NEW–TEXAS BACKGROUND: As COVID Numbers Climb, Senator Cornyn Chooses Big Pharma Over Texans
Texas’ average daily case count is over 17,800, with ICUs at 92% capacity
As a key member of the Senate Finance Committee, Cornyn has obstructed confirmation of Biden’s Health and Human Services Secretary nominee Xavier Becerra, leaving department without leadership as COVID-19 continues to devastate Texas
Accountable Senate War Room: “While Texans are getting sick, dying, and losing their jobs or even their homes from the COVID-19 pandemic, Senator Cornyn remains loyal to Big Pharma”
Washington, D.C. – Today, the Accountable Senate War Room released a background brief outlining the ongoing devastation of COVID-19 cases and deaths throughout the state of Texas, highlighting the increasing need to get the pandemic under control. While Texans are fighting for their lives against the pandemic and its subsequent economic impact, Senator John Cornyn, a key Republican member of the Senate Finance Committee, continues to obstruct the confirmation process of Xavier Becerra, President Biden’s nominee for secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Every day further delayed is another day that small businesses remain closed, hard-working Americans remain on unemployment, and lives are lost to the pandemic.
“While Texans are getting sick, dying, and losing their jobs and even their homes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Senator Cornyn remains loyal to Big Pharma. By blocking the confirmation of Xavier Becerra as HHS secretary, Senator Cornyn is hurting his constituents in Texas,” said Mairead Lynn, spokesperson for Accountable Senate War Room. “What does Senator Cornyn have to say to the thousands of Texas families who have mourned the loss of loved ones, who have lost their small business, or who have been unemployed throughout the pandemic? Texans don’t have time on their side. They need immediate action, starting with Senator Cornyn ensuring a speedy confirmation process for Xavier Becerra as secretary of HHS.”
Cornyn’s protection of Big Pharma
Instead of working to provide his constituents with the life-saving aid they so desperately need, Cornyn tweeted out his plans to obstruct then-President-elect Biden’s nominees before many of them had even been announced. After threatening to block Biden’s picks in what was considered a “partisan stunt,” Cornyn was accused of acting out of “blatant hypocrisy” by delaying Biden’s picks. More shocking, Cornyn said the quiet part out loud when he expressed his concerns over Becerra’s lack of ties to Big Pharma in comparison to Trump’s pick: “It’s not like Alex Azar, who worked for Pharma.” Becerra has a track record of taking on special interests, specifically the pharmaceutical industry, and this seems to worry Cornyn, who rakes in donations from Big Pharma to fund his campaigns.
BACKGROUND BRIEF: The impact of obstruction in Texas
Texas has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic: over 2.3 million cases, over 37,000 deaths, and hospital ICUs at 92% capacity. The lack of leadership at HHS threatens to further complicate the government’s COVID-19 response and could impact the agency’s ability to distribute hundreds of millions of vaccines. As a prominent member of the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Cornyn has used his power to delay, obstruct, and stall the confirmation process of Xavier Becerra, putting his own constituents’ health, safety, and livelihoods at risk.
The Department of Health and Human Services plays a huge role in the work that must be done to get the COVID-19 pandemic under control. After the Trump administration left behind a “nonexistent coronavirus vaccine distribution plan,” President Biden is essentially starting “from scratch” and needs his HHS secretary in place to help distribute hundreds of millions of vaccine doses across the country. Further delays could cause vaccines to expire before being administered, forcing life-saving doses to be tossed in the trash. Senate Republicans failed to do their job while they had power during the lame-duck period. It’s time for Republicans to work across the aisle to ensure the Biden administration has all the tools to combat the COVID crisis as quickly and effectively as possible, starting with a swift confirmation of Xavier Becerra.
Here’s a quick snapshot of the COVID-19 situation in Texas:
- Total Case Count: 2,375,218
- Daily Case Count Average: 17,894
- Total Death Count: 37,242
- Hospital ICU Occupancy Rate: 92%
- Texans Completely Vaccinated: 1.7%
- Texans Who Received At Least One Vaccine Dose: 6.7%
- Percent Of Vaccine Supply Distributed: 66%
- Disproportionate Racial Impacts:
- Black Texans: 11.7% of population but 18.6% of cases and only 14.6% of vaccinations.
- Hispanic Texans: 40% of population but 48.6% of cases and 43.9% of deaths and only 15.2% of vaccinations
- White Texans: 41% of population and only 35% of cases but over half of vaccinations