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Congressional task force to advise White House on post-pandemic economy has been formed

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) speaking at The Open Markets Institute's conference in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 11, 2018. (Michael Brochstein/Sipa USA/TNS)

Lawmakers from both parties have joined a task force to provide counsel to President Donald Trump and the White House on when to loosen public health restrictions and how to get the economy moving after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Trump and some of his allies have pushed for a faster lifting of restrictions, stressing that the economic ramifications of job losses and business closures could be worse than the loss of lives from the coronavirus. Public health officials have urged a more gradual approach to loosening social distancing guidelines and sending people back to work, school and daily life. They see a dramatic expansion of testing for the virus as a prerequisite to reopening businesses.

“My highest priority on this task force will be to ensure the federal government’s efforts to reopen our economy are bipartisan, data-driven, and based on the expertise of public health professionals,” Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia said in a statement.

Senate Democrats invited to join the task force include Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, Thomas Carper of Delaware, Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, Dianne Feinstein of California, Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Jacky Rosen of Nevada, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Angus King of Maine, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats.

Senators on the task force are expected to speak with Trump by phone Thursday, according to a senior Democratic aide.

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Republican senators asked to be on the task force include Health, Labor and Pensions Chairman Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, along with Joni Ernst of Iowa, Josh Hawley of Missouri, Mike Braun of Indiana, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania, John Cornyn of Texas, John Barrasso of Wyoming and Rob Portman of Ohio.

From the House, Democrats on the task force are Reps. Henry Cuellar of Texas, Ted Deutch of Florida, Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, Ro Khanna of California, Derek Kilmer of Washington, John B. Larson of Connecticut, Stephanie Murphy of Florida, Jimmy Panetta of California and Tom Suozzi of New York.

House Republicans who received invitations to join the task force include Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana, Patrick T. McHenry of North Carolina and Greg Walden of Oregon.

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© 2020 CQ-Roll Call

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