Congress Should Deliver Consensus COVID-19 Relief “Right Away”
‘At long last, let’s do what Congress does when we want an outcome. Let’s make law on all the subjects where we agree, on all the areas where President Trump is ready to sign bipartisan relief into law.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding COVID-19 relief:
“Anyone who’s heard me speak about coronavirus relief going back months has heard one central principle: Let’s deliver right away on all the subjects where everybody agrees, and argue over the rest later.
“That solution to this impasse has been in plain sight for anyone willing to see it. Agree where we agree, bank that progress, make law, take a whole lot of pressure off struggling people, and then keep debating the areas where we don’t agree.
“There is no actual reason why the fates of common-sense policies like a second round of the job-saving Paycheck Protection Program had to be linked to the fates of fringe proposals like stimulus checks for illegal immigrants.
“There’s no reason why the fate of funding for vaccine distribution, or extending unemployment aid, or legal certainty for universities, should have been tied to radical ideas like paying people more not to work than essential workers earn on the job.
“Those linkages have been totally arbitrary. Just a political decision that Democratic leaders made many months back.
“Democratic leaders have tried to create a narrative where it’s taken for granted that the most bipartisan, commonsensical relief policies would live or die with their side’s most outlandish ideas. But that isn’t so.
“They have tried to create a dynamic where they move from one made-up number to a second, slightly smaller arbitrary number and call it a meaningful concession.
“The truth is simple. This has always been about policy differences. We have two sides with different visions for the best way to support our nation through what we hope will be the last chapter of the pandemic.
“That’s not new. We have disagreements all the time. Our system can handle it. But both sides have to be willing to compile their commonalities and make law there.
“And up to now, our Democratic colleagues have declined to do that.
“Remember, their side said in March this pandemic was, quote, ‘a tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision.’
“So when Republicans tried to pass common-ground relief measures in July and in September and in October our Democratic colleagues actually blocked policies they do not even claim to oppose.
“Now, it’s been heartening to see a few hopeful signs in the past few days.
“After months of arbitrary attachment to sky-high dollar amounts that the Speaker of the House claimed were essential -- that it would be an insult to settle for a nickel less -- those baseless claims have suddenly evaporated.
“That is at least movement in the right direction.
“But the underlying reality is still with us:
“There are many important policies that have strong bipartisan support; there are many others that do not; and the way to help the country is for our Democratic colleagues to finally let the former group be signed into law while we keep arguing over the latter.
“The targeted second round of the Paycheck Protection Program that we’ve been trying to establish since July would help a huge number of small businesses survive to the finish line and help huge numbers of workers keep their jobs. And it could pass the Senate today, probably with 95 votes.
“With the apparent success of Operation Warp Speed, it makes no sense to skimp on the systems to distribute and deliver vaccines around the country. Those funds could pass the Senate today, possibly unanimously.
“University presidents have made it clear they need legal certainty for their re-openings.
“That shouldn’t be partisan. Liability protections should be able to pass the Senate today.
“A number of our Democratic colleagues have focused especially on several of the unemployment relief programs that are set to expire in a matter of days. I specifically made sure to include those programs in my framework a few days ago.
“That extension could pass the Senate today.
“The House of Representatives is spending this week on pressing issues like marijuana. You know, serious and important legislation befitting this national crisis.
“But here in the Senate, I put forward a serious and highly targeted relief proposal including the elements which we know the President is ready and willing to sign into law.
“Why should these impactful and non-controversial life preservers be delayed one second longer?
“At long last, let’s do what Congress does when we want an outcome. Let’s make law on all the subjects where we agree, on all the areas where President Trump is ready to sign bipartisan relief into law.
“I promise, our deep differences will still be here to debate. Our disagreements will be right where we left them.
“But you know what can’t wait?
“American workers. American small businesses. K-12 schools. The vulnerable Americans and frontline healthcare workers for whom speedy vaccine distribution will literally be a life or death matter.
“Yesterday, my home state of Kentucky experienced yet another dreadful record-setting day.
“But Kentuckians also know hope is in sight. Our state’s workers are standing by at the UPS Worldport in Louisville and the DHL Express Americas Hub in northern Kentucky, key logistics centers that will play crucial roles in sending vaccines across the country.
“Our people are hurting, but they are ready to finish this fight. Congress should not keep them waiting for reinforcements that should have arrived months ago.
“Compromise is within reach. We know where we agree.
“We can do this. We need to do this.
“Let’s make law.”
Related Issues: Education, Small Business, Senate Democrats, COVID-19, Health Care, Economy