“The American People Need Our Democratic Friends to Take “Yes” for An Answer”
‘If we act today, what Americans will remember, and what history will record, is that the Senate did the right thing. That we came together. That we took a lesson from the way Americans are uniting and working together all across our country. That we combined ideas from both sides and took a bold step to protect Americans and help our nation through a crisis.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act:
“For weeks now, the American people have been contending with the coronavirus pandemic that is spreading across our country and the massive disruptions to daily life it is creating. They’re grappling with small business closures, mass layoffs, and uncertainty for their families.
“But that isn’t all. For the last several days now, in the midst of all that, they’ve also had to watch their United States Senate spin its wheels.
“As we convene this morning, roughly 40 percent of our population is under stay-at-home orders from state leaders.
“Employers across America are wondering how they’ll keep the lights on. Doctors, nurses, and healthcare professionals are crying out for support.
“We literally have Army field hospitals on their way to being set up in major American cities.
“In the space of just a few weeks, this has become our “new normal.”
“This is a national crisis. It’s the most serious threat to Americans’ health in over a century, and quite likely the greatest risk to Americans’ jobs and prosperity that we have seen since the Great Depression.
“Hundreds of thousands of Americans have already lost their jobs because so much of our commerce has been put on pause.
“Families are wondering how they are going to pay their rent or mortgage in eight days. Rent is due on April 1st. People don’t know how they’re going to pay bills or make their car payment.
“Many other hardworking Americans are still employed, for now, but fall asleep every night wondering if it will be their turn to wake up to that e-mail or phone call tomorrow.
“American seniors have seen decades of savings cut down in the space of days as the markets tumble.
“Our national life has literally been transformed in less than a month.
“The urgency and the gravity of this moment cannot be lost on anyone.
“Every day — every hour — the Congress delays in passing a significant relief package, we risk more Americans’ livelihoods, and the safety of more healthcare professionals.
“That’s why, right after I fast-tracked the Democratic House’s relief proposal through the Senate, I immediately turned the Senate towards developing an even bigger and bolder relief package for the American people.
“Nine days ago, I laid out the key objectives of our work.
“We had to send direct financial assistance to Americans. We had to help Main Street small businesses. We had to act to stabilize the foundations of our economy for workers. And of course, we had to send more resources to medical professionals and our healthcare system.
“Five days ago, Senate Republicans released our initial framework for the CARES Act.
“We put forward bold policies like sending cash directly to Americans; pouring money into small businesses; lending to national industries to prevent mass layoffs; and surge resources for doctors, nurses, and patients.
“We knew we needed a proposal to address our nation’s pain at literally every level.
“Now, in the past few days, some voices have tried to pit some Americans against other Americans, and argue that directly helping workers and strengthening businesses are somehow conflicting priorities.
“That is utter nonsense. American workers need paychecks. They need jobs.
“The working men and women of this country do need direct relief from government in this crisis — but for goodness sakes, they also need their paychecks.
“They need to be able to resume their lives and their jobs once this is over.
“These two things cannot be separated. There’s a term for when you separate employees from employers. It’s called unemployment. That’s what we are trying to avoid.
“So this is no time to point fingers or stoke culture wars. This is a time to unify.
“Perhaps now more than at any moment in living memory, all of us Americans are in this together.
“This pandemic is not the fault of the American workers who make this country run; it is not the fault of small-business owners; it is not the fault of major national employers.
“Everyone needs help. We are all in this together. We need an all-of-the-above approach. And that’s what our framework put forward. Help for workers, and families, and employers, and healthcare providers.
“As soon as Republicans put out our draft proposal to treat every aspect of this crisis, I immediately called for bipartisan talks.
“That’s not something you see often in Washington: as soon as I released our first draft, I immediately invited the other side to start changing it! That’s what you call urgency.
“We set up bipartisan working groups. I asked negotiators to work together to turn our rough draft into something that could pass the Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support.
“Republicans and Democrats traded ideas. Democrats asked for many changes to the initial draft, and received many.
“The updated text released a few days ago included proposals from the other side. And of course, as our colleagues have dragged out the last several days, even further changes have been made at their request.
“This majority has gone out of its way to make this process as bipartisan and open as possible. The Administration has bent over backwards to work with Democrats and address their concerns.
“Now, at last, I believe we are on the five-yard line.
“It has taken a lot of noise and rhetoric to get us here. That sometimes happens in this town.
“At different times, we received Democratic counteroffers that demanded things like new emission standards or tax credits for solar panels. We saw the Speaker of the House release an encyclopedia of unrelated demands as though it were a coronavirus proposal.
“Despite of all that, we are very close. We are close to a bill that takes our bold Republican framework, integrates further ideas from both parties, and delivers huge progress on each of the four core priorities I laid out a week ago.
“So today, the Senate can get back on track.
“Today, we can make all of the Washington drama fade away.
“If we act today, what Americans will remember, and what history will record, is that the Senate did the right thing. That we came together. That we took a lesson from the way Americans are uniting and working together all across our country. That we combined ideas from both sides and took a bold step to protect Americans and help our nation through a crisis.
“I’m not sure how many ways to say it but the clock has run out. The buzzer is sounding. The hour for bargaining as though this were business as usual has expired.
“The American people need our Democratic friends to take “yes” for an answer.
“I hope that will happen today. Doctors and nurses need masks. Families need help. Small businesses need cash. Hospitals need funding.
“Their Senate majority is ready to deliver those things. We have been ready to deliver those things for a while.
“I hope today is the day this body will get it done.”
Related Issues: Health Care, Jobs, Small Business, Economy, Senate Democrats