U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan and U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady discussed the coronavirus response after a Manatee Chamber of Commerce event in Bradenton.

A pair of GOP congressmen defended President Donald Trump’s response to the coronavirus threat after an event in Bradenton Friday.


U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, and U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, weighed in on the coronavirus response after a roundtable discussion about business issues at the Manatee Chamber of Commerce.


The Trump administration has been under fire for the slow rollout of virus testing kits and other perceived deficiencies in how the health threat is being handled, but both Buchanan and Brady said they’ve been pleased with the response.


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"I’ve been in meetings with Pence a couple of times over the last week; I think they’re very focused," Buchanan said of Vice President Mike Pence, who is leading the effort to contain the virus.


It takes time to ramp up testing for something like this, Buchanan added. The test kits should become much more widely available in the next week or two, he said.


Buchanan added later that he wants to see much faster turnaround times for test results, which currently take days to process. The results should be available within 24 hours, he said.


"I’m not happy where we’re at with all the testing," he said.


Brady called much of the criticism of Trump’s coronavirus response "political posturing."


"It needs to stop," Brady added. "The truth of the matter is, in every other health challenge both parties have pulled together because we know what’s at stake."


Brady ticked off a list of actions taken by the Trump administration and Congress this week, including approving testing at the state and local level, pushing to produce one million tests by the end of the week and Congress approving $8 billion in funding for virus containment.


"I think they’re moving at light speed," Brady said.


But many Democrats and some leading health experts have blasted the coronavirus response as inadequate. The virus has now killed 14 people in the United States and threatens to cause turmoil in the economy.


The economic threat posed by the virus only was mentioned in passing during the roundtable discussion Friday, which instead touched on concerns about raising the minimum wage, having adequate infrastructure, workforce training, homelessness and other issues.


But Manatee Chamber President and CEO Jacki Dezelski said after the event that "we’re hearing from our businesses there is a concern this could negatively impact the economy in the short term."


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Brady said he believes the economy is strong enough to withstand any disruption caused by the virus.


"Having a strong economy now and flying at this altitude, we can handle the turbulence," said Brady, the top Republican on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, on which Buchanan also serves.


"I think the markets will level out," Brady added. "Some industries, such as tourism and travel, are being hit harder than others. Businesses are acting out of an abundance of caution. I think as we see globally these global actions working. I think you’ll see that confidence restored."