McConnell: The Senate Will Continue to Perform Our Own Essential Responsibilities

‘While COVID-19 rightly dominates headlines around the world, the United States of America also faced many serious threats before this virus began to spread, and they are still with us today.’

WASHINGTON, D.C.U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding the week’s business:

“The Senate is back for a second week in session and we have more important work to do for the American people.

“While our nation fights the coronavirus pandemic, many of our fellow Americans have been taking new safety precautions but continuing to show up to perform essential work.

“Because of delivery drivers and grocery clerks, families can keep food on their shelves.

“Because of utility workers, people hunkered down at home have power. Because of pharmacists manning their counters, Americans have been able to keep getting the medicines they need so this health crisis does not compound on itself.

“And then, of course, there has been the selfless work of so many doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals.

“Frankly, even the word “essential” does not do full justice to all the new American heroes we have met these past weeks. In my home state of Kentucky, we’ve met people like Leilani Krause. She’s a 30-year nursing veteran who now oversees care at a senior living facility in Louisville.

“A few weeks ago, she contracted the coronavirus herself. Even as she stayed home to recover, she never stopped working. She still did all she could to coordinate her patients’ care over video calls. And as soon as she felt better and doctors gave her the all-clear, she checked right back into work on the front lines.

“So I want to thank all of my Senate colleagues as we continue to perform our own essential responsibilities, to serve citizens like Ms. Krause and so many other American heroes across our country.

“Of course, much of the work before us relates to the pandemic itself. Our committees of jurisdiction are attacking COVID-19 and its effects from every angle.

“This week Chairman Alexander and our colleagues on the HELP Committee will hold a major hearing on smart and safe ways for Americans get back to work and back to school. They’ll hear expert testimony from the very top leaders: Dr. Fauci of the NIH, Dr. Redfield of the CDC, Dr. Hahn of the FDA, and Admiral Giroir from HHS.

“Chairman Crapo and the Banking Committee will hear from representatives of the Federal Reserve and FDIC on financial regulation. Obviously, that is an essential topic as the government continues to push out billions and billions of dollars of emergency liquidity following the CARES Act.

“With huge numbers of Americans working, teaching, and learning from home, and with telemedicine more important than ever, the Commerce Committee will hear from experts about access to broadband internet during the crisis.

“And the Judiciary Committee will hold an important hearing on issues of legal liability during this unprecedented time. It is crucial that as we continue to fight the pandemic itself, we ensure it is not followed up by a second job-killing epidemic of frivolous lawsuits.

“This would be just about the worst time in living memory to let trial lawyers line their pockets at the expense of the rest of our country. The Senate is going to play a strong role in ensuring that does not happen.

“While our committees are working away, here on the floor, we’ll start this week by confirming two more qualified nominees to important posts that should not remain empty at this time.

“We’ll begin with Brian Montgomery of Texas, named by President Trump to serve as Deputy Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Then, we’ll turn to Troy Edgar of California, tapped to be Chief Financial Officer at the Department of Homeland Security.

“Now I understand that some of my distinguished Democratic colleagues complain that the full Senate should not have to spend floor time on these sorts of uncontroversial executive-branch nominees. I agree. I agree.

“But as long as their own Democratic leadership continues to hold important posts empty for as long as possible in order to spite the White House…

As long as the minority continues to break from long-standing Senate precedent to obstruct even the least controversial nominees, then my friends will have to continue to show up and vote on them.

“The floor votes they say they dislike are the direct result of their own tactics.

“We’re also going to take up important legislation this week.

“While COVID-19 rightly dominates headlines around the world, the United States of America also faced many serious threats before this virus began to spread, and they are still with us today.

“So later this week, we will turn back towards reauthorizing important authorities under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

“This is urgent because the House refused to take up the Senate’s short-term extension of important counterterrorism and counterintelligence authorities before they left town.

“House Democrats let these tools expire. So we must act quickly to clean up their mess and renew these authorities which our government needs to fight terrorists and check the agents of China and Russia.

“The bipartisan bill we’ll take up was negotiated exhaustively by House Republicans and the Attorney General of the United States. Determined advocates for reform after the shameful abuses in 2016 sat down with determined defenders of the good parts of these tools, and they hammered out a strong compromise.

“The legislation will introduce more daylight and more accountability into the FISA process where appropriate, but will ensure the embarrassments of 2016 do not jeopardize these essential national security tools altogether.

“I hope the Senate will be able to dispatch the amendments that we will consider and pass this important legislation on a bipartisan basis to keep the American people safe.”

Related Issues: Jobs, Senate Democrats, COVID-19, Nominations, Health Care, National Security, Economy