Rep. Greg Steube: ‘Chinese Government Should Pay for the Impact That They’ve Had on the United States’

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(Photo by JONATHAN ERNST/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

(Photo by JONATHAN ERNST/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

(CNSNews.com) – Rep. Greg Steube (R.-Fla.) is calling for the U.S. government to hold the communist government of the People’s Republic of China financially responsible for not dealing honestly with the rest of the world at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which began in Wuhan, China.

He has introduced the “Chinese Government COVID-19 Accountability Act” to achieve this purpose.

As explained in its summary, this bill “directs the president to develop and carry out a strategy to get China’s government to reimburse the U.S. government for funds made available to address COVID-19.

“We know for a fact that they were not honest with not only us, but the world,” Steube said in an “Online With Terry Jeffrey” interview.

“They fed the WHO misinformation, especially in the beginning, about person-to-person spread of the virus,” he said, “and we know for a fact that they withheld information for weeks, if not months, from the world knowing, and then allowed their people from Wuhan during the Chinese New Year to travel all over the world and infect all of the world knowing that the virus was there and present and failed to notify not just the United States, but the WHO and the world.”

“Obviously the economic impact of what has occurred to our country due to this pandemic is astronomical,” said Steube.

“The government alone has spent trillions and trillions of dollars to try to buoy up our economy during this downturn when the governments are telling people to stay home and telling businesses to shut down,” he said. “So [there’s] not only the economic toll from a business perspective, but then you have the human toll of the loss of life that could have been completely prevented had they put safeguards in place to ensure that those people infected in Wuhan didn’t go all across the world and infect the rest of the world from this virus.

“It could have been contained there,” he said.

“I actually filed a bill that would allow the president to negotiate some type of payment, whether that be through a trade agreement, whether that be through the debt that they hold for us, the interest on that debt,” Steube said of his proposal.

“It gives the president the ability to negotiate that, but absolutely the Chinese government should pay for the impact that they’ve had on the United States,” he said.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that the initial cases of COVID-19 in the United States occurred in people who had recently returned from Wuhan, China. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has stated that not only did the virus start in Wuhan, China, but that the Chinese government covered it up.

“Nine of the first 11 U.S. COVID-nCoV patients were exposed in Wuhan, China,” the CDC said in the “Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report” of Feb. 7, 2020.

The other two cases out of the first eleven, according to the MMWR, occurred in people who lived in the same household as one of the nine who had been exposed in Wuhan.

On the March 24, 2020 edition of “Washington Watch with Tony Perkins,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said:

‘[T]his virus began in Wuhan, China. There’s no doubt about where it began. Indeed, the Chinese Communist Party itself acknowledged that that’s where the virus began.  And unfortunately, the Chinese Communist Party covered this up and delayed its response in a way that has truly put thousands of lives at risk.”

On Feb. 1, the New York Times published a story under the headline: “As New Coronavirus Spread, China’s Old Habits Delayed Fight.”

“The government’s initial handling of the epidemic allowed the virus to gain a tenacious hold,” the Times reported. “At critical moments, officials chose to put secrecy and order ahead of openly confronting the growing crisis to avoid public alarm and political embarrassment.”

“In those weeks, the authorities silenced doctors and others for raising red flags,” said the Times. “They played down the dangers to the public, leaving the city’s [Wuhan’s] 11 million residents unaware they should protect themselves.”

“By not moving aggressively to warn the public and medical professionals, public health experts say, the Chinese government lost one of its best chances to keep the disease from becoming and epidemic,” reported the Times.

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Here is a full transcript of the July 1, 2020 “Online With Terry Jeffrey” interview with Rep. Greg Steube”

Terry Jeffrey: “Hi, welcome to this edition of Online with Terry Jeffrey. Our guest today is Congressman Greg Steube of Florida. Congressman Steube, a fifth generation Floridian, graduated from the University of Florida and the University of Florida Law School. He enlisted in the United States Army and served in Iraq in 2006-2007 as a chief of detainee operations for Multinational Division North. He served for eight years in the Florida House and Senate, before being elected to the U.S. Congress in 2018. He now serves on the House Judiciary Committee, the Committee on Oversight and Reform, and the Veterans’ Affairs Committee. Congressman thanks for doing this interview.”

Rep. Greg Steube: “Yeah, thanks for having me. I appreciate it.”

Jeffrey: “On May of last year, the House Judiciary Committee took up the Equality Act, which according to the summary of that act, ‘prohibits discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity in a wide variety of areas including public accommodations and facilities, education, federal funding, employment, housing, credit, and the jury system.’

“The summary goes on to say that the bill also prohibits ‘an individual from being denied access to a shared facility, including a restroom, a locker room, a dressing room, that is in accordance with the individual’s gender identity.’ In that meeting of the Judiciary Committee last year, you offered an amendment to that bill. Can you tell us what that amendment did and what happened to it?”

Steube: “We wanted to obviously protect women’s sports and protect Title IX funding that go to women’s sports. What that bill also did is redefine the definition of a woman, so it isn’t actually a biological woman anymore. So obviously if that bill were to pass and become law, any person who identifies as a woman, whether they are male biologically or not, could compete in women’s athletics, not just at the high-school level but at the collegiate level.

“So, you would have biological males–and I’m sure people have seen the reports of this being talked about across the country–where you have biological males competing with biological females in women’s athletic events and winning those events and even getting scholarships for themselves. And women are not getting scholarships because biological men are competing in their sports and getting those scholarships. So, I filed an amendment in the committee. I also filed it on the floor, when the bill was on the floor, that would make it clear that Title IX would be protected, that women’s sports would be protected, and that only biological women could compete in those sports.”

Jeffrey: “And what happened to the amendment?”

Steube: “The amendment was obviously not adopted in the Judiciary Committee. All the Democrats voted against it. All the Republicans voted for it. I then filed that amendment again on the floor. I don’t believe there were any Democrats–if there were, there were only a couple of Democrats on the floor–that voted for the amendment. And obviously it didn’t get adopted.

“So, obviously the bill is not going to become law because it is not going to go through the Senate. But if the majority, the Democratic majority had their way, any person that would identify as a woman, and it could even be that day, it could be they identify this way one day, they identify this way another day, they could compete one day and not other days. So, it’s actually very troubling. And if you have a daughter, or if you are a female that competes in female athletics, I would think you would have grave concerns about your daughters competing with biological men on the field.”

Jeffrey: “I wanted to ask you about that definition of gender identity in this bill. You’ve talked about it. If I understand correctly, I mean, literally, if the Equality Act were to become law, a person whose DNA and anatomy, their biology said they’re a male, they could be a male on Tuesday, tell their school, the government, everybody, ‘I am a male,’ and then on Wednesday they could say, ‘no, I am a girl,’ and the government, the schools, the sports teams, they would be forced to accept that man’s definition that he is a girl.”

Steube: “They would be forced to take his identity of how he feels that day and allow that male to participate in female sports. And the bill would even go further than that. If you were a male and that day you felt like a female and you wanted to go into a female domestic violence shelter, the shelter would be required to take you, even though you are not a female.”

Jeffrey: “Or into a locker room, or a bathroom.”

Steube: “Or a locker room, or a faith-based facility that protects women.”

Jeffrey: “So, there is not an exemption under this proposed law that would say your religious principles shielded you from having to recognize a biological male as a female?”

Steube: “No and Mr. Johnson from Louisiana actually offered that amendment to make it clear that it wouldn’t infringe upon religious liberties. And that amendment in the committee and on the floor was also not adopted. So, even if you are a faith-based institution–let’s say you are a Christian-based shelter for women to protect women who have been victims of domestic abuse–you would then be forced by this law to take in biological men who are identifying as a woman that day into your faith-based shelter, completely denying your religious liberty and your religious beliefs.”

Jeffrey: “What about a Christian school?”

Steube: “Same thing. None of that–You would not be able to deny people based on your faith.”

Jeffrey:  “So, if a Christian or a Catholic school had a student who was a male and he came in one day and said: ‘I am a female. I am going to dress as a female, act as a female, and I want to go out for the female basketball team,’ if they did anything to prevent that, or inhibit that, or discipline that male in any way, they be violating the Equality Act?”

Steube: “They would be violating the Equality Act, they would get sued, and under the language of that bill, that person would be victorious in a court of law, and that school would be forced to take him, whatever he wanted to do.”

Jeffrey: “And this is not a fantasy. As of today, there are real-life examples of biological males who are acting as females and are playing female sports and so forth?”

Steube: “Oh, I listed when I did the debate, I listed out all of those different instances that were high-profile instances that were going on at the time. You have seen the videos of biological men beating biological women in track. This is not something that we’re just talking about. This is actually happening in real life today in some of these districts in California and others that have adopted this type of law that allows biological men to compete with women.”

Jeffrey: “And Jerry Nadler and Nancy Pelosi want to make this the law of the entire nation?”

Steube: “Absolutely. It has passed pretty much on a party line vote.”

Jeffrey: “And Joe Biden supports it.”

Steube: “I would imagine he does.

Jeffrey: “He does, actually. So, you offered that amendment. It failed in the committee. It failed on the House floor. But this year, you have introduced the Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act. What would that bill do?”

Steube: “So, because we failed, obviously, to get that amendment adopted, I thought it was important to file a stand-alone bill on the issue, so that members—I mean obviously the Democratic majority and Jerry Nadler’s not going to bring that bill up for a hearing in the Judiciary Committee—but it gives the opportunity for me to say where I feel like we should be at as a country. It gives other members the ability to co-sponsor my bill to show their support for truly protecting women’s sports and ensuring that women’s sports are just that, biological women competing against biological women. So, I certainly am not optimistic that that bill would pass in this Congress, but it sets us up in a good place if the Republican majority, or if the Republicans get the House back in November, to be in a very good place coming into January when the 117th Congress takes effect, that we can move that bill through the process.

Jeffrey: “And in your bill, is the trigger receiving federal funding? In other words, does it apply to only groups that get federal funding or does it apply to all groups?”

Steube: “So, it would apply to those that receive federal funding. If they didn’t comply with that, they would lose that federal funding.

Jeffrey: “So, a private institution that declined to take any money from the federal government could follow the policy it wanted, but say a public school somewhere–or even a private school–that took federal money, they would have to follow that rule.

Steube: “Correct.”

Jeffrey: “Let’s turn to China. In 2019, the United States, according to the Census Bureau, ran a $345.6 billion merchandise trade deficit with People’s Republic of China. And that was the largest trade deficit with any nation by far. In fact, the next largest was with Mexico, which was $101.8 billion. Not even one-third of the trade deficit we ran with China. And, so far, in the first four months of this year–even with the COVID-19 pandemic spreading from China to the United States–in the first four months we ran a $76.4 billion merchandise trade deficit with China. Congressman, do we have a trade problem with Communist China?

Steube: Absolutely, and that’s why I commend the president, you know, that big change in those numbers from one year to the next, is due to the president taking a much more aggressive stance to Communist China.

“And I do think one of the things that is going to come of this pandemic is Americans now are more realizing on this issue that we can’t trust the Chinese, we can’t trust their government. Why in the world were we taking their products?

“I have an issue in my district where the USDA, for some reason, decided to import Chinese fruit. My district’s the number one citrus-producing district in the country, and now we’re going to import Chinese citrus? To me, that doesn’t make sense. I filed a bill to prevent that from happening.

“I think you’re going to see the American public be much more antagonistic to the Chinese government and to seeing that we truly have been at a complete disadvantage from a trade perspective for a very long time.”

Jeffrey: “So, Congressman, the trade agreement with China allows China to export citrus fruit to the United States in a free-trade agreement?”

Steube: “I’m assuming that’s part of it, because when the USDA made the change allowing for Chinese fruit, citrus, to be imported, I asked them through a letter to change that policy at the detriment of our own domestic farmers, especially in my district. And they refused to change that. So, instead of them changing it, I decided to file a bill. We’ve actually gotten bi-partisan support on that, there’s another Florida Democratic representative that signed onto that because we obviously value and see the importance of protecting our domestic farmers here in the United States.”

Jeffrey: “So without Congress taking any action, the Department of Agriculture essentially issued an order saying the Chinese could export citrus fruit to the United States?” 

Steube: “That’s correct. So without either a change in the agency’s direction on that issue or Congress saying we can’t take importation of Chinese citrus, it won’t change.”

Jeffrey: “Am I correct in assuming that the citrus farms in China are controlled by the communist regime in Beijing?”

Steube: “Everything in the Chinese Communist Party’s country is owned by the Chinese government.” 

Jeffrey: “So in your district in southern Florida you have, I assume, people growing lemons and oranges.”

Steube: “I’m the number one citrus-producing district in the entire country, out of 435 congressional districts. It’s mostly oranges, and those oranges are typically made for juice. So if you’re drinking orange juice, pretty good chance if it’s not obviously from Brazil or Mexico, it came from my district.”

Jeffrey: “And some of those farms, am I correct in assuming, are owned by families?”

Steube: “Oh yeah, all family farms. You’re not seeing the big conglomerates. You have bigger citrus groves, but they’re owned by individuals, not the government or big conglomerates. 

Jeffrey: “So you have family businesses—families working hard to maintain a farm, make a living, support themselves—by growing lemons and oranges in south Florida, in your district, and the Department of Agriculture made a decision to allow a communist government to sell its products in the United States in competition with the families in your community.”

Steube: “Yes sir, and that’s why I’ve been so engaged on this because I just don’t think that’s right. I don’t think we should be–especially with everything that’s going on from this pandemic–I certainly don’t think we should be putting our domestic farmers at a disadvantage by importing Chinese citrus.”

Jeffrey: “Is the Republican leadership supporting you on that?”

Steube: “I haven’t talked specifically to leadership on that specific bill, but knowing them and knowing their issues, their support of similar issues, I would imagine that they would.”

Jeffrey: “You mentioned the COVID-19 in China. And we know, it’s a fact that the COVID-19 pandemic started in Wuhan, China. Do you think the Chinese were honest with us and the rest of the world in the way they dealt with it as that disease started to spread?”

Steube: “We know for a fact that they were not honest with not only us, but the world. They fed the WHO misinformation, especially in the beginning about person-to-person spread of the virus, and we know for a fact that they withheld information for weeks, if not months, from the world knowing, and then allowed their people from Wuhan during the Chinese New Year to travel all over the world and infect all of the world knowing that the virus was there and present and failed to notify not just the United States, but the WHO and the world.”

Jeffrey: “Now the American people obviously know the tremendous impact this has had on us, people have to stay at home, they can’t go work in their office, they have to wear masks when they go out on the street and to a store. It’s been the most remarkable change in the way people live in America in my lifetime, I have to say. What price do you think the Chinese should pay and how should the U.S. government make them pay that price for their culpability in the spread of this virus?” 

Steube: “I mean obviously the economic impact of what has occurred to our country due to this pandemic is astronomical. I mean, the government alone has spent trillions and trillions of dollars to try to buoy up our economy during this downturn when the governments are telling people to stay home and telling businesses to shut down. So not only the economic toll from a business perspective, but then you have the human toll of the loss of life that could have been completely prevented had they put safeguards in place to ensure that those people infected in Wuhan didn’t go all across the world and infect the rest of the world from this virus. It could have been contained there.

“I actually filed a bill that would allow the president to negotiate some type of payment, whether that be through a trade agreement, whether that be through the debt that they hold for us, the interest on that debt. It gives the president the ability to negotiate that, but absolutely the Chinese government should pay for the impact that they’ve had on the United States.”

Jeffrey: “Congressman, the National Institutes of Health has a database, anybody can go online and look at it. It’s called the NIH RePORTER. And you can pull up the grants that the NIH has out over historical years and just restrict them to the active ones. This morning, I went on and I looked at the active grants that are being given by the National Institutes of Health to institutions in The People’s Republic of China. And I know you wouldn’t be surprised to know that there are multiple active grant programs being conducted by the National Institutes of Health, giving money to institutes in China that are controlled by the Chinese government, including the Chinese Center for Disease Control, which gets money from the NIH.

“Given the circumstances of COVID-19 and also the fact that China, according to the CIA, has the largest GDP in the world, it’s not a poor nation, should the United States, NIH, be giving money to the Chinese government to conduct medical research?”

Steube: “No, absolutely not. And I think now, certainly if the Republicans get control of the House again, I think you’re going to see those types of funding cut. Unfortunately, the Democratic majority won’t do that. But I certainly do not support it; I’m very leery of any taxpayer dollars going to foreign nations regardless of who it is, but especially to the Chinese Communist Party, who obviously is not a friend of the United States and why in the world would taxpayers be sending their money to do this type of biological research?

“It blows my mind when I found out about it. I certainly don’t think that is something that we should do, and I guarantee you if I asked those in my district in southwest Florida what they thought about it, they certainly don’t think that their tax dollars should be going to the Chinese Communist Party.

Jeffrey: “So if the Republicans take over control of the House, you would push, or promote, or support legislation to stop the NIH from funding research in China?”

Steube: “A hundred percent. Absolutely.”

Jeffrey: “Now last issue, last week the House passed the Justice in Policing Act, seeking to institute nationwide police reform. It got only three Republican votes. What was wrong with that bill?”

Steube: “There were a lot of things that were wrong with the bill. I’ll talk about the three most offensive to me. The first is qualified immunity. Qualified immunity protects an officer in a court of law if he was following his training and protocol–like what he was trained to do, in say the apprehension of a suspect or say in how someone was resisting arrest. If he follows his training and protocol, then he gets qualified immunity as a defense in a court of law.

“Now if you’re a law enforcement officer and you operate outside your training and protocol, then you don’t get it; that’s why it’s called qualified immunity.

“So, the Democrats wanted to take that away from our officers. So, you’re basically telling officers, even though you follow your training and protocol and you’re going to apprehend a suspect in the way you have been trained to do by your training and protocol, we’re still going to allow you to be sued in civil court and your going to have to pay for that. And so it would be a huge mistake, in my opinion, to take that legal protection away from our officers.

“The next thing that was very troubling to me is– this is the way the Democrats talk about it– is the militarization of our police force. That bill would require that no longer could our law enforcement agencies get equipment from our military. I talked to my local sheriffs, I had a round table, I represent nine counties in Florida. And I had a round table with them. They get their protective equipment from military transfers. They get their vests, their protective shields. One of my departments got a protective bullet-proof vehicle, so when they execute search warrants against known criminals that have firearms that are going to shoot at them, the officers are protected.

“Why in the world would we want to take that away from our officers? Because in agencies like mine in rural parts of Florida, and rural parts of the country, they can’t afford that type of equipment. The only way they get it is through these military transfers. So, why in the world would we tell our law enforcement they can no longer get this equipment?

“And I think it’s walking down a slippery slope in the sense of weapons, as well. So, specifically annotated in that bill is law enforcement agencies can’t get militarized weapons. Well, you know what they’re talking about. They’re talking about AR-15s and those types of weapons, and semi-automatic rifles. Well, if the law enforcement no longer can get them, then what do you think the next step will be? Well, if law enforcement does not have AR-15s or semi -automatic rifles, then the general public shouldn’t have that either. So it’s a very slippery slope. It puts our officers at risk and their protection.

“And the third thing that I think is problematic, especially for Florida, is it does away with no-knock warrants. In Florida, you have to have a judge sign off on that, you have to make a specific finding when you make that application for the warrant, that it’s going to be a no-knock warrant. You have to plead additional facts and have additional probable cause to necessitate a no-knock warrant. Why in the world would we take that away in drug cases, where if you have a small amount of fentanyl that can kill thousands and thousands of people, well, if you’re going to knock before you execute that warrant, that’s going to be flushed down the toilet. So why in the world would we take that away, and what in the world does any of this have to do with the George Floyd incident? This was all in reaction to the George Floyd case; none of this has anything to do with it.”

Jeffrey: “Obviously, there are bad cops, and there are police who do evil things. And you mentioned the murder of George Floyd, that was a profoundly evil act, a cold-blooded murder of a man who had his hands handcuffed behind his back. And the whole nation saw it and was properly shocked and outraged. On the federal level, what should Congress do to try and weed out the bad cops, the kind of cop that killed George Floyd? What should the federal government do to try and get those people out of the police and protect Americans from those type of police officers?”

Steube: “Well, it’s two things, again these problems are in departments that are run by city commissions and city councils that have been run by Democrats for tens of years in our country. The Minnesota training protocol allowed that officer to do that to restrain somebody. So that’s what needs to be changed. These different agencies that have all the problems–Ferguson, Atlanta, Minneapolis, New York, Chicago–they don’t have training protocols, some of them dating back to the 1980s.

“So these local municipalities have some of the blame as it relates to not updating the training protocols, not ensuring that their officers are properly trained, and putting procedures in place that if there is a bad cop, that he should be taken off the force.

“Now the things that I think the federal government can do, and that the president did in some of his executive order, was to create a database nationwide, so if you have a bad cop that got dismissed or released from one agency, say, in Florida, and he’s going to move and go to, say, Georgia and try to get a job, that hiring agency would be able to look in a database, and see that he got removed from an agency in Florida and he got removed for some type of disciplinary issue or an excessive force issue, or some type of violation of their general orders. So that more departments should know that they shouldn’t hire these individuals. I think that would be a great step that we can do at a federal level to ensure that bad cops don’t move from one jurisdiction to the other, after they have been fired from one place.”

Jeffrey: “Congressman Greg Steube, thank you very much sir.”

Steube: “Thanks for having me.”

 

 



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