“Americans Can’t Afford Political Games. They Need Progress”
‘For days now, we have been engaged in intense bipartisan talks to build emergency relief legislation on an historic scale. To push resources to our healthcare heroes and American workers and families… Why are the American people still waiting? Why are Democrats filibustering the bipartisan bill they helped write?’
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:
“The eyes of the nation are on the Senate.
“For days now, we have been engaged in intense bipartisan talks to build emergency relief legislation on an historic scale. To push resources to our healthcare heroes and American workers and families.
“Democrats and Republicans sat down together. We crafted this version of this proposal together.
“This compromise package would push tens of billions of dollars to hospitals and healthcare providers. It would send direct checks to millions of American households. It would massively expand unemployment insurance in this crisis. It would stabilize industries to prevent mass layoffs. And, crucially, it would deliver historic relief to small businesses to help Main Street employees from being totally crushed by this pandemic.
“But yesterday, when the time came to vote on these urgent measures, our Democratic colleagues chose to block it.
“So, why are the American people still waiting? Why are Democrats filibustering the bipartisan bill they helped write?
“Let me give the American people a taste of the outstanding issues we woke up to this morning. Here are some of the items on the Democratic wish-list over which they chose to block the legislation last night.
“Tax credits for solar energy and wind energy.
“Provisions to force employers to give special new treatment to Big Labor.
“And listen to this — new emissions standards for the airlines.
“Are you kidding me? This is the moment to debate new regulations that have nothing to do with this crisis? That’s what they’re up to over there. The American people need to know it.
“Democrats won’t let us fund hospitals or save small businesses unless they get to dust off the Green New Deal?
“I would like to see Senate Democrats tell the New York City doctors and nurses, who are literally overrun as we speak, that they are filibustering hospital funding and more masks because they want to argue with the airlines over their carbon footprint.
“I would like to see Senate Democrats tell small businesses employees in their states, who are literally being laid off every day, that they are filibustering relief that will keep people on payroll because Democrats’ special interest friends want to squeeze employers while they’re vulnerable.
“I would like to see Senate Democrats tell all the American seniors who have seen their hard-earned retirement savings melt away, as the markets track towards their worst month since 1931, that they’re continuing to hold up emergency measures over tax credits for solar panels.
“Even with the Federal Reserve announcing even further extraordinary steps today, the markets are tanking once again, because this body cannot get its act together.
“So these are just a few of the completely non-germane wish-list items. Eleventh-hour demands that Democrats have decided are more important than Americans’ paychecks and the personal safety of doctors and nurses.
“Remember what one of Speaker Pelosi’s top lieutenants in the House said a few days ago? Quote: “This is a tremendous opportunity to restrict things to fit our vision.” That’s the Democratic Whip over in the House, just laying it out there.
“And we heard something similar here on the Senate floor last night. Here was one of our Democratic colleagues. Quote: “How many times are we going to get a shot at a $1-trillion-plus program?... I don’t know how many trillion-plus packages we’re going to have!”
“How embarrassing. Talking like this is some juicy political opportunity. This is a national emergency.
“We had days of productive bipartisan talks to get to this point. Senate Democrats sat down with Senate Republicans and negotiated furiously to get to this point.
“The bill now contains a huge number of changes they requested, including major changes. We were this close.
“But then, yesterday morning, the Speaker of the House flew back from San Francisco.
“And suddenly the Senate’s serious bipartisan process turned into this left-wing episode of Supermarket Sweep. Unrelated issues left and right.
“I’ll tell you what will really lower our carbon footprint — if the entire economy continues to crumble, with hundreds of thousands more Americans laid off, because Senate Democrats won’t let us act!
“Every single American outside of Washington knows there is no time for this nonsense.
“A surgeon in Fresno, California says “we are at war with no ammo.” An intensive-care nurse in New York City says “if we don’t get the proper equipment soon, we’re going to get sick.” But Democrats are filibustering more masks and aid for hospitals.
“Every day, more Americans wake up to the news that their jobs are gone. But Democrats are filibustering programs to keep people on payroll. And they are filibustering a huge expansion of unemployment insurance which they themselves negotiated and put into this bill. Hundreds of dollars extra per week for laid-off workers, on top of existing unemployment benefits — and Democrats are blocking it.
“This has to stop. And today is the day it has to stop. The country is out of time.
“When the Democratic House passed their “phase two” bill, even though Senate Republicans would have written it very differently, we sped it through the Senate and passed it quickly without even amending it.
“I literally told my own Republicans colleagues to “gag and vote for it,” for the sake of building bipartisan momentum. Because Republicans understand that a national crisis calls for urgency and bipartisanship.
“It is time for that good faith to be reciprocated. It is time for Democrats to stop playing politics and step up to the plate.
“The small businesses in their own states deserve it. Their own states’ emergency room doctors deserve it. Their own constituents who have lost their jobs deserve it.
“In my home state of Kentucky, the Governor has effectively paused commerce across the state, and our unemployment system crashed due to demand. Kentuckians need help now.
“And we aren’t alone. I have heard the pleas from healthcare workers in New York and Seattle. I have listened to the small business owners crying out in Brooklyn and Chicago.
“Why does only one side understand that this is urgent? Why are these hard-hit cities’ own Senators happy to keep slow-walking this indefinitely? Is that something these folks on the other side are comfortable with? How can half the Senate be content to play politics with this?
“This is a time when the entire country is pulling together. Examples are all over the country that we ought to look for. From healthcare heroes to neighborhood volunteers to national industries, everyone is unifying and pitching in.
“What about here in the Senate? It is time for the Congress to get with the program.
“It is time to pass this historic relief legislation that we have built together. Americans can’t afford political games. They need progress.
“So we’re going to vote in just a few moments. I assure you the American people will be watching.”
Related Issues: Economy, Health Care, Small Business, Middle Class, Senate Democrats