McConnell Celebrates Historic Bipartisan Agreement on Pandemic Relief and Government Funding
Yesterday, leaders in the Senate, in the House, and the Secretary of the Treasury reached the major agreement that struggling Americans have needed for months. We are going to pass another historic rescue package to help American families through this pandemic. We are going to pass full-year government funding so the Armed Forces and all federal departments have the resources and the certainty they need. And we are going to do both these things as soon as possible.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding appropriations and COVID-19 relief:
“Yesterday, leaders in the Senate, in the House, and the Secretary of the Treasury reached the major agreement that struggling Americans have needed for months.
“We are going to pass another historic rescue package to help American families through this pandemic. We are going to pass full-year government funding so the Armed Forces and all federal departments have the resources and the certainty they need. And we are going to do both these things as soon as possible.
“Senate Republicans have been trying since July to get more targeted, bipartisan relief into the hands of the American people.
“In July, we proposed to send about $1 trillion to priorities including a second round of the Paycheck Protection Program, direct checks for households, and funding for healthcare providers, testing, and K-12 schools.
“Democrats said no. They said they’d block anything short of their multi-trillion-dollar left-wing wish list.
“Here was one headline: ‘$2 trillion or bust: Democrats draw red line in coronavirus spending battle.’
“So in July and August, when Republican Senators tried to extend expiring federal unemployment benefits, Democrats blocked us. Laid-off workers lost their benefits.
“In September and again in October, as people kept hurting, the virus kept spreading, and schools tried to find footing, every Republican voted for a multi-hundred-billion-dollar package.
“Both times, Democrats blocked the relief. All-or-nothing.
“But a few days ago, with a new President-elect of their own party, everything changed. Democrats suddenly came around to our position that we should find consensus, make law where we agree, and get urgent help out the door.
“In a few days of hard work, we’ve assembled another historic, bipartisan, rescue package. Just under $900 billion of relief targeted toward our fellow Americans who need help the most.
“I’ll begin where this pandemic will end: vaccinations. Thanks to the genius of science and the leadership of President Trump, Operation Warp Speed has produced safe and effective vaccines. Now we need to distribute them nationwide. This rescue package provides many billions more dollars to expand vaccine purchasing and distribution.
“Until we have won, we need to keep wearing masks and taking precautions. Even so, more Americans will fall ill. So this legislation continues to fund health providers and COVID testing.
“The pandemic has fallen especially hard on children and parents. Our legislation includes major funding, more than $80 billion, for K-12 schools to reopen safely and get kids’ educations back on track. There are billions more for childcare providers to reopen safely as well. And new investments in rural broadband will improve both education and telehealth down the road.
“And then, there are Americans’ personal finances. The impossible kitchen-table questions that millions of working families have faced this year, through no fault of their own.
“Back in March, thanks to Chairman Rubio, Senator Collins, and Senator Cardin, we created the Paycheck Protection Program. It’s saved small businesses and helped millions of American workers keep receiving paychecks rather than pink slips.
“It would be insanity for us to have saved these jobs all this time only to drop the ball with the end in sight. So this bill will send more than $280 billion to re-open the PPP for a targeted second round. And we made sure churches and faith-based organizations will stay eligible.
“Of course, millions have already been laid off. So, months after Republicans tried to stop benefits from expiring in the first place, this package will resume a temporary federal supplement to unemployment insurance. And it extends other programs for self-employed and gig workers that would have expired.
“Thanks to the particular leadership and direction of President Trump and Secretary Mnuchin, households will receive a second round of direct relief checks — $600 per adult and per child.
“This is just some of the aid that will be heading Americans’ way in a matter of hours.
“No sprawling left-wing wish list. No unconstrained bailouts for state and local governments, with no connection to COVID needs. Just smart, targeted, bipartisan policies.
“I cited a figure of $900 billion. But listen to this: The net new cost is less than roughly $350 billion. We are recovering more than half a trillion dollars in unspent money that Congress had already set aside and channeling it to these urgent needs.
“And thanks to our colleague Senator Toomey this legislation winds down some of the temporary emergency powers we lent the Federal Reserve to make sure our financial system survived last spring.
“A lot of talented leaders helped make this happen. Leader McCarthy has been an invaluable partner. White House Chief of Staff Meadows has been central.
“Colleagues such as Senators Collins, Murkowski, Romney, Cassidy, and Portman helped prod the Senate toward consensus with their bipartisan work. And I just mentioned Senator Toomey.
“I want to give particular thanks to the Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin.
“Before the pandemic, Steven was already a crucial partner for the Republican majorities in Congress. We enacted the most consequential tax reform in a generation.
“We helped create the conditions for explosive job growth, wage growth, and record-low unemployment. Our country had the strongest-possible starting point to weather this storm.
“This year, the Secretary has been even more essential. He helped Congress develop and pass the historic CARES Act in record time. It prevented a complete economic collapse at the hands of this virus.
“From drafting CARES, to implementing it, to the intervening months, to this latest package, Secretary Mnuchin has been an extremely capable and patient partner.
“He’s helped guide our nation through this dark period toward the daybreak that lies ahead. On behalf of the Senate and the country, I thank the Secretary for his countless hours of work and his incredible effectiveness in extraordinary times.
“While this rescue package will dominate headlines, we’re also set to fund the entire federal government on a bipartisan basis.
“We must not overlook the tireless work from Chairman Shelby, Senator Leahy, and our Appropriations Committees in both chambers.
“Their hard work goes beyond just avoiding shutdowns.
“Full-year funding bills give our Armed Forces the certainty to make plans and budgets, so we can continue to modernize our capabilities and keep pace with competitors like Russia and China.
“This year’s bills also tackle important domestic priorities.
“Everything from agriculture research to the fight against opioid abuse to border security and law enforcement are provided for.
“We aren’t defunding the police or abolishing ICE around here. Not on our watch.
“Federal law enforcement from the U.S. Marshals to the Border Patrol will get the resources they need to protect innocent Americans and uphold the rule of law.
“And I want to especially thank Chairman Shelby and Congresswoman Granger for beating back a number of far-left poison pills.
“These bills maintain pro-life guardrails on funding, secure President Trump’s approach to Title X, and respect our citizens’ Second Amendment rights.
“The Senate is about to cast some incredibly impactful votes. None of us think any of this legislation is perfect.
“But a big, bipartisan majority of us recognize the incredible amount of good it will do when we send it on to the President’s desk.
“The American people have waited long enough.
“I am glad for our country that we are now moving ahead together.”
Related Issues: Education, Economy, Small Business, COVID-19, Senate Democrats, Health Care, Jobs