Wyoming Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney delivered remarks this week after receiving the American Life Sciences Innovation Council’s 2020 Champion of Health Care Innovation Award from the Wyoming Hospital Association, the Casper Chamber of Commerce, the Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce, and the Wyoming Medical Society.
You can watch her comments below and a full transcript of her remarks is also available below.
Thank you very much, and thanks to everybody. We’ve all worked together really closely throughout this year in particular and before. I’m really grateful to all of you for everything you’re doing. I know, just talking about what’s happening now and the challenges we’re facing now, obviously COVID is at the top of the list. Eric has been just hugely helpful as we’ve worked to try to get legislation passed to get additional resources to our hospitals across the state. We were able, just in the last week or so, to get additional health care workers, some nurses and additional health care workers, to Cheyenne and Gillette, and we’re going to continue to do that. You all see very much how important it is, particularly in these times, to make sure that we are providing the resources that are necessary from the federal level, but also I think if you just look at — because we’re focused on medical innovation, one of the stories that has not, you know with everything else that we’re addressing and dealing with, is the really incredible process that has gone on through Operation Warp Speed put in place by President Trump and the task force at the White House.
We know the story, we all hear the news about the vaccines that have been developed, those clearly have been developed because of medical innovation. But I think the untold story that’s not getting enough credit is the distribution system that’s been set up. The White House really focused on this, and one of the reasons I think it’s so important is because it is a partnership between the military and the American private sector. It is because of American medical innovation, because of what our private sector is able to do that we’ve been able to develop these vaccines. Then General Perna, the four star general who was put in charge of distribution wisely said, ‘Let’s use existing systems, let’s use private sector entities that are out there that are already in the distribution business. Let’s use Fed-Ex, let’s use UPS, let’s use CVS and Walgreens. Let’s do everything we can to make sure we’re not reinventing the wheel.’ They also really wisely said, ‘Let’s let each state decide what’s best for the state,’ and I think that’s been one of the real hallmarks of the success of this administration and of what we’ve been able to do in Congress to help to support innovation and to help to make sure that any steps we’re taking don’t kill medical innovation. I think anytime you hear — there’s been a lot of grumbling about well, is there a transition process? Is there a transition team? Sometimes you especially hear people saying, ‘Oh my gosh, how are we going to distribute the vaccine if the Biden staff isn’t able right now to get their hands on the distribution system?’ My response to that has been, ‘Thank goodness they don’t have their hands on the distribution system right now.’ Because we do not need vaccines seized by the government, we don’t need a system that is nationalized in a way that doesn’t reflect the real innovation of the process, and the important partnership between the military and the private sector.
So, I think that we will continue to do everything that we can to make sure that we respect and honor and reflect and support that innovation and make sure that that work continues to thrive. If I could maybe take a couple of minutes, I’d be interested to hear from folks, Eric, in particular, Sheila, give me a sense of what you’re seeing right now, on the ground what you’re seeing in Cheyenne, and then hear from Michael about Casper in terms of where we are on things like PPE, things like hospital space, and let me say in closing before we go to that, we are going to be working in the lame duck session, I hope, to be able to get additional PPP out the door. We have a discharge petition on the Republican side that would allow businesses that have applied once to reapply again. There’s something like $138 billion dollars in PPP that’s still there. I think you’re going to see increasing recognition that we’ve got to do more. The vaccines are certainly the light at the end of the tunnel, and those are coming very quickly, but we’re going to have to get people through the next several months here and make sure that people’s businesses can continue to thrive.