WASHINGTON — The coronavirus pandemic is still killing more than 1,000 Americans a day, but don’t tell that to Republican state legislators — that might get in the way of their travel plans. A breaking news report from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution revealed GOP leaders gathered for an in-person retreat hosted by the Republican State Leadership Committee in Georgia, a coronavirus hotspot. Instead of focusing on the issues facing their constituents, like the pandemic or record unemployment, these legislators will spend their afternoons golfing, clay shooting, and having brunch on the beach. Apparently, schmoozing with lobbyists is still a number one priority for Republicans across the country.
Listed attendees at the RSLC retreat include:
- Senate President Karen Fann (AZ)
- House Judiciary Committee Chairman Paul Renner (FL)
- House Majority Whip Trey Kelley (GA)
- House Speaker Pat Grassley (IA)
- Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver (IA)
- House Speaker Lee Chatfield (MI)
- Representative Brandt Iden (MI)
- House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt (MN)
- Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger (NC)
- House Speaker Tim Moore (NC)
- Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (PA)
A recent White House report warned that Georgia’s management of the pandemic was falling behind the rest of the country. The state’s bungled response is perhaps the greatest manifestation of Republican attitudes to the crisis, with GOP leaders rushing to reopen the state before it was safe and refusing to institute basic public health restrictions that could save lives. The state has recorded over 240,000 cases and 5,000 deaths due to the coronavirus.
But Georgia isn’t alone among Republican-led states where leaders have looked the other way instead of fighting to get the pandemic under control. Florida and Arizona too rushed to reopen, leading to massive spikes in cases and deaths this summer. And if that weren’t bad enough, while Iowans are still dealing with the fallout from severe storms that ravaged the eastern part of the state, top Republicans in the state decided to spend their time on the other side of the country.
“Millions of Americans are struggling during this pandemic, but Republican legislative leaders still managed to throw public health practices out the window to travel and attend an in-person retreat,” said Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee President Jessica Post. “Their decision was irresponsible, callous, and could contribute to the spread of coronavirus.They may want to pretend otherwise, but we’re still in the middle of a crisis — and we’re going to make sure their constituents know how they decided to spend their time.”