Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday ridiculed President Biden’s suggestion that the public wait until July 4 to have “small” gatherings outdoors — saying its unscientific and reveals Biden’s ignorance of current social practices.
McConnell said it was “bizarre and problematic” for Biden to use a prime-time speech Thursday to urge people to wait until Independence Day to have small backyard parties as COVID-19 infections decline.
“This strange proclamation was out of step with science… The president went on national TV to move the goalposts way beyond what his own CDC is saying,” McConnell (R-Ky.) said on the Senate floor.
“The president’s proclamation was far out of step with what’s already happening across the country. It was advice for an alternate universe. The president and his advisers may need to get out more,” McConnell said.
“Americans are already getting together in small groups outdoors in blue states and red states, in small towns and big cities. The country is not locked down waiting for July 4,” McConnell said.
The Senate Republican leader is a childhood polio survivor and was an early advocate of mask-wearing during the pandemic. But he said Biden must recognize that science confirms that vaccines work and that there’s much lower risk of viral transmission outdoors.
McConnnell noted that “here in the District of Columbia, as of next week outdoor gatherings of up to 50 people will be permitted.”
“Americans are getting vaccines and they learned about this disease. They’ve learned about the low risk of outdoor transmission. They’re making their own determinations as free people,” McConnell said.
“I’ve been a very consistent advocate for following the science, wearing a mask and taking precautions. I believe we should all keep following the science. Nobody wants to follow a ball on the five yard line. But that doesn’t mean just citizens. It means politicians too. And science doesn’t just only run in the direction of more restriction.”
McConnell said that the public “rose to the occasion” to accept temporary social disruption during the pandemic, but that it is time return to normalcy.
“One year on, if the president and his administration want to continue to give advice to free citizens, I suggest they exit the alternate universe, stick to the actual science and get acquainted with where the American people actually are,” McConnell said.