Congressman working from home in Philipstown

As the COVID-19 threat spread across the Hudson Valley and the nation, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, the Democrat whose district includes the Highlands, traded his House office on Capitol Hill for his house office in Philipstown.

Maloney town hall
In a photo taken from Instagram, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney conducts a telephone town hall on March 19 from his home in Philipstown. (Photo provided)

He returned briefly to Washington, D.C., to vote on key legislation but otherwise, with the House in recess, has been working from home, where his daughters, Daley, a 2019 Haldane graduate now at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City, and Essie, a Haldane junior, dig into their own assignments after schools closed. Maloney’s husband, Randy Florke, is a real estate broker and also homebound.

The Current spoke with Maloney by phone on Wednesday (April 1).

President Trump has avoided calling a nationwide quarantine. He also has been reluctant to use the Defense Production Act to compel industries to manufacture ventilators and other equipment. What, if anything, can Congress do?
If you’re asking whether the 435 members of the House and 100 members of the Senate can become the president of the U.S. because Donald Trump isn’t using the tools he’s been given, the answer is, “No, we can’t.” He isn’t using the authority he already has. The Defense Production Act is the most glaring example. The question is, why? The delay is inexcusable and the consequences are horrific, when you listen to governors having to compete with one another, bidding up the price of ventilators and personal protective equipment, for no reason. There should be a centralized, coordinated, forceful presidential command and control structure. It’s frustrating. What’s missing is leadership.

So what about Congress?
Congress needs to fund this effort and we have done so — more than $2 trillion of critically needed relief measures, with billions of research and technical funding for testing and vaccine production and all the things necessary to combat the virus. That funding and those measures need tobe implemented by the president. Help is on the way, with a scope and level greater than anything in American history. Yet there are more things Congress needs to do, particularly in economic recovery.

When the threat ends, will Congress investigate the White House’s response to the pandemic?
Absolutely. There should be a bipartisan, independent commission that looks at all aspects of the pandemic and our response, to learn, and to demand accountability, so we are never in this position again.

Maloney flying
A photo posted last week on Maloney’s Instagram account: “Returning to Washington to pass the relief bill. Social distancing not a problem.”

If one of the committees you sit on holds hearings, what question would you most want to ask a White House official?
Several areas cry out for answers. First: How have we failed so spectacularly to have a national testing system in time to do some good? What changes do we need to make to fix that? And why did we not work with the Chinese and South Koreans to share data? We had weeks and weeks of lead time, to get organized, that we squandered. I want to know why that responsibility wasn’t better handled.

Health officials have been attacked online for their statements about COVID-19. Do you think the Russians could be behind some of it, creating fake social media accounts to disseminate disinformation?
We are absolutely concerned about malign foreign influence on social media. We’ve seen it as an issue for the last four years, at least. I haven’t seen any evidence that they are trying to spread COVID disinformation or to divide us, but it wouldn’t surprise me. It would be completely in line with the Russian playbook.

Where are you these days?
I’m in Cold Spring. My kids haven’t left our property, except to go for a walk, for the last two weeks, since school got out. We are playing by the rules, the Centers for Disease Control guidelines [on staying home and practicing social distancing outdoors]. We’re taking this very seriously. We’re doing fine. I have to give my kids credit. They’re still doing their homework. They have a positive attitude. They’ve been helping out around the house. We’ve been getting a lot of projects done. And I’ve been able to focus as I need to.

What else would you say to the public?
It’s not going to be over in a couple of weeks. All of us, doing a little, will ultimately mean more than a few people doing a lot. The only silver lining is that we do have to support one another and work together because we are all affected. We have an opportunity to rediscover the power in our common humanity and common vulnerability and recommit ourselves to building a better community where we are more supportive of one another and more committed to the things that really matter in this life. Hopefully, that small bit of good can come out of this whole terrible thing.

Behind The Story

Type: News

News: Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Armstrong was the founding news editor of The Current (then known as in 2010 and later a senior correspondent and contributing editor for the paper. She worked earlier in Washington as a White House correspondent and national affairs reporter and assistant news editor for daily international news services. Location: Cold Spring. Languages: English. Areas of expertise: Politics and government

7 replies on “Maloney: Trump Response to Pandemic ‘Frustrating’”

  1. Typical politician. How easy is it to sit in one’s home and make ridiculous statements that couldn’t be further from the truth. Those who play politics while our nation is in deep trouble is as low as one can get.

    I trust that Maloney is not stupid, which means that he is vicious. He brings up “Russian” like the Democrat’s mantra and salivates such like Pavlov’s dog rather than “China” who truly gave us this scourge. If anyone were to do something like this virus is doing to us and much of the world at large, it would be China. Did they not kill off 20 million of their own back in the late 1950s to push their failed “commune system” into play? Do they not want to be top dog in the world? They were watching what a real president of our country has done to make us once again the envy of the world and that had to be killing those at the top in Beijing.

    They have far more than a simple plurality of beings. So, what’s the big deal of killing off a few millions to get the upper hand? Does Tiananmen Square ring any modern-day thoughts?

    While Maloney and his merry band of ??s were involved for three+ years deep in an impeachment hoax, China could have had their own scheme cooking. This time of poor thought ate up all of the oxygen by not keeping our eyes on the world’s mischievous makers. Thank God that we had a president and his administration shepherding our country. Yes, our governor has played a little politics during this time but he has also, like our president, been as uplifting as possible while still maintaining a steady hand.

    Finally, of course, Mahoney would endorse the front runner of his party. But please, just take a moment of thought as if Joe Biden had currently been president and where we would be now? Don’t you think?…. a little more scary? No, it would have been scarier to the 100th power, and most of the thinking public knows it.

  2. While Maloney is “frustrated,” I am infuriated that in the midst of this crisis that he finds time to vent his and the Democratic Party’s obsession with discrediting this president. The petty, mean-spirited armchair second-guessers are at it. So uplifting, isn’t it? Shameful.

  3. I agree with the above two replies. Note that this biased politician also flies to Washington and note the plane is empty behind him. Looks like he is not much of an environmentalist, either.

    The bottom line that this politician fails to appreciate is that more people will lose their jobs than will die from COVID-19. The cure is worse than the disease and this guy wants to make it worse! What in the world is this guy thinking? He needs to be thrown out of office before he can do any real harm.

  4. I couldn’t agree more. This is the same Democrat whose party screamed about Trump’s ban on visitors from China. The usual attack: he’s a racist. Same with the European ban, “It wasn’t necessary.” And of course, when the Republicans tried to pass a stimulus bill to help our small businesses, the Democrats tried to put measures in the bill that had nothing to do with the fight against the virus. Now that the Russian collusion hoax has been debunked, not one apology for wasting millions of dollars and years investigating a hoax paid for by the Democratic National Committee. What an absolute hypocrite.

  5. U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney expressed frustration regarding President Trump’s response to the pandemic. Why am I not surprised? Now is not the time for politics. The people need encouragement and hope, not partisan posturing.

    All Americans are frustrated because their lives have been seriously affected, some tragically, by the COVID-19 scourge. My heart goes out to all. Unfortunately, there are those who continuously find fault no matter what decisions are made. Maybe Rep. Maloney should call President Trump and provide the benefit of his vast experience and knowledge of pandemics.

    I wish Rep. Maloney well, and when he returns to Washington, D.C., at the first safe opportunity, he can continue the im-portant work of the House in the form of another dubious investigation. Investigations are their primary engagement. They can also ponder ways to add party-agenda items to the next stimulus bills that have nothing to do with COVID-19 aid to the American people. Stay healthy and safe.

  6. I’m tired of hearing the transfer of blame from Trump and the Republican Party to the media and Democrats.

    If you voted for Trump, well, fine. But be prepared to take your share of the responsibility for his incompetence. Stop blaming educated people on the other side of the aisle and in the media for holding him accountable, because Republican voters and Republicans in Congress have done nothing to stop this trainwreck for the past three-and-a-half years. And now a large number of us are going to get sick and die because of the greed and stupidity of the Republican Party, which has allowed this buffoon to remain in office, unchecked. Stop deflecting. [via Facebook]

  7. Viruses don’t just “go away.” They are here and will keep coming back every year or season. People will eventually develop stronger immunities to this virus and we’ll hopefully have a vaccine and treatment in the next year. Science works, math works, facts matter. Stop listening to the fake politicians in the White House and rely on the experts/scientists.

    As for testing, what’s the point of knowing if you have it? There is no vaccine or treatment. Unless you are seriously ill and in need of urgent medical care, you can pretty much assume you have it. Otherwise, people should continue to distance themselves from one another. There are too many people wanting to get tested when all they have is a cold or flu and are not even seriously ill. [via Facebook]

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