Washington –Rep. John Larson on Thursday accepted a Trump administration invitation to join its task force on reopening the government.
“When the President of the United States asks you to join a task force to address challenges likes this one, you do so for the sake of the country, even though I have strong disagreements with him on many issue,” Larson, D-1st District, said. “In spite of our differences, in times of crisis we must work together. My service on the task force will give Connecticut a seat at the table.”
Larson, along with the other lawmakers invited to join the effort, spoke with President Donald Trump by phone Thursday morning.
“In today’s conversation I was able to elevate the concerns of Governor [Ned] Lamont, while emphasizing the need to help the most vulnerable amongst us, the elderly and people of color, in particular older women of color,” Larson said. “I am looking forward to this opportunity to continue to raise the concerns of my constituents, Connecticut, and working people all across the nation.”
“As public health experts and most notably, Dr. [Anthony] Fauci have stated, the COVID-19 pandemic is first and foremost a health crisis, which has devastated the economy,” Larson said. “We must work to address both issues head on and at the same time. This is an enormous challenge.”
At odds with the nation’s governors about who has authority to end the lockdowns the governors ordered, the White House asked a bipartisan group of lawmakers to join the effort.
Earlier this week, Trump insisted that he has “total” authority to decide how and when to loosen restrictions in the country — although the U.S. Constitution largely delegates such matters to the states. He later said he would work with the governors to determine when the nation could fully reopen for business. Some states, including Connecticut, are taking a regional approach to determine when they can ease the restrictions and stay-at-home orders.
The White House panel, dubbed the Great American Economic Revival Industry Groups, includes more than 50 executives and leaders from agricultural, defense and financial service industries. There are also representatives from unions, professional sports, think tanks and more.
The list of business executives includes Apple’s Tim Cook, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and hedge fund manager Ken Griffin — all individuals with whom Trump has long-standing relationships — as well as some critics of the president, including former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice.
Democratic senators invited to the task force include Tom Carper of Delaware, Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, Dick Durbin of Illinois, Dianne Feinstein of California, Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, Angus King of Maine, Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island.
Republican senators include Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Sens. John Barrasso of Wyoming, Rob Portman of Ohio, Joni Ernst of Iowa, and John Cornyn of Texas.
Besides Larson, House members invited to join the task force are Reps. Henry Cuellar of Texas, Ted Deutch of Florida, Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, Steve Scalise of Louisiana, Greg Walden of Oregon and Patrick McHenry of North Carolina.