McConnell on Targeted COVID Relief: “Let’s Get This Done”
‘For months, literally months, both sides in Congress have known roughly what the shape of a compromise rescue package could look like. We know all the areas where we do not even disagree, and should be able to make significant law… The Republican side wants to make law, to agree where we can and help people who need it. I hope and believe that my Democratic colleagues feel the same way.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding COVID-19 relief:
“This past weekend we saw that the historic, nationwide effort to bring this pandemic to heel has begun a critical final chapter.
“After months of development, the first U.S. doses of a COVID-19 vaccine rolled off the assembly line, bound for treatment facilities across the country.
“I’m particularly proud that an important waypoint on that journey is my hometown of Louisville, Kentucky.
“Yesterday alone, Pfizer shipped 2.5 million vaccine doses. And less than an hour after their airlift began, shipments bound for the eastern United States were passing through the UPS Worldport logistics hub at Muhammed Ali International Airport.
“In the days and weeks ahead, the hard work of Kentuckians at UPS’s new Healthcare Command Center in Louisville will play a critical role in finishing this fight.
“Already, they’ve helped direct tens of thousands of doses to Kentucky hospitals, where they’re being administered to the Commonwealth’s healthcare workers and most at-risk residents.
“There’s a historic success story being written today along the vaccine supply chain, from Missouri to Massachusetts to Michigan to Kentucky to front lines across the country. And it’s emblematic of an approach that has been helping our country since the earliest days of this crisis.
“From the personal precautions that helped save our health system.
“To the bravery of the doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers who spent sleepless nights tending to victims of the virus.
“To the ingenuity of entrepreneurs who have spun out masks and sanitizer or kept serving their customers safely.
“To the patience of parents and schoolkids who have had to adapt in extraordinary ways.
“To our economic efforts to blunt the pain of a self-inflicted slowdown without precedent.
“All along the way, it has been the heroic, resilient American people fighting and winning this battle — with the government providing smart, targeted, and essential support to sustain them.
“It’s the American people who have brought the light at the end of the tunnel within sight. But Washington has played a key role in creating the conditions for them to do it.
“That joint effort is how the unanimous, bipartisan CARES Act programs helped sustain struggling families, prevented millions more layoffs, and gave Main Street a fighting chance.
“It’s how Operation Warp Speed has helped unleash private enterprise and the genius of researchers on a breakneck campaign for a cure that, just a few months ago, the mainstream media was lecturing President Trump would be impossible.
“At every step, the story of this year has been American workers and families digging deep, muscling through, and lending one another a helping hand, with an assist from us in Congress.
“But there’s a problem. The American people’s work is not finished. The struggle continues every day. Cases and deaths are mounting. The commerce that sustains small businesses is still depressed.
“Working families are still trying to grind through… but recently, Washington has not held up its end of the bargain.
“For months, literally months, both sides in Congress have known roughly what the shape of a compromise rescue package could look like. We know all the areas where we do not even disagree, and should be able to make significant law.
“But partisan dynamics and political posturing have prevented us from getting more relief out the door, even in areas where nobody even claims to disagree.
“I don’t want to relitigate the last weeks and months this afternoon. Anyone who wants to dole out blame has a clear record they can analyze.
“But it is time for this body to collectively recognize that finger-pointing doesn’t put food on the table for struggling families.
“Finger-pointing doesn’t help people avoid having to choose between Christmas gifts and making rent. And finger-pointing does not do a darn thing to fund vaccine distribution so we can slam the door on this virus as fast as possible and maximize the number of lives we can save.
“That last point is a concern that state health officials across the country have raised repeatedly.
“Even with vaccines on the way, many are reporting they don’t have the funds to hire enough trained workers or purchase enough PPE to safely administer them as fast as possible.
“As one health observer put it, quote, ‘It would be a shame if all the effort on Warp Speed for development isn’t warp speed for distribution.’
“But that is what we risk if Congress can’t get our act together and supply the funds to deliver this literal shot in the arm to our people.
“This is the support that state and local governments need most urgently. Not unfettered slush funds for non-COVID-related needs that predate the pandemic; but incredibly urgent, targeted money to get citizens vaccinated and finish this fight.
“But that isn’t the only urgent priority that Congress must not leave behind.
“The same small business owners and working families who relied on the Paycheck Protection Program to get them through the bleakest points of the spring and summer are once again facing tough choices.
“Renewed health restrictions and decreased demand mean that some American jobs that have been sustained all this way may not survive this last home stretch.
“We can help. We can provide a second round of the job-saving PPP, tailored to those who need it most.
“And what about Americans who have already lost their jobs this pandemic, through no fault of their own? Several key unemployment programs are set to expire at the end of this month.
“That is not an outcome that struggling people deserve, least of all during the holiday.
“We should act.
“So, the next several days are going to bring about one of two outcomes.
“Either 100 Senators will be here shaking our heads, slinging blame, and offering excuses about why we still have not been able to make a law… or we will break for the holidays having sent another huge dose of relief out the door for the people who need it.
“It’s up to us. We decide. This is entirely within our control.
“The Republican side wants to make law, to agree where we can and help people who need it.
“I hope and believe that my Democratic colleagues feel the same way.
“So let’s get this done.”
Related Issues: Education, Small Business, Health Care, COVID-19, Senate Democrats