, so is this great hope for people receiving the vaccine.

“All told, this week 3 million doses distributed to people around the country, 636 sites.

“In my state alone, Wyoming, five different locations where the vaccine has arrived.

“Over five thousand people being vaccinated this week, by the end of the year 15 thousand.

“The frontline workers are getting it first and that’s the way we need to do it.

“As part of the CARES Act, $10 billion went to help develop the vaccine, money spent to distribute the vaccine, but we need to do more.

“About $6 billion is additionally needed to help in a full distribution of the vaccine.

“I am ready to vote for that. I want to make sure we have that money so the vaccine, which has been amazing in the speed of development, can also be deployed similarly.

“This vaccine has done on an unprecedented scale the number of people who are going to be vaccinated, the success, the timeline. A safe, effective, powerful vaccine. It is truly astonishing.

“Never has a vaccine been developed or distributed faster.

“It truly is the Senate, under the CARES Act, and this administration under Operation Warp Speed, which stood this operation up and made it successful.

“So we’re seeing the real effects as people are getting the shot.

“When you think about it in the big picture, this is what we talk about when we talk about American ingenuity. Its why people around the world look to America for answers. Because when things that are critical occur, it’s America that finds the solutions as we have done right now with this vaccine.

“We’ve come together, public as well as private sector over the last eight months, and the FDA approved a vaccine.

“Who should get it first?

“It’s the doctors and nurses and firefighters who are getting it here in the District of Columbia, and I know firefighters have been getting it at home in Wyoming. People that are health care providers.

“And of course, those who are most vulnerable. People who are in our nursing homes right now, assisted living facilities, people who are most vulnerable. That’s who should get it first.

“But I know when the time comes for me, I’m going to get it. My wife’s going to get it. We will be saying yes, because I believe it’s safe, I believe its effective and I believe it is the solution that gets us through the disease and gets the economy back on track.

“I talked to one of the doctors who runs the intensive care unit at the Wyoming Medical Center.

“The health care personnel are exhausted. They’ve been working double shifts. If one gets sick, the others have to pick up the workload as more and more people show up in the hospitals and emergency rooms with coronavirus.

“This is very welcome relief.

“I just talked to a physician, she works in the emergency room, and she’s going to be vaccinated on Friday.

“The pundits talk about the dark winters of the coronavirus surge, but for the health care providers in our home communities, they have to keep the doors open every day and keep the lights on and take care of these patients one after another, after another.

“Once the first one came and the wave hit different parts of the country at different times, once the first patient came, they continued to come. And they’re still coming today.

“And that’s why this vaccine is such a welcome relief and why for the health care providers who have done such remarkable work, we can say this is their finest hour.

“We need to do more in this body. We have health care workers leading by example. We have folks in assisted living, and close to half of the folks who lost their lives because of coronavirus were residents of assisted living.

“Of those millions of health care workers, we need to make sure that the vaccines continue to flow to them and to all people in this country and it is by doing that, that we will put this disease behind us. We will go back to our strong, robust, growing economy.

“Our kids will be back full time in school. Universities will be returning to the robust future that we know is ahead of them.

“And it’s because of the work of this body months ago through the CARES Act, but our work is not done.

“As we approach the Christmas holiday, there is more work to be done.

“And I turn to my colleagues on the other side of the aisle and say please join us this holiday season to make sure the American people who don’t ask for much, are able to continue to keep their lives on track and move forward into the year 2021 with a vaccine available to everyone and for a much better New Year.”