McConnell on COVID-19 Recovery: “Our Nation Needs This Year to be Different”
‘Are we going to make this the year we reclaim our lives and retake our country — in a way that is safe, and smart, but determined? Washington D.C. gets a major say in this. But unfortunately, there seems to be some impulse on the Democratic side to act as though we were still stuck in April 2020, and were going to be stuck there for all of 2021... The American people do not deserve policies that presume 2021 will be a lot like 2020.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding COVID-19 recovery:
“The year just behind us will be remembered for the suffering, grief, and sacrifice it forced on our nation.
“Today, as our COVID-19 death toll passes 500,000, millions of Americans are feeling the pain of personal loss.
“But as we mark this terrible milestone, we stand here in early 2021 at what increasingly appears to be a crossroads. Far brighter days appear to be close at hand.
“So far, more than 63 million vaccine doses have been administered, and another 1.8 million Americans are now receiving a shot every day.
“At the same time, the rolling average of COVID-related deaths has fallen to barely half its January high. And mounting evidence suggests our economy is chomping at the bit to rebuild the prosperity we lost last year.
“We reached this threshold because, in part, of the historic, bipartisan work Congress built last year:
“From the job-saving Paycheck Protection Program... to Operation Warp Speed and its historically-successful sprint toward vaccines… to cushioning the blow for unemployed Americans… and so much more.
“We spent roughly $4 trillion last year. The largest peacetime fiscal expansion in American history by far. And the five bills passed the Senate 96 to 1… 90 to 8... 96 to 0... by voice vote… and 92 to 6.
“That got us to the crossroads. With a truly terrible 12 months behind us… but in a better position to move forward than many experts had predicted. Now the policies that Washington D.C. puts forward will help determine what kind of year 2021 will be for American families.
“Are we destined to spend a second year in a national defensive crouch? Are we going to surrender another school year to the pandemic… another year of elevated unemployment… another year of diminished social and community life?
“Or are we going to plant a flag and say this is the year that America comes roaring back?
“Are we going to make this the year we reclaim our lives and retake our country — in a way that is safe, and smart, but determined?
“Washington D.C. gets a major say in this. But unfortunately, there seems to be some impulse on the Democratic side to act as though we were still stuck in April 2020, and were going to be stuck there for all of 2021.
“The partisan legislation Democrats are preparing to ram through looks like something you’d pass to blunt another year of shutdowns; not to help guide a smart and proactive recovery. It looks more like another big bandage for a mostly shut-down country, rather than a launching pad to help us get back on offense.
“Look at schools. All the facts and hard evidence show that, with simple safety precautions, K-12 schools can and should be reopening safely right now. Yet the Biden Administration is going out of its way to avoid getting kids back in school.
“They have their own experts contradicting their own recent statements, and their own CDC backpedaling from the hard science, all to accommodate Big Labor’s goalpost-moving.
“Just look at the proposed money in their new partisan bill for K-12 schools. They call it an ‘emergency relief fund.’ But just 5% of the money they want would be spent in fiscal year 2021. 95% of this so-called emergency relief for schools would go out in fiscal 2022 and beyond.
“Or take the economy.
“Experts across the spectrum say that incomes, savings, job opportunities, and industry outlooks are already rebounding. Further aid needs to be smartly targeted so government doesn’t get in the way.
“But Democrats want to double down on band-aid policies like they’re planning for another year of stagnation, instead of trying to set up success.
“Almost every part of their draft reads like Democrats took the things they ideologically wanted to spend money on, and worked backwards, instead of starting with the actual state of the country, the actual needs of American families, and working forwards.
“Not terribly surprising. Remember, one senior House Democrat told everybody last spring this pandemic would be, quote, ‘a tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision.’
“I guess that’s why they’ve gone heavy on non-COVID-related liberal wish-list items… Like the job-killing minimum wage policy… the environmental justice grants… the wheelbarrows of cash for state and local governments, multiple times any serious estimate of remaining need… the attempts to expand taxpayer funding for abortions...
“They go heavy on all that, but light on practical solutions to get kids back in school, workers safely back on the job, and help the American people reclaim their lives from this microscopic foreign invader.
“The American people do not deserve policies that presume 2021 will be a lot like 2020.
“Our nation needs this year to be different.
“If the Administration were interested in policies to make that happen, they’d find the same kind of bipartisan support that every historic COVID-19 package has received so far.”