McConnell on the HEALS Act: “Republicans Are Ready to Govern”
‘Our nation stands at a challenging crossroads. We have one foot in this pandemic and one foot in the recovery… do the Speaker of the House and the Democratic Leader believe that struggling Americans deserve an outcome, or do they want to stay on the sidelines and recite talking points?’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding the HEALS Act:
“Yesterday, Senate Republicans put forward the HEALS Act — our framework for another round of historic relief for American workers and families.
“Our nation stands at a challenging crossroads. We have one foot in this pandemic and one foot in the recovery. We can’t go back to April, and until we have a vaccine, we can’t go back to normal either.
“What the American people need is a smart, safe, and sustainable middle ground. And they need Congress’s help to construct it.
“That’s exactly what our major proposal would do.
“Now, everyone knows that another rescue package will need to be bipartisan to pass the Senate. So the question before the country is now simple.
“Are we going to see the versions of House and Senate Democrats that helped us unanimously pass the CARES Act in March? Or are we instead going to see the same Democrats who decided to block police reform in June, and lash out at Senator Tim Scott’s proposal instead of working with him to make law?
“In other words, do the Speaker of the House and the Democratic Leader believe that struggling Americans deserve an outcome, or do they want to stay on the sidelines and recite talking points?
“Well, yesterday, even before Democrats had seen our legislation, they began attacking it. All the tired, old, partisan tropes were trotted out.
“For releasing a proposal that wants to give schools even more reopening money than the House Democrats’ bill, and which would continue additional federal unemployment benefits at eight times the dollar amount that Democrats established during the last crisis, we were informed here on the floor that, quote, “those Republican hard-right money people… don’t want the federal government to help anybody.”
“It’s beyond parody. Republicans put forward a trillion-dollar proposal for kids, jobs, and healthcare -- including direct cash to households and even more cash to unemployed people -- and the Democrats say it proves we don’t want to help people.
“These are not serious statements. It’s politics as usual with talking points that went stale 20 years ago. But the week is young. And the HEALS Act is full of provisions that I would frankly dare my Democratic colleagues to actually say they oppose.
“Republicans want to extend supplemental unemployment insurance at hundreds of dollars per week. If Democrats block legislation, it will stop altogether.
“Republicans want to send thousands of dollars more to American families through direct payments. If Democrats won’t come to the table, they’ll get nothing.
“Republicans want to use tax incentives to encourage the rehiring of laid-off workers and the creation of safer workplaces through things like testing, remodeling, and PPE. If Democrats block action, workers will be on their own.
“Republicans want to specifically protect Medicare seniors from a spike in premiums because of COVID-19. If Democrats treat the HEALS Act like they treated police reform, seniors will be on their own, too.
“Republicans want to pour money into K-12 schools and give greater flexibility to childcare providers so that America’s kids can have a safe but more normal school year. If Democrats block action, school districts will get none of it.
“Republicans want to create a second, targeted round of the PPP to keep Main Street small businesses above water. If Democrats won’t negotiate, the “Now Open” signs will come down and “Going Out of Business” signs will replace them.
“Republicans want to proactively expand our domestic manufacturing capability for masks and PPE and medical countermeasures. If Democrats refuse to negotiate, we’ll be just as dependent on adversaries and competitors in the next crisis.
“Republicans want to protect doctors, nurses, school districts, and universities from a second epidemic of frivolous lawsuits. If Democrats don’t come to the table, our nation’s re-opening will be at the mercy of trial lawyers.
“Republicans want to go even further to backstop hospitals and healthcare providers and fuel the sprint for vaccines. If Democrats won’t let us, Americans will just have to cross our fingers and hope the medical system remains stable.
“To be clear, Republicans are not proposing to “cut” any relief.
“Under current law, expanded UI expires and is replaced with nothing. Under current law, there are no more direct payments and no second PPP. Every single thing we’ve put forward is a way to get more relief into people’s hands.
“Our Democratic colleagues want to pretend it is controversial that taxpayers should not pay people more not to work than the people who do go back to work.
“The American people don’t call that a controversy. They call that common sense. They call that basic fairness.
“This is absolutely a time to be generous and provide additional federal relief to people who’ve been laid off. But we should not be redistributing money away from the essential workers who have remained at their posts.
“We should not be taxing somebody who’s been stocking shelves for months so the government can pay her neighbor more than she makes to sit at home.
“That’s what we are talking about. Taxing essential workers to pay their neighbors a bonus to stay home.
“One study by university economists just found that these benefits can exceed people’s previous incomes two-thirds of the time. They found the median recipient earns 134% of their prior salary.
“That means half are making even more than that.
“It’s not fair. It’s not compatible with an re-opening economy. And more than 6 in 10 Americans feel this creates a disincentive to work.
“Even the Democratic House Majority Leader said just this morning that our perspective, quote, “has some validity to it and we ought to deal with that… it’s not $600 or bust.”
“That’s the Democratic Majority Leader over in the House. Quote: “It’s not $600 or bust.” So let’s get past the partisan cheap-shots and have an adult conversation.
“Look at it this way.
“Think about one street, one block, in one neighborhood, anywhere in America. Think how they would benefit if this bill were signed into law.
“Right now, several families on that block probably have no idea whether their kids will be heading back to school in a few weeks. Our bill would provide the money and legal certainty for school districts to re-open safely.
“Now let’s talk about the families’ pocketbooks. Likely every mailbox on that street, or each checking account, would get another $1,200 per adult and $500 per dependent. For a family of four, we’re talking about $3,400 in cash.
“Maybe some of these homeowners are among the millions of Americans who’ve been thrown into joblessness.
“As we’ve discussed, they’d get hundreds of dollars more every week in added unemployment.
“But because we’re doing it smarter, if anyone on the street owns a coffee shop or contracting business, they won’t hear from workers that they are earning more by staying at home.
“And those unemployed workers will get back on the job faster when our bill super-charges incentives for rehiring and helps pay for health and safety in the workplace.
“Maybe some other people on this street have held onto their jobs because of the historic Paycheck Protection Program. But their employer is considering closing down, with that relief nearly exhausted.
“Our targeted second round of the PPP could keep their paycheck coming instead of a pink slip.
“Maybe a retired couple lives on this block. If our proposal for Medicare Part B premiums becomes law, they’ll be protected from a spike in costs due to this pandemic.
“And needless to say, every single person on that street would benefit from even stronger federal investments in the diagnostics, treatments, and vaccines that will ultimately win this healthcare battle for all of us.
“So, look. It’s very simple. Partisan histrionics will not get any American family any of the relief I just described.
“Calling names will not get school districts one dime.
“Washington finger-pointing will not add one cent to anyone’s unemployment check.
“Democrats face a simple choice.
“They can come to the table, work with Republicans, and engage seriously to make law for the American people. Or they can stay on the sidelines, point fingers, and let another rescue package go the same way as the police reform bill they killed in June.
“Republicans are ready to govern. We just need Democrats to decide whether they are serious about making law.”
Related Issues: Education, Jobs, Economy, Middle Class, Small Business, COVID-19, Taxes, Senate Democrats, Health Care