Capitol Correspondence - 05.05.20

Shake-up in Administration Team Handling Coronavirus Response

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ANCOR is following top leadership on the COVID-19 response so our members can stay informed of the decision-making process surrounding these policies. As reported by Politico Pulse:

“JOE GROGAN IS LEAVING THE WHITE HOUSE — Trump’s top domestic policy adviser will resign next month, after playing a key role in the administration’s health agenda and coronavirus response.

Grogan’s departure comes after more than a year as head of the White House Domestic Policy Council, where he emerged as an influential player in the administration’s efforts to slash drug prices and ban “surprise” medical bills. ‘On the side, Joe somehow found the bandwidth to shepherd transformative executive orders on Medicare, price transparency, kidney care, and flu vaccines,’ said Abe Sutton, who worked with Grogan at the White House.

Grogan had also been closely involved in the coronavirus response — a pandemic that he told PULSE he believes will be largely under control by the time he exits in late May.

‘Around Memorial Day weekend is when I think we’ll be bottoming out on cases,’ Grogan said. The Wall Street Journal first reported Grogan’s departure.”

Meanwhile – Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar remains safe in his position: “The president dismissed a question about why his embattled health secretary said three months ago that Covid-19 wasn’t set to affect the day-to-day lives of Americans. […]

Trump on Sunday had tweeted that Azar was doing a ‘great job’ after multiple reports by POLITICO and other news outlets that White House officials were weighing a plan to replace him.”

Keeping track of the broader Administration strategy amidst these changes: As reported by Politico Pulse:

“The administration’s ‘Stay at Home’ guidelines are due to expire today, leaving it to the states to make a series of high-stakes decisions that risk prolonging the pandemic, POLITICO’s Joanne Kenen reports. The shift comes as the U.S. death toll continues to rise, along with the case count in nearly half of states.

— The CDC has laid out a set of recommendations to guide them. But they aren’t binding, and they aren’t all that specific. As the national effort is ‘fading out,’ there remain widespread worries that states haven’t been adequately equipped with the testing and surveillance systems needed to handle the crisis on their own.

— Yet it’s emblematic of the White House’s response effort. Trump has spent much of the nation’s 100 days at war with the coronavirus seeking an exit strategy, POLITICO’s Adam Cancryn reports. And now he’s shifting focus away from the public health response and toward an economic rebuild, despite no sense of how close the U.S. is to victory — or what ‘winning’ even looks like.”