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Rep. McMorris Rodgers describes role in national COVID-19 response, economic recovery

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers talks about our state's coronavirus response so far and how COVID-19 has become political.

SPOKANE, Wash — Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers spoke with KREM 2's Whitney Ward in her first on-camera interview since the U.S. Capitol riots and the impeachment vote.

On Wednesday, KREM aired the first part of the interview where the congresswoman spoke about the riots at the capitol. Tonight on KREM 2 News at 6, McMorris Rodgers talks about our state's coronavirus response so far and how COVID-19 has become political.

Interview Transcript

NOTE: This interview has been edited for length and clarity. It was recorded on Jan. 29 before Gov. Jay Inslee announced the five regions moving into Phase 2 of reopening.  

Cathy McMorris Rodgers: It's easy to point the finger at someone else. It's easy to point the finger. It's easy to cast blame. It's easy to shame people right now, shame them into believing the way that you do. I believe that we need to return to a time when we can respect each other's beliefs, and still be friends, even when we don't agree.

Whitney Ward: Here in Eastern Washington, businesses are struggling, across the state, of course. But especially here. Do you think we need to loosen up some things? I know you signed this petition to open up restaurants a little bit more.

McMorris Rodgers: Yes! I've been encouraging the governor and will continue to encourage the governor to help us open up. Help us open up our economy. Help us open up our schools. Help us figure out what needs to happen so we can open up. That should be the goal. Yes it's heartbreaking, the number of businesses on main street, the restaurants, others that have closed, that are not going to open again. 

Those are people's lives, their dreams, their income. People who have lost their jobs. So, we need to do it in a smart and responsible way. But I believe we can, that we've learned a lot. We are not in the same position today, as we were when the national emergency was declared in March.

Ward: What are you going to be able to do from Washington D.C. to help economic recovery here?

McMorris Rodgers: Next week, we will be having hearings on Capitol Hill around vaccine distribution, to better understand why some states are doing well, and other states are not. And where those gaps are, and what we, in Congress, can be doing to make sure that we address those gaps. And we'll also have hearings around the supply chain. But there is going to be a lot of work both to continue to address COVID and to prepare and make sure we are prepared for a situation like this in the future.

Ward: Do you think Eastern Washington is getting enough attention when it comes to the entire state?

McMorris Rodgers: Yeah, I've been concerned how slow it seems to be, that the vaccines are being distributed in Washington state. That's one of the questions that need to be answered. And I have also heard concerns as I've talked to both public health officers and the county commissioners. That we're in this big region over here in Eastern Washington. And especially outside of Spokane County, up north, they're a little frustrated that they're being lumped with Spokane County. And Spokane county, I know is anxious to get more vaccines.

My hope, coming out of COVID, and for this new year, that there will be a new era of innovation and entrepreneurship. Yes, we've lost businesses and it's heartbreaking. But we've also been home. And my hope is that there have been a lot of ideas that people have. On any given day, I know that I'm doing my best. Not that I always get it right. But, I believe the best is yet to come.