Congressman Jody Hice on the country’s response to COVID-19


AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – The Means Report continues to place a focus on the Coronavirus and the government’s response to it. Also, what about China? When did they first know about this virus? Did they withhold information that might’ve helped our nation’s response? And certainly communities uniting, Georgia and South Carolina, everybody showing their true colors to try to get through this. Congressman Jody Hice of Georgia’s 10th District is the special guest.

Brad Means: Congressman Hice, I appreciate you taking time to be with us today, and hope that all was well with you and your family.

Rep. Jody Hice: Yeah, thank you. All is well, and it’s just a great honor to be with you. I appreciate all that you do and hope you are likewise doing well.

Brad Means: Thank you so much, congressman. First question, do you all, lawmakers, know anything different about this virus than what’s being shared with the general public?

Rep. Jody Hice: No, we really don’t. We do have regular conference calls, updates every day from multiple sources. And I mean every day we’re having a lot of different conference calls with everyone from FEMA, to the White House frequently, to our own party, to all members of Congress. So we have a lot of communication, but there is nothing new that is not being let out to the general public. I mean, we are all in this together. It seems to be pretty much a moving target and we’re watching it. Fortunately things seem to be going relatively well. I think we’re seeing declining numbers in New York. The models that first were presented are nowhere near the numbers that we’re experiencing in terms of fatalities and so forth. So it looks to me that we’re seeing some good numbers overall, but no new information that the general public is not aware of.

Brad Means: Congressman, what about the way that Georgia is responding to it so far, from your vantage point? I’ll be honest with you, the streets seem crowded still and maybe those folks are making essential runs. How do you think the peach state’s responding so far?

Rep. Jody Hice: Well, I think it’s a responding well. I mean, given the numbers that we are seeing here in Georgia, again, it’s pretty encouraging, as we’re seeing other parts of the country being hit pretty hard. Georgia, so far has not been hit that hard by comparison, and so I’m very grateful for that. Brad, I think that the struggle that all of us have as a nation, in a pandemic such as this, is the shutting down of our economy. It’s very difficult to do that and the shutting down of many of our basic freedoms, from going to church, to going to work, to just getting out of the house and doing recreational things that we like to do. Those are the types of things that are a struggle with this and that will probably be somewhat difficult to reengage after we get on the other side of this thing.

Brad Means: Yeah, it feels so unusual. It just goes against everything we as Georgians and Americans are used to and that is to be out and about and moving and working. Having said that, can you look ahead and see when you … I don’t want you to break out the crystal ball, but when do you think we might start to begin to feel a sense of normalcy again?

Rep. Jody Hice: Yeah, I think it’s going to be sooner than later, to be very honest with you. The president is already putting together a task force to re-engage our economy and to get people back to work. We’re seeing right here in our own state, the Masters has announced as you well know that they’re moving forward in November. I mean, all of us are ready to get back to work. We need to get back to work. I mean, our lives depend on a thriving economy and so we’ve got to get back to normal or as close to normal as quickly as possible and I just think we’re getting very close to that point, where I believe it will probably be in phases, and I don’t know exactly what that would look like, but I think it’s not just going to be a turn on the switch and all of a sudden everyone tries to go back to normal, but I do believe it’ll be somewhat in phases that we see businesses and different industries, jump back into the marketplace and gradually in a relatively short time, we’ll see pretty much everyone re-engage and I believe that’s going to happen in the next couple of weeks, if not sooner.

Brad Means: Well, that’d be wonderful news, and let me just say this very quickly. If you need to drink anything, water or juice or anything, during this interview, you feel free and I’m going to feel free to do it on my end because as you know

Rep. Jody Hice: In Monroe, Georgia. The pollen is crazy right now.

Brad Means: It’s a killer right now. You’re to spend 30 minutes with me.

Rep. Jody Hice: Well, thank you.

Brad Means:  Absolutely. Do you think … Let’s go back to that virus. Do you think that this virus was created as some sort of weapon?

Rep. Jody Hice: Yeah, I’ve not seen any evidence of that, so it would be just pure speculation to go down that path. Everything I’m hearing, it started in the wet market place in Wuhan, China, and so, so far as I know that is accurate. The point is, China was negligent in informing the rest of the world when this thing broke out and they’ve not been honest with the numbers and so forth since then as well. And of course we have all watched a battle take place between the United States and China. In fact, them trying to actually accuse the American military as starting this whole thing and that it started with us and we gave it to them. So we’ve got this battle going on, a dishonesty that the Chinese have played in their propaganda machine from the very beginning. I think that is really the issue right now that we’ve got to deal with, and at the end of the day, I believe that there will be some repercussions for China. They have miserably handled this and the world has suffered as a result.

Brad Means: What are those repercussions going to look like? Is this going to change our relationship with that nation forever?

Rep. Jody Hice: That is a really great question, Brad, we’ll have to see what kind of outcome we have in our relationship with China. The bottom line, we all know, China is not a friend of the United States. We have a lot of economic partnerships, if you will, where we trade back and forth a lot of things, but at the end of the day, China wants to destroy the United States’ economy. They have been very clear in that attempt, they are not a friend. And the way they have handled this pandemic has given further evidence to that reality. And so there will be some sort of response. China in one way or another needs to be, and I believe will be held accountable for what they have inflicted on the entire world as a result of this. What that looks like at this point, I can’t tell you, we’re hearing just beginning discussions of some possibilities, but at the end of the day, right now, it would be pure speculation for me to interject what I believe those measures or retaliation would look like.

Brad Means: If we see a product that says, made in China, on it, when we’re allowed to go back to the stores or when we’re surfing the internet, should we try not to buy it?

Rep. Jody Hice: Hey listen, as a personal thing, I always try to buy American made and or made by allies of the United States, but that’s a personal thing. I believe now is a good time for people to take those type of things into consideration. Unfortunately, China is a hotbed of manufacturing for tons of products that we use in the United States, and so the, made in China, label is probably still going to be out there. But I think if nothing else, I believe this is a valid point for us all to look at. One thing that we have learned from this pandemic, is that we should no longer depend on China to manufacture the things that we need in this country, particularly when it comes to healthcare and some of those viable issues that have been highlighted through this pandemic. We need to make our own face masks, we need our PPEs from every direction and much of the pharmaceuticals that we use. So I think if nothing else, we’re going to see a major shift in the United States to where we begin manufacturing these things rather than relying on China in the future.

Brad Means: Don’t you think that that independence from China can happen pretty quickly? We’ve already seen American companies making masks and PPE. Can we do more of that stuff for ourselves soon?

Rep. Jody Hice: Yeah, I think it can happen quickly and quite frankly, I think it will happen quickly because the United States and businesses here, as well as individuals, have seen just how harmful it has been on our country because of the inability for us to get our hands on basic needs that we’ve had during this crisis and China has been the problem. And so I think there’s a motivation. There’s reason for companies right now to be inspired and motivated and incentivized to begin manufacturing many of these things here in the United States. So I think absolutely, yes we can, but underneath that, I believe, yes, we will, because of what we have seen take place from this, we don’t want that to happen, and I believe companies are motivated to make sure that that will never happen again.

Brad Means: When The Means Report continues, our conversation continues with Congressman Jody Hice. We’re going to take a look at impeachment, remember that? From way back when. And the impact it may have had on the nation’s response to this virus. Also the Congressman’s thoughts on Nancy Pelosi and her desire to have oversight on the way that the stimulus money is being spent. In a moment.

Brad Means: Welcome back to The Means Report. Our special guest is 10th district Congressman Jody Hice, from the great state of Georgia. Congressman Hice, I want to talk to you about America’s response to the virus, as we did during our first segment, but especially as it relates to impeachment. Do you think impeachment impeded our ability to respond to this virus?

Rep. Jody Hice: Oh, absolutely, I think it did it. It had us totally distracted for months and months and months, and of course, nothing came to. What bothers me is this all starting over again. The Democrats under the leadership of Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff, yet again, are attempting to use this whole coronavirus as a second attack against the president. So I believe we’re about to see impeachment 2.0 take place. But yes, it was a major distraction.

Brad Means: You know, you are on the house oversight committee, you have seniority there, but now the speaker wants to create her own oversight committee to look at the way the $2 trillion stimulus package is being spent. My guess is you don’t agree with that.

Rep. Jody Hice: I totally disagree with that. We already have a committee that is in the middle of all this and we don’t need … And you know what? What really is revealing to me about this Brad, is that the whole way, speaker Polosi is moving with this, underscores the fact that this has zero to do with oversight, in her opinion. It’s all about politics. It’s all partisan politics to go after the president. Look who she wants to put as the head of this particular oversight committee, is none other than Clyburn, who himself has clearly been vocal on stating that this crisis is pandemic, is an opportunity for the Democrats to restructure America and that things that take place here in order to advance a Democrat agenda. And yet she’s putting him in charge of the oversight. This is nothing but a political move. To me it’s absolutely shameful. We already have an oversight committee that has jurisdiction over what’s happening right now, and we need to let that committee do the work that it is been assigned and that it has jurisdiction to do.

Brad Means: When it comes down to it though, what do you expect in the next few months regarding this oversight effort by speaker Pelosi? They have the numbers to push it through, don’t they?

Rep. Jody Hice: Oh, of course they do have the numbers, being in the majority, but we’ll make a lot of noise about it. There’s no doubt because their motive has already been clearly given away. They played their cards, they laid their cards on the table before they even started going down this path. And so we know that this is not about oversight, it’s about utilizing this opportunity to attack the president. Look, this is no time. We’re dealing with a healthcare crisis in our country that now has turned into an economic crisis, and this is not the time to be playing political games and to be trying to utilize a desperate situation in our country to attack the president. That is, in my opinion, it’s unAmerican. It’s uncalled for, it’s not the right thing to do at a time like this. This is a time for us to come together. This pandemic and our economy is not a red or a blue issue. It is a red, white and blue issue, and all of us need to gather around this and work together as Americans for the best interest of our country, not for our individual political party.

Brad Means: Why do we see things, congressman, why do we see things in the stimulus package like money for the performing arts or money for the Kennedy Center? Are those just components of the package that have to be in there to get the votes to pass it or do those parts of our society need that money to beat the virus?

Rep. Jody Hice: No, those, really, I don’t know that either is the issue there. Obviously you saw the Cares Act passed unanimously in the Senate and by voice vote in the house. It certainly did not need to be loaded up with a bunch of pork in order to pass, it was going to pass. This is nothing other than an attempt from Nancy Pelosi and her crowd to appease and to help advance those who help her, and, or to advance her political liberal agenda. And again, it’s uncalled for. It makes it very difficult. And I would say that’s probably the number one issue that I’ve heard from constituents throughout the 10th district as so far as it relates to the Cares Act, is that they’re just upset, and it was filled with so much non-necessary things. Look, this Cares Act started. If you remember, Brad, it started at about 800 billion and it passes at 2.3 trillion. I mean, that’s the type of thing that we’re looking at where these things just swell, and they get bigger and bigger and bigger, and you can’t spend $2.3 trillion without having good stuff in there. I mean, you can’t spend that money without having good stuff. But neither can you spend that kind of money without having a lot of unnecessary stuff in there, and that’s where there’s … It’s just uncalled for. We don’t have this kind of money to be spending on unnecessary things. We’re already $23 trillion in debt before that, now we’re in excess of 25 rapidly approaching $26 trillion. We just cannot continue down this type of unsustainable path in terms of our national debt. So as we approach emergencies, funding needs to be very specifically focused to address the emergency, not political agendas.

Brad Means: I know that a lot of lawmakers, a lot of you all are friends, Democrats and Republicans, or at least you have pleasant relationships outside of politics. Do you ever have a chance, Congressman Hice, to run into Congressman Clyburn or Speaker Pelosi and express just in a friendly way, some of the concerns that you’ve expressed on this broadcast? And if you have, what did they say back to you?

Rep. Jody Hice: Well, we’ve actually not been able to have those conversations since all this came about, because we’ve not been in Washington since the vote. And so since speaker Pelosi has gone forward saying she wants a special committee and the oversight, all that has happened somewhat in a vacuum while we’ve not been in DC. But yes, she is certainly hearing from us, from our Twitter pages, from different messaging opportunities and avenues that we have. And she’s not only hearing from me, she’s hearing from a ton of people and media outlets and so forth. A lot of people are talking about this and the not only the fact that it’s unnecessary, but it’s abusive to utilize a crisis. But we all heard in the past, this is a method that Democrats use to never let a good crisis go to waste, and they’re certainly attempting to maintain that basic philosophy in this pandemic, unfortunately so.

Brad Means: They say a crisis will reveal a lot about a person or people. What have you seen revealed from your fellow Georgians when you’ve gone back to the district, back to this state and seeing how they’re responding?

Rep. Jody Hice: Yeah, that’s really … I’m so glad you brought that up because you’re right. When we have an emergency in this country, Americans come together, we work together. We saw it in 9/11. We’ve seen it with the various wars and emergencies, be it hurricanes or earthquakes or fires or whatever. Americans come together when there’s an emergency. And I look across the 10th district right now. Goodness. There’s a pharmacy in Lincoln County that’s making hand sanitizer and delivering it to health care professionals and law enforcement. We have in Columbia County, right there, a number of businesses and churches and organizations, who are coming together to help make sure that kids working in cooperation with the school district, make sure kids have meals. Oconee County, we have the sheriff’s department, who are delivering groceries and delivering medical needs to those who are most vulnerable and shut down. So you see things like this. We have folks right here in the county where I’m in right now, in Walton County, who are literally feeding thousands of people every day and giving free medical care to people every day. And to see these types of things is so inspiring. It’s so absolutely remarkable to see the good hearted people of America and of Georgia in the 10th district, stand up, get in the gap, get in the game and help their fellow citizens at times of crisis. It is nothing shy of absolutely inspiring.

Brad Means: Wait is absolutely beautiful to see the response all across this state in this country. Couple of very quick questions. First of all, we know that you’re pastor Jody Hice, in addition to Congressman Jody Hice, tell me about your feelings on not being able to go to church Easter Sunday.

Rep. Jody Hice: It’s been a real struggle. Not only on Easter Sunday, but every Sunday. That’s been one of these big struggles internally for me, and I believe for many other Americans that we’re living at a time where our government has actually said local, state, and federal, across the board, that you can’t go to church, you can’t worship together and pray together. I mean, that’s a big First Amendment hurdle to overcome, and this whole pandemic has brought forth some major challenges, be it the First Amendment, Second Amendment, Fourth Amendment of privacy and so forth. So it’s a struggle, but at the same time it’s encouraging to see how churches have utilized technology to continue reaching out. And I know my church and a Bible study class that I participate in every week, we’re seeing more and more and more people participate through use of the technology than we had even in person. So it’s a good thing. I just am so grateful though for Easter, what it means to me personally and the fact that our Lord is alive. We have a God who is here right now to help us and never besides times like this do we need that knowledge more than right now. And it’s a great encouragement to me.

Brad Means: Congressman Hice, we learned a few days ago that the Augusta National Golf Club is going to try to do the Masters in November. That’s great news, isn’t it great.

Rep. Jody Hice: Great, great news. I can’t wait to be there.

Brad Means: Yeah, we’re looking forward to it too, and I can’t thank you enough for taking time out of your day to be with us again. I wish you the best and happy early birthday. You got a big one coming up.

Rep. Jody Hice: I got a big one, boy, I’m turning 60. It just doesn’t seem right, but yeah, coming up here in just a few days. Thank you for your birthday wishes. I appreciate that. Maybe you need to send me a cane or something. Well, we will and hopefully you’re 61st, next year, will be under more normal circumstances.

Brad Means: I hope so. Congressman, thank you so much. You take care.

Rep. Jody Hice: My pleasure, thank you. You too.

Brad Means: Absolutely. Congressman Jody Hice of Georgia’s 10th congressional district.

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The Means Report first aired in January of 2009 offering coverage that you cannot get from a daily newscast. Forget about quick soundbytes -- we deliver an in-depth perspective on the biggest stories. If they are making news on the local or national level, you will find them on the set of The Means Report. Hosted by WJBF NewsChannel 6 anchor, Brad Means, The Means Report covers the topics impacting your life, your town, your state, and your future.