U.S. Senate candidates on the issues: The federal COVID-19 response

Last month, we asked our readers what issues they wanted to hear the candidates running for office address ahead of November’s general election. Based on the input we received, we developed a five-item questionnaire for candidates running for the open U.S. Senate seat in Kansas.

We’ll be publishing the candidates’ responses to one item per day, each day this week. Today we’re publishing the candidates’ responses to item #3:

The number of deaths from COVID-19 per 100,000 people in the United States is considerably higher than many developed Western countries (like Canada, France and Germany) — though slightly below others (like the UK and Spain). Are you satisfied with the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic? What could the government have done differently to improve outcomes here in the United States?

Barbara Bollier (Democrat)

I’ve been disappointed in the federal response to COVID-19. We need Democrats and Republicans to work together to help states get the resources they need and make sure Kansans can pay the bills and keep a roof over their heads. We need the federal government to step up and help Kansans now. For example, we need more money for schools, funding for small businesses, and we need to extend unemployment benefits for workers who don’t have jobs to return to.

Not only that, we need our leaders to model good behavior — to wear masks, social distance when in public, and be role models for our kids and our communities. I’m distressed by Congressman Roger Marshall’s failure to consistently follow simple public health guidance that can help contain the virus.

Roger Marshall (Republican)

From the onset of this pandemic, my top priority has been the safety of Kansas families. I was the first member of Congress to sound the alarm on COVID-19 back in January. I put my 30 years of medical experience to use by volunteering in hospitals across Kansas. I worked with the White House to immediately secure critical PPE [personal protective equipment] and other medical supplies for Kansas.

Our efforts have led to new miracle treatments, the most testing of any nation and several vaccines in the final phase of testing. Vital medical relief was passed to equip our hospitals with the resources needed to keep patients, doctors, nurses and medical staff safe. Thanks to these innovations and the greatest doctors and nurses in the world we have dropped the mortality rate from 4 percent to 0.4 percent

The federal government took immediate action to help fend off economic turmoil. The Paycheck Protection Program saved Kansas jobs and businesses. Unemployment insurance benefits were enriched, and $1200 stimulus checks were sent to American families. Strong American ingenuity kicked into high gear and we rapidly manufactured PPE and millions of tests. The action of the federal government helped avoid economic catastrophe and saved lives.

However, there is still more to do: $100 billion in funding from the Paycheck Protection Program still hasn’t been utilized. I have introduced a plan to use these funds to provide another round of relief for small businesses with 10 employees or less. Meanwhile, House Democrats continue to push for trillions in spending to fund pet projects— not real relief. The Democrats still refuse to pass liability protections, funding for vaccines and additional aid for schools. Senate Democrats blocked a bill that would have brought relief to folks right here in Kansas. That’s unacceptable — and it’s exactly why Kansans are fed up with Washington antics.

Jason Buckley (Libertarian)

The FDA should never have blocked testing at the start of the pandemic. No level of government should kill the economy by shutting down and killing businesses.









Tomorrow, we will publish the U.S. Senate candidates’ responses to item #4 on our questionnaire: 

The United States currently spends more per capita on healthcare costs than any developed country — yet our citizens’ health outcomes continue to lag, with rates of obesity and chronic disease much higher than our peers. What does the U.S. need to do to lower its healthcare spending and improve healthcare outcomes for its residents? Should universal health insurance be a priority and, if so, what form should that take?