Kids, Jobs, Healthcare: McConnell on Major Pillars for Next COVID-19 Proposal

‘“The American people cannot completely stop building their lives until a vaccine is available. The United States of America was not built for a defensive crouch. We need to stand up an educational system and an economy that works for workers and families in the meantime. We need to find the right middle ground that is smart and safe, but also more sustainable.’

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding coronavirus legislation:

“Our nation stands at a crucial midway point in our battle against this terrible virus. The heroism of healthcare professionals, essential workers, and families from coast to coast got our nation through a springtime like no other.

“Communities across America put normal life on pause to buy breathing room for our medical system. We essentially had to winterize the world’s largest economy for weeks on end, and spare our people as much of the resulting pain as possible.

“The task was historic – and so was the Senate’s response. We wrote and passed the CARES Act, the largest rescue package in American history. Our legislation helped pull both our health system and our economy back from the brink.

“Tens of millions of jobs were saved. The hallways of our hospitals did not become Italy. The Senate’s leadership helped the nation endure the first phase of this.

“But this crisis is far from over.

“The virus that has claimed 140,000 American lives has not gone anywhere. As some places step back towards normalcy, infections are climbing again in hot spots across the country.

“The start of our economic recovery has been sharp and impressive. But in absolute terms, we have still just begun to pick up the pieces. Our progress so far has been encouraging, but it remains fragile and far from sufficient.

“I would argue that our country’s job now is even more complex than it was in March.

“Now, as then, we need to keep our health system robust. But now, instead of locking down the country to do it, we want to stand up a society that functions somewhat more normally at the same time.

“The American people cannot completely stop building their lives until a vaccine is available. The United States of America was not built for a defensive crouch. We need to stand up an educational system and an economy that works for workers and families in the meantime. We need to find the right middle ground that is smart and safe, but also more sustainable.

“Another historic set of challenges. And another opportunity for the United States Senate to deliver.

“For weeks now, I have made it clear that further legislation out of the Senate will be a serious response to this crisis. We won’t be wasting the American people’s time like the House Democrats, with their multi-trillion-dollar proposal to hike taxes on small businesses, cut taxes for blue-state millionaires, and send diversity detectives into the cannabis industry.

“I’ve said we will start with the facts and develop real, targeted solutions on the subjects that matter most to American families.

“Well, it turns out that means three things:

“Kids. Jobs. And healthcare.

“Surveys show the American people’s top priorities for reopening are childcare and K-12 schools.

“This country wants its kids back in the classroom this fall – learning, exploring, making friends. Their educations depend on it. In some cases, their safety depends on it. And so do the livelihoods of working parents.

“The American Academy of Pediatrics stated unambiguously that our goal must be in-person instruction. But of course, parents, teachers, and doctors all agree that it has to be as safe as possible.

“That’s where the Senate comes in.

“This majority is preparing legislation that will send $105 billion so that educators have the resources they need to safely reopen. That is more money than the House Democrats set aside for a similar fund, by the way.

“And that’s in addition to support for childcare needs. It’s amazing how you can find room to fund serious priorities when you take a pass on the far-left daydreams.

“Second -- the economic slowdown that has hurt millions and millions of Americans.

“Before this crisis, we’d never had 7 million Americans receiving unemployment at the same time. Today, we have 17 million. More than a million people have filed new unemployment claims every single week for more than four months now.

“The American job market needs another shot of adrenaline. Senate Republicans are laser-focused on getting American workers their jobs back.

“Our bill takes several specific incentives to hire and retain workers and turn the dials on those policies way up.

“The legislation will help reimburse for safe workplaces, so that Main Street can afford the PPE, testing, cleaning, or remodeling to protect workers and entice customers.

“The ingenuity and spirit of America’s small businesses is impossible to overstate. But they still face a tough road. With the majority of businesses expected to exhaust their initial Paycheck Protection Funding this summer, we’ll also be proposing a targeted second round of the PPP with a special eye toward hard-hit businesses.

“And speaking of building on what worked in the CARES Act, we want another round of direct payments to help American families keep driving our national comeback.

“Helping to create more American jobs is an urgent moral priority -- and these are just some of the policies we are discussing that will help that happen.

“In addition to kids and jobs, our third major focus is healthcare. The reason is obvious. If we lose control of the virus, or if research stalls, then everything else will be window dressing.

“Our proposal will dedicate even more resources to the fastest race for a new vaccine in human history, along with diagnostics and treatments.

“Our bill will also protect seniors from a potential spike in premiums. And the federal government will continue to support hospitals, providers, and testing.

“These are just some of the elements that Senate Republicans are discussing among ourselves and with the administration. But there is one more central proposal that ties kids, jobs, and healthcare all together.

“As I have said for months, the next recovery package will include strong legal protections for the healthcare workers who saved strangers’ lives and the schools, colleges, charities, and businesses that want to reopen.

“The American people will not see their historic recovery efforts gobbled up by trial lawyers who are itching to follow this pandemic with a second epidemic of frivolous lawsuits.

“Gross negligence will still be actionable, but we’re creating a safe harbor for institutions that make a good-faith effort to follow the guidelines available to them.

“Doctors and nurses clearly deserve this protection. And school districts, universities, nonprofits, and small businesses will need it, too, if we want any genuine reopening at all.

“The legislation that I have begun to sketch out is neither another CARES Act to float the entire economy, nor a typical stimulus bill for a nation that’s ready to get back to normal.

“Our country is in a complex middle ground between those two things. We can’t go back to April, and we can’t snap our fingers and finish the vaccine overnight. We need to carve out a “new normal.”

“So Senate Republicans are continuing to discuss these and other ideas among our conference and with the Administration. This majority will be laying down another historic proposal very soon.

“But here in the Senate, an outcome will require bipartisan discussions.

“I do not believe there will be anything in our bill that our Democratic colleagues should not happily support. But we will stand ready and eager to work together and produce a bipartisan outcome.

“As I said yesterday, in March, the Senate gave an historic master class in how to pass major bipartisan legislation.

“The CARES Act, the largest rescue package ever, was drafted by Republicans, promptly negotiated across the aisle with Democrats, and then passed urgently without a single dissenting vote.

“But last month, in June, we recorded a master class in how not to make a law. Instead of amending Senator Tim Scott’s JUSTICE Act, our Democratic colleagues flat-out blocked it. They filibustered the issue of police reform altogether.

“Well, for the sake of America’s kids, jobs, and healthcare, let’s hope our Democratic friends bring their bipartisan urgency and good faith to this process, and leave the partisan poses behind.

“The Senate has led every step of this crisis.

“We need to rise to the task one more time.”

Related Issues: Jobs, Education, Small Business, Economy, COVID-19, Health Care