McConnell: Continuing to Fight COVID-19 Will Take “Smart, Bipartisan Actions”
‘As the $900 billion package from five weeks ago continues to come online, and as remaining needs continue to come into focus, Republicans will be ready and eager to continue bipartisan discussions about smart steps forward for the American people.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding COVID-19:
“Our nation has spent nearly a year locked in this terrible battle with COVID-19.
“This virus that spread from China around the world has taken more than 400,000 American lives. It’s effectively cost many children an entire school year. It made us slam the brakes on one of the best job markets in modern history and threw millions of families into financial chaos.
“But thanks to a lot of hard work in 2020, the dawn of 2021 has brought a turning point.
“The genius of science and the support of Operation Warp Speed produced vaccines in record time. And in December, after months of delay, Democrats finally let Congress move ahead with another major rescue package.
“The light at the end of the tunnel is getting closer. And both Republicans and Democrats want to continue working together to accelerate victory.
“Curiously, the President’s candidate to run the Department of Health and Human Services is the famously partisan Attorney General of California. His recent experience in health policy seems largely limited to promoting abortion on-demand and suing groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor who dare to live out their religious convictions.
“In an interview yesterday, Mr. Becerra compared the current state of vaccinations inherited by the Biden Administration to an airplane in a nosedive. A disaster.
“He contrasted the status quo with the new Administration’s stated goal of 1 million vaccinations per day, which he called, quote ‘ambitious.’
“There’s a problem. Even the press has repeatedly pointed it out. It’s that our nation is already meeting that very pace.
“That’s not a big new goal. It’s exactly what they’ve inherited from the Trump Administration and Operation Warp Speed.
“Inauguration Day, Thursday, and Friday each topped 1 million vaccinations. As of today we’re averaging 1.16 million shots per day over the last week.
“They’re claiming the exact same number can be either a total catastrophe or a smashing success, depending on whether Democrats are in power.
“So much for science without politics.
“Here’s how the Washington Post put it: ‘The accelerating speed of the [vaccine] program undercuts assertions by some Biden advisers that they were left no plan by the Trump administration, and suggests they need only to keep their feet on the pedal to clear the bar they set for themselves.’ End quote.
“Yesterday, Mr. Becerra was asked about increasing vaccinations in the months ahead. Here’s what he said: ‘I first have to be sworn in to give you a timeline.’
“Perhaps that’s like the time the Speaker of the House famously said she had to pass a bill before the public could learn what was in it.
“The new Administration campaigned heavily on having a new master plan to fight the pandemic.
“But now that they’re in office, President Biden has said, quote, ‘there’s nothing we can do to change the trajectory of the pandemic in the next several months.’ And his Administration is apparently content to maintain the same vaccine pace they inherited.
“Let’s talk about Congress’s role in pandemic relief. Our Democratic colleagues spent last summer and fall using the legislative filibuster to delay the next rescue package until after the election.
(That would be the same tool that some Senate Democrats now suddenly say they oppose, as if they hadn’t leaned on it liberally for the last six years.)
“But finally, last month, they let us act. We passed another package totaling nearly $900 billion in urgent relief.
“We provided more than $80 billion to help K-12 schools… $280 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program… billions more for federal unemployment insurance supplements, nutrition and rental assistance, and direct cash aid… and massive new investments in purchasing and distributing vaccines.
“Some of that money has already gone out the door. Other portions are still unspent. A massive, historic, almost-trillion-dollar package that was passed into law just five weeks ago.
“Since last March, Washington D.C. has spent an historic amount of money standing up one of the most enormous policy responses by any government to any emergency that the world has ever seen. Nobody thinks the support has been perfect. Far from it. But it has been historic and strong.
“For example, a nonpartisan study in November showed that, because of the historic emergency legislation passed through Congress, American personal income was actually higher in September than it had been before the pandemic.
“Last month, Larry Summers, President Clinton’s Treasury Secretary and President Obama’s NEC Director, confirmed that — relative to our underlying economy — our multiple rescue packages have brought American household income all the way back to a level that equals or even exceeds what he’d expect if we weren’t in a crisis.
“To be clear, nobody thinks our bipartisan work fighting this pandemic is completely finished. Nobody’s arguing that.
“And we all understand that overall national statistics do not explain away the terrible struggles facing many families.
“But experts and economists from the left to the right agree:
“Any further action should be smart and targeted, not just an imprecise deluge of borrowed money that would direct huge sums toward those who don’t need it.
“That’s why the new Administration’s first draft of their sprawling proposal misses the mark. And press reports make clear this is not just a Republican view; multiple Democratic Senators agree it’s not the right path forward.
“So as the $900 billion package from five weeks ago continues to come online, and as remaining needs continue to come into focus, Republicans will be ready and eager to continue bipartisan discussions about smart steps forward for the American people.
“Bipartisan action helped our nation endure the last year. Bipartisan action helped us turn the corner. And it will be smart, bipartisan actions that help us finish this fight.”
Related Issues: Jobs, Health Care, Education, Economy, COVID-19