The Guest Column: Supporting Rural America

Dear Friend,

Last week, I discussed the excessive number of executive orders and policy changes of the Biden Administration and shared the steps I am taking to counteract
these executive orders, such as cosponsoring the Keystone XL Construction and Jobs Act and opposing the President’s plans to implement a $15 minimum wage.
These executive orders will be harmful as we try to rebuild our great economy to its pre-pandemic levels. We are already seeing the job-killing impact of
President Biden’s decision to halt construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline. As your Representative, I will continue to fight for America-first policies
and stand up against these efforts that threaten the jobs of American citizens.

This week, I penned an op-ed in the Washington Examiner to discuss this issue and more. In my article, I show how President Biden has abandoned his promises for unity and attacked the policies that Republicans
have fought to defend, such as the right to life, promoting small businesses, and securing well-paying jobs for hard-working Americans. I believe there
are many issues that Republicans and Democrats can work together to address, but President Biden and Democrats in the House and Senate must be willing
to include Republicans in the legislative process in order for all Americans to be represented.

Standing Up for Rural America

Today in the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I opposed the committee’s budget reconciliation legislation and offered amendments to assist
rural communities and reign in government spending. In their efforts to rush through a partisan budget proposal, Democrats have forgotten the needs
of rural America in the fight against COVID-19. Furthermore, their budget proposal greatly overshoots the economic needs of our country in our continued
fight against COVID-19. In our markup today, I offered three amendments to address these issues in the Democrats’ proposal:

  • Dedicate $5,000,000,000 from the legislation to FEMA under the Disaster Relief Fund to assist vaccine distribution in Rural and Small States.
  • Eliminate FEMA cost-share agreements to reduce federal spending.
  • Repurpose 10 percent of airport grant funding in amounts over $100,000,000 to be used for grants to small and non-hub airports.

Below, you will find my full remarks in the committee to address the issues with the House Democrats’ budget resolution.

I understand the sense of urgency by our colleagues across the aisle, especially as we approach one-year of fighting COVID-19. I understand the desire to do something. However, this legislation does little to help many Americans. We need to be taking an economics and need-based approach to this issue, and the economic data doesn’t support the level of relief Democrats are proposing.

Unemployment is falling, consumer confidence is rising, growth in the economic sector is accelerating, and demand for homes remains high. On top of that, we still have $1 trillion, I repeat $1 trillion, in our previous relief packages that has yet to be spent. To put that into perspective, that’s almost the entire GDP of Australia that we have held in reserves to combat COVID-19. The money that falls under the scope of this committee is no different. Amtrak has yet to spend a dime of the $1 billion we provided them in December, and transit has only spent 40% of funds that we allocated through the CARES Act and the most recent package.

We need to be identifying the gap between what we’ve already done and what’s needed. According to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, the gap between our nation’s normal output and the current output would be $380 billion for the rest of 2021. That means this Democratic proposal could address this gap 4 times over. The data demonstrates that we need to slow down, create bipartisanship, create targeted legislation that addresses specific issues facing the American people.

We all agree that our focus needs to be on ending the pandemic, supporting access to vaccines, and assisting economic recovery, but this legislation has left out millions of rural Americans and their needs in the recovery. They need us to continue to support vaccine manufacturing and distribution so that everyone who wants to get their shots can. They need us to expand access to vaccines for essential workers covered by this committee, workers like truckers, flight attendants, and municipal workers to get their vaccines in a flexible way that can let them continue working. Nowhere are these goals more important than rural America, where vaccinations sites are miles or even hours away and access to information is many times more difficult to come by.

Over the last year, we worked together on legislation that addressed the needs of Americans everywhere. This legislation is strong evidence as to why we need bipartisanship more than ever, because by excluding Republicans in developing this bill, you have excluded millions of rural Americans.

Welcoming Home Mississippi Troops

Last night, I welcomed home Mississippi’s own 204th Air Defense Artillery from deployment in the Washington, D.C., area. I was able to visit with these
men and women last year during their nearly year-long deployment, and I’m grateful for their service to our great nation. I was proud to join Lt. Governor
Delbert Hosemann and General Durr Boyles to welcome these men and women home to their families after serving our nation.


Expanded Roll-Out of COVID-19 Vaccines

Wal-Mart has announced that it will offer vaccinations at its pharmacy locations across the state. The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) has
provided a list of the Wal-Mart locationsoffering vaccination services. You can make an appointment onlineon the Wal-Mart website. Mississippians who are 65 years or older and those with certain chronic health conditions are eligible to receive the COVID-19
vaccine in Mississippi. This is the first expansion of many that are expected in the coming weeks and months as the vaccine becomes more readily available.
I will continue to assist where I can from the federal level in the distribution of these important vaccines as we work to end this pandemic.

If you meet the conditions above, I encourage you to consider vaccination. They are accessible through vaccination providers, and you can even search your vaccination provider by a county list provided by MSDH.
Another option is to schedule a drive-through vaccination appointment using the online portal provided by MSDH.
Due to high demand, there could be a wait time to use the portal.

It is important to note that the COVID-19 vaccination comes in two doses that differ based on the vaccine received. The Pfizer vaccine requires a second
dose to be administered 21 days or more after the initial dose, and the Moderna second dose is administered 28 days or more after the first dose.

COVID-19 Testing Sites and Resources

Individuals experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or who have had a known exposure to someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus can receive an appointment
for free COVID-19 testing by completing the online questionnaire found at or by contacting the UMMC Center for Telehealth at (601) 496-7200 from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Anyone determined to need testing will be given
an appointment date and time at the testing site most convenient. The testing site in Jackson is located at the West Street Farmers Market on Woodrow
Wilson Avenue and is available from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. every day, except for Sunday. You can find information on local testing near you by visiting
the Mississippi State Department of Health’s website.

Latest Statistics

As of Wednesday, February 10, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 27,030,549 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the United States. In the last seven days, we’ve seen 753,433 additional cases. The
total number of individuals who have passed away as a result of infection in the U.S. from the virus is now 466,465.

As reported yesterday, an additional 784 Mississippians have contracted the coronavirus, and 25 more Mississippians passed away from the virus. In total,
2,296,509 COVID-19 tests have been given in Mississippi, and 253,140 COVID-19 cases are presumed to have recovered. See below for graphs and infographics
from the Mississippi State Department of Health on the number of cases in Mississippi.







Michael Guest

Member of Congress