As the COVID-19 pandemic escalated into a global emergency, and particularly in recent weeks as even many political conservatives in the United States began to take the crisis seriously, Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado emerged as a national symbol of opposition to both public health orders to control the spread and stimulus spending to soften the blow to the economy–spending, we should add, that even Colorado’s highest-ranking Republican Sen. Cory Gardner has eagerly embraced. Buck also harshly criticized the stay-at-home order issued in Colorado by Gov. Jared Polis, contributing to a climate of misguided “resistance” that directly contravenes the work being done to control the spread of the coronavirus in Colorado.
Well folks, sometime between when Rep. Buck said it’s “craziness to shut down businesses” and yesterday, he appears to have found the epidemiological equivalent of religion! In a letter to Vice President Mike Pence and the White House Coronavirus Task Force, an immeasurably more contrite Ken Buck lavishes praise on the Trump administration’s handling of the pandemic–after decrying just a few weeks ago that “we have no leader” in rare (and not wholly misplaced) criticism of Donald Trump:
I write to thank you for your continued leadership as the head of the Coronavirus Task Force. Under your direction, the Task Force has assembled the best and brightest minds to help our nation defeat the coronavirus (COVID-19) and provide sound guidance to the American people. In this vein, I urge the Coronavirus Task Force to develop and distribute clear, concise sanitation guidelines to ensure American businesses can safely and confidently re-open as soon as possible. [Pols emphasis]
Current federal guidance to combat COVID-19 in the workplace is limited and generically focused on stopping the immediate spread of the virus, not sterilizing businesses before reopening to the public. Additionally, varying reports detailing how long COVID-19 can live on different surfaces and what types of cleaning solutions are most effective at killing the virus add confusion as businesses contemplate restarting operations. One thing is clear, one-size-fits-all guidelines will not work for every industry in America. Main Street businesses need expert help to ensure the safety of their employees and customers as they reopen for business.
Establishing clear guidelines now will also give manufacturers and suppliers time to build critical supply chains to distribute these needed materials and give businesses confidence before reopening their doors. [Pols emphasis] Furthermore, these guidelines will help ensure that the $700 million provided in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act to clean federal workplaces is not being wasted…
How can this be the same Ken Buck? Buck voted against the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act–which leaves him less than entitled to complain about how the money is spent. But before we even assess that, we need to hear Ken Buck explain his much more fundamental change of heart about businesses “reopening” their doors.
Because if you’ll recall, Ken Buck never believed those doors should be closed.
Are we glad Rep. Buck has shifted from condemning the closure of non-essential business to hoping businesses get really strong cleaning products “before reopening their doors?” Every responsible person should be, not least the beleaguered residents of Buck’s own Weld County.
What Buck doesn’t get to do, or any other Republican eating their poorly-aged words today, is to take their irresponsible naysaying at a moment it was least needed back. And if Buck’s newfound concern doesn’t play at least as widely as his votes and prior statements, that’s yet another travesty.