Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News
With parts of Europe already relaxing restrictions and a growing number of Americans willing to return to normal as the threat of COVID appears to be subsiding, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell took to the Senate floor Wednesday with a message: the emergency has to end.
In a lengthy speech, Sen. McConnell (R-Ky.) wondered aloud when enough would be enough.
“The virus appears to be heading endemic,” McConnell said. “Seventy percent of Americans agree with the statement, ‘it’s time we accept that COVID is here to stay, and we just need to get on with our lives.’ It is time for the state of emergency to wind down.”
In what might come as a shock to some, given the administration’s stance on mandates and state-level Democrats’ preference for stricter measures, McConnell received tacit endorsement from White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.
“[The] president’s view is that we’re not going to live like this forever; we don’t want to live like this forever,” Psaki said in her Wednesday press briefing. “And our objective and our goal is on ending this pandemic as we know it today so we don’t have it — it is — so it’s not something that’s disrupting our daily lives.”
That McConnell found a sympathetic ear in the executive branch is not surprising. McConnell is both a longtime colleague of President Joe Biden and proponent of (voluntary) vaccination.
With the Biden administration largely being reduced to encouraging vaccinations after the majority of its mandates were shot down, McConnell’s desire to end restrictions was an opinion Biden’s staff could safely endorse.
“[We] understand the sentiment that I think he’s expressing, even if I haven’t seen the full context,” Psaki said. “We’re of course looking at, when the time comes, what it will mean to end the pandemic as we know it today. But right now, what our focus is on is ensuring we’re implementing the tools that we know that work as we’re still continuing to fight the virus.”
In his speech, McConnell did not let Democrats off easy. He accused his political opponents of engendering an atmosphere in which people who wish to return to something resembling normalcy are treated as criminals.
“For goodness’ sake, nearly 60 percent of partisan Democrats told one survey they’d support placing unvaccinated people under a form of house arrest,” McConnell said. “A supermajority of Americans oppose that absurd idea, but most Democrats say they’d support it.”
McConnell restated his complaints about “heavy-handed mandates” and vaccine passports, especially given the comparatively milder nature of the Omicron variant:
Consider if this variant were its own separate virus that we were just meeting for the first time, without the scar tissue from the prior two years. Nobody would accept anywhere near this much disruption to fight the virus that we are actually facing now.
Democrats have seen a growing loss of supporters on the matter of COVID mandates and restrictions. Most recently, comedian Bill Maher evoked the anger of more ardently compliant celebrities, among them Whoopi Goldberg, when he announced he was “over” COVID and the “masked paranoid world” that had emerged in its wake.