McConnell Outlines Major Coronavirus Relief Proposal: “It Is Critical That We Move Swiftly and Boldly”
‘The American people are strong. They are brave. There is no doubt the American people will come through this battle, and then soar to new heights on the other side. The American people will win this fight against the virus. The Senate’s job is to give them the tools they need. And we are not leaving until we do our job.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding coronavirus legislation:
“Yesterday, President Trump and his team announced several new actions to help contain and combat the coronavirus.
“The President invoked the Defense Production Act, laying groundwork to manufacture more medical equipment.
“The Department of Health and Human Services will let medical professionals practice across state lines.
“The Department of Defense will deploy hospital ships and transfer millions of respirator masks and thousands of ventilators to HHS.
“The FDA will deepen partnerships with commercial laboratories to expand testing.
“The Department of Housing and Urban Development will suspend foreclosures and evictions on FHA-insured mortgages.
“And the Department of Homeland Security reached a mutual agreement with Canada to close our northern border to non-essential travel.
“Major steps, as we confront a major crisis.
“Here in the Senate, we’re preparing to take further bold steps of our own.
“Yesterday we passed legislation from the House that will provide some American workers with additional benefits during this emergency.
“As I explained yesterday, that legislation was hardly perfect. It imposes new costs and uncertainty on small businesses at precisely the most challenging moment for small businesses in living memory.
“So the Senate is even more determined that our legislation cannot leave small business behind.
“Support for small business is one of the four key components of the much bolder proposal we are finalizing. Chairman Rubio and Chairman Collins have been crafting a major plan to help small business survive this crisis and help workers continue to get paid.
“We’re talking about new federally-guaranteed loans, on the order of hundreds of billions of dollars, to address immediate cash-flow problems.
“No massive new bureaucracy. We want to let qualified small businesses get liquidity through familiar institutions — their own community banks, credit unions, or nationwide lenders.
“As Chairman Collins explained yesterday, owners will not be able to use the funds to give themselves raises or increase their own profits.
“The point is to help small businesses endure this, help workers keep their jobs, and help both businesses and workers emerge from this ready to thrive.
“As Chairman Rubio explained, the portions of these funds that small businesses use on core expenses such as paying workers and paying their rent or mortgage will convert into grants they will not need to pay back. This will make sure that even lower-profit-margin Main Street businesses get a fighting chance to stay open and continue paying workers.
“This is straightforward: A rapid injection of cash to help small businesses through this turmoil.
“Not some brand-new program with a long lead time, but an existing program that’s been tested.
“The second major pillar of our legislation will be even more straightforward: Direct financial help for Americans.
“Senate Republicans want to put cash in the hands of the American people.
“Chairman Grassley and a number of our colleagues are finalizing a structure that will get assistance to individuals and families as rapidly as possible.
“No tangled Washington process with a thousand cooks in the kitchen. No piles of forms for laid-off workers or busy families to fill out.
“Money for people. From the middle class on down. Period.
“For laid-off Americans, this infusion would complement unemployment insurance and could be put toward immediate needs during this crisis.
“For Americans who are still working, the money would provide some extra certainty in this uniquely uncertain time, and help remind everyone that temporary shutdowns of bars and restaurants do not mean all commerce has to halt.
“For retirees, the money would complement Social Security and help seniors navigate the unusual routines that have suddenly become necessary for their own safety.
“And so on.
“This is a form of emergency tax relief that we want to push to taxpayers right away. It’s not an ordinary policy, but this is no ordinary time.
“The American people need help fast. This will deliver it.
“Now, we believe this rapid assistance is crucial.
“But more broadly, we need to help keep as many Americans as possible on the job and connected to their employers.
“The small business relief will help. And so will a number of additional tax relief measures, which will be designed to help employers maintain cash flow and keep making payroll.
“Preserving employment and protecting economic foundations.
“That’s also why the third pillar of our proposal involves targeted lending to industries of national importance. Chairman Shelby, Chairman Wicker, and Senator Thune are leading this component.
“Just like small businesses, entire sectors are being crushed by public health guidance which is obviously no fault of their own.
“For example, our nation needs airlines. Yet they have ongoing maintenance costs that do not disappear just because the government has chased away customers. We cannot expect this key industry to mothball itself overnight, then dust off in weeks or months and pop right back online as the nation will need and expect.
“Let’s be clear about something. From small businesses to key sectors, we are not talking about so-called “bailouts” for firms that made reckless decisions.
“Nobody is alleging a moral hazard here. None of these firms — not corner stores, not pizza parlors, not airlines — brought this on themselves.
“We are not talking about a taxpayer-funded cushion for companies that made mistakes.
“We are talking about loans, which must be repaid, for American employers whom the government itself is temporarily crushing for the sake of public health.
“The fourth piece of our proposal goes to the heart of this crisis: the health of the American people.
“Chairmen Alexander and Grassley will be rolling out proposals to get more resources on the front lines of our fight against the virus itself.
“Because to be clear, nothing I’ve laid out so far will represent a typical economic stimulus in the way we think of that term.
“Nobody— nobody — expects that employment figures, or the stock market, or GDP growth will bounce right back to where they were a few weeks ago.
“No policy, no amount of money, could return things to normal overnight.
“There is an underlying medical reality that is driving this disruption.
“In the words of one journalist, this is primarily, quote, “a health crisis — with an economic crisis strapped to its back.”
“So, yes, our proposal will immediately help American workers, families, and businesses. Yes, it will help position our economy to thrive once again after this public health menace is behind us. This may not be the last economic legislation we pursue.
“But fundamentally, we have to beat back this virus.
“That’s why the health component of our proposal will go even further to remove barriers to care… speed innovation… fund the hospitals and health centers that will treat patients… and expand healthcare workers’ access to the tools they need, including respirator masks.
“And immediately after we pass this legislation, Congress must begin a bipartisan, bicameral appropriations process to address the Administration’s new supplemental funding request, so we can keep funding healthcare and other priorities.
“I think every American shares the sense that the last several days have felt more like several months.
“Just last Saturday, our nation had fewer than 3,000 confirmed cases, and 58 Americans had lost their lives. Already, the number of cases has nearly tripled. Tragically, so has the number of deaths.
“This crisis is moving fast. Our health system is under strain and our economy is hurting.
“The legislation I’ve just laid out will not be the last word. As I said, we’ll need to turn right away to a bipartisan appropriations process. This is not Congress’s last chance to legislate.
“But it is critical that we move swiftly and boldly to begin to stabilize our economy, preserve Americans’ jobs, get money to workers and families, and keep up our fight on the health front.
“That is exactly what our proposal will do.
“These are not ordinary policies. This is no ordinary time.
“The American people are strong. They are brave. There is no doubt the American people will come through this battle, and then soar to new heights on the other side.
“The American people will win this fight against the virus.
“The Senate’s job is to give them the tools they need.
“And we are not leaving until we do our job.”
Related Issues: Middle Class, Health Care, Economy, Small Business, Jobs