McConnell on Pandemic Recovery: “We Need to Start with the Needs of the Nation”
‘The American people deserve for the conversation about next steps to begin with them and their needs. Not partisan rush jobs. Not talking points.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding pandemic recovery:
“This pandemic hit our nation with compounding layers of crisis. American families have faced a health crisis, a jobs crisis, a small business crisis, an education crisis, and frankly a social and community crisis, all piled on top of one another.
“In response, Congress has built the largest federal response to any crisis since the Second World War. By far. In the last 11 months, we have passed five major bipartisan rescue packages that sent about $4 trillion to fight the virus and help American families.
“For context, total net spending by the entire federal government back in 2019 was $4.4 trillion. We have borrowed and spent almost as much fighting COVID-19 as the federal government spent on everything in 2019.
“Our national debt is now larger than the size of our entire economy for the first time since World War II.
“This crisis has been historic. So has the federal response.
“The American people deserve for the conversation about next steps to begin with them and their needs. Not partisan rush jobs. Not talking points. We need to start with the needs of the nation.
“The most recent package, another $900 billion, was literally passed six weeks ago.
“Let’s talk about where we are now.
“On the health front: We’ve come through a terrible year. We’ve lost more than 450,000 Americans and counting. But our healthcare heroes held the line.
“The genius of science plus Operation Warp Speed produced vaccines in record time.
“And this new Administration’s stated goal of 1 million shots per day is exactly the pace they inherited from the prior team.
“As we speak, nearly half of the money Congress has sent for testing and about two-thirds of our funding for vaccine distribution is still in the pipeline. That money has yet to be spent.
“Let’s talk about jobs. Last year, states had to take one of the best job markets in American history — with layoffs and firings at 20-year lows — and slam on the brakes to protect public health.
“We spent historic sums to soften that blow.
“Two waves of direct payment hit families’ bank accounts. Multiple rounds of the Paycheck Protection Program have helped small-business workers stay employed. We passed and extended extra federal jobless benefits.
“As a result, even as economic production fell last year, total personal income actually went up. We saw the largest annual increase in disposable income in almost 40 years. Household savings have shot up. Things are even looking up in the service sector, where literally yesterday, a key measure of optimism hit a two-year high.
“There is no doubt that some families are still struggling. This isn’t finished. But experts agree the remaining damage to our economy does not require another multi-trillion-dollar, non-targeted band-aid.
“Then there’s education. Temporary emergency measures have sadly become an enduring new normal for students, parents, and teachers. But again, the horizon looks bright: Mounting evidence confirms that in-person schooling is remarkably safe with smart and basic precautions.
“Let me say that again. The Biden Administration’s own scientists say school can be quite safe and kids should be back in person. Dr. Fauci says ‘we need to try and get the children back to school… it’s less likely for a child to get infected in the school setting than if they were just in the community.’
“The new CDC Director, Dr. Walensky, says: ‘I want to be clear… there is increasing data to suggest that schools can safely reopen, and… safe reopening does not suggest that teachers need to be vaccinated… [as] a prerequisite.’
“These experts are not looking at hypothetical data conditioned on Congress pouring even more huge sums into schools. They are describing the science right now.
“Just six weeks ago, Congress sent another huge sum to help schools. It brought the total for K-12 to about $68 billion. As of the latest update only $4 billion of that has been spent. 94% of the K-12 funding we have already provided is still in the pipeline, unspent.
“So our nation stands at a turning point on all these fronts. A dark year is in the rear-view mirror. Brighter days are already starting to dawn. And much of the groundwork for a strong recovery is already in place.
“It will not serve Americans to pile another huge mountain of debt on our grandkids for policies that even liberal economists say are poorly-targeted to current needs.
“It will not serve Americans to ram through a one-size-fits-all minimum wage hike that the CBO says would kill more than a million jobs for the most vulnerable workers, affect states unequally, and already has bipartisan opposition.
“This is no time to send wheelbarrows of cash to state and local governments that they simply, factually, do not need. Nonpartisan economists say states and localities are already, quote, ‘well positioned to weather the storm,’ with ‘additional needs [that are] far less than the $500 billion… in the Biden [plan].’
“By the way, state and local tax receipts already fully rebounded in Q3 to their highest level in American history. This is no time to ignore the science on school safety in order to chase moving goalposts from Big Labor, and pour endless sums into school districts that unions will not allow to reopen.
“If you combine the Democrats’ new proposal with what just became law six weeks ago, the December law plus this new proposal would dwarf the size of the CARES Act — which sustained the country through months of lockdowns.
“This is not the time for trillions more dollars to make perpetual lockdowns and economic decline a little more palatable. This is the time to focus on our smart, targeted bridge to the day when we end this chapter and win this fight.
“Notwithstanding the actual needs, notwithstanding all the talk about bipartisan unity, Democrats in Congress are plowing ahead. They’re using this phony budget to set the table to ram through their $1.9 trillion rough draft.
“Last year, the Democratic Leader kept saying “we need a true, bipartisan bill.” He said, quote, “sitting in your own office, writing a bill, and then demanding the other side support it is not anyone’s idea of bipartisanship.”
“That was then. This is now. Now Democrats reject the bipartisan approach that built all five of our historic COVID packages.
“Let’s hope President Biden remembers the governing approach he promised and changes course.
“In the meantime, if we’re to debate this phony, partisan budget, we will create some clarity for the American people.
“We’re going to put Senators on the record.
“Expect votes to stop Washington from actively killing jobs during a recovery — like terminating the Keystone pipeline; that job-killing, one-size-fits-all minimum wage hike; and whether to bar tax hikes on small businesses for the duration of this emergency.
“Expect votes that would help target this plan toward Americans’ needs. Issues like stimulus checks for illegal immigrants… pouring money into schools where unions are blocking reopening… and the common sense step of delaying new spending until existing funds have actually gone out the door.
“We’ll see what this resolution looks like on the other side — and what signals Democrats send to the American people along the way.”
Related Issues: Economy, Senate Democrats, Education, Budget, Jobs, Health Care, Keystone XL Pipeline, COVID-19