This year, 4th of July celebrations across America will be different. Different in that many of us will not be able to gather around the grill with all our friends and family, different in that we will have to observe social distancing to watch our kids and grandkids set off fireworks in the yard, and different in that those we love and who suffer from underlying health conditions may not even be able to attend. Yet it didn’t have to be this way. While no one could have predicted COVID-19 and how the ensuing events would play out, we know this for certain: China lied, Americans died— and our world, at least for the time being, has changed.
This change has shown us that now, more than ever, regaining our independence is crucial.
No, I do not mean regaining independence as our forefathers did by breaking away from an overbearing monarchy in 1776, but effectively regaining our economic independence through smart policy, like my ‘Great American Comeback’ economic recovery plan, and correcting weaknesses that COVID-19 revealed. Since coming to Congress, never would I have imagined a worldwide pandemic, closely followed by the breakout of an economic storm, threatening our health, our economy, and our way of life. Yet when it did, I did what we Americans do best – adapt, grow and effectively act under the most adverse of circumstances.
The first step is holding those responsible accountable. This is why I cosponsored H.R. 6405, the China Government COVID-19 Accountability Act, which directs President Trump to develop and carry out a strategy to get China to reimburse the U.S. Government for funds made available to address the spread of the virus. To ensure Americans who lost loved ones can hold China liable, I also cosponsored H.R. 6519, the Holding the Chinese Communist Party Accountable for Infecting American Acts of 2020, which would allow Americans harmed by COVID-19 to directly sue China for damages. While no monetary damages can ever replace a loved one, holding these two parties accountable is the right first step.
The second step is learning the lessons revealed by COVID-19. For example, a significant number of antibiotics or their ingredients used in the U.S. are made abroad (reported to be as high as 80%), including in China. I believe it is in our long-term interest to bring critical industries, including drug manufacturing, back to our country. This would boost our economy while also strengthening our national security. To do this, I cosponsored H.R. 6393, the Strengthening America’s Supply Chain and National Security Act, to ensure our nation is adequately prepared should another pandemic hit our shores.
These measures will serve to put China on notice that America will no longer be taken advantage of, a pillar in President Trump’s doctrine of "America First." Our country has faced perilous times before, and this is certainly one of them. Yet, as certain as I am this 4th will be different, I know we will fight and win against COVID-19, regaining our normalcy, independence and economic prosperity.
Happy 4th of July!
Rep. Ross Spano represents Florida’s 15th District in the U.S. House of Representatives. He currently serves on the House Small Business and House Transportation & Infrastructure Committees.