Rep. Seth Moulton said Thursday he was withdrawing his co-sponsorship of a resolution condemning the Chinese government for the coronavirus outbreak, after receiving criticism on social media and from his primary challengers in Massachusetts’s sixth district.
“I’ve heard from a lot of Asian-American friends and some colleagues who are concerned about this resolution, and so actually, I’ve decided to take my name off it,” Moulton told Jim Braude on WGBH News’ Greater Boston Thursday night.
Moulton spearheaded the resolution with Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana and was the only Democrat on it.
“I signed onto the resolution because China is our biggest geostrategic threat and I’m troubled by the Chinese Communist Party’s disinformation campaign, which is literally blaming the U.S. military for the creation of COVID-19,” he continued. “And all the other ways that the Chinese government has handled this crisis, from downplaying the pandemic and kicking out American journalists to continuing to persecute the Uighurs. So, I think it’s important to highlight the tactics that authoritarian governments like China use so that we can also call out President Trump for making use of some of the same tactics here at home.”
When asked if he thought President Donald Trump’s frequent use of the term “Chinese virus” to describe the novel coronavirus was racist, Moulton answered, “It’s totally inappropriate, yes.”
Moulton also described the coronavirus-like symptoms that recently prompted him to go into self-quarantine — although he was never able to receive a test.
He said his symptoms had been a very tight chest, difficulty breathing, fatigue, and slight fever. (He added in a conversation after the interview that he wanted to stress to the public: “If you have mild symptoms, you need to take it seriously. You need to stay at home.”)
“I’m feeling much better,” he said. “My wife and I were not feeling great last week. … We’ve been very lucky that [our symptoms] have been relatively minor compared to what some people are experiencing.”
Moulton receives his medical care through the VA. He said that he was unable to get tested because he was told that only the most severely ill would receive testing due to shortage of supplies.
“For those of us who are just gonna stay at home for our treatment, because we don’t need to get a ventilator or something like that, it doesn’t really matter whether we test positive or negative, the treatment protocol is the same. … That’s the rationale I was given,” Moulton said. “But given that we are confirmed symptomatic for this disease, I think it’s a real problem that we can’t get tested.”
Moulton described the experiences of other friends of his who had received different answers for whether they would be given a test, or how long it would take, depending on where they were seeking care.
“Different hospitals and doctors are all over the place because there just aren’t enough tests to go around,” he said.
Because he will not be in Washington, Moulton will not be able to vote on the $2 trillion stimulus package, which is expected to come before the House on Friday. He stressed his support for the package — particularly compared to the original version drafted by Republicans — but voiced concerns about the process by which it was moving forward.
“The current plan is to pass by voice vote, which means that we don’t all have to be there,” he said. “That’s not the right way to do this. … This is [happening] because across the federal government, we are not prepared for this pandemic.”
Asked if there would be a second stimulus package after this one, Moulton was firm.
“There has to be,” he said.