McConnell Update on Major Relief Legislation: “Bold Steps to Preserve and Protect the Economic Foundations of our Nation”
‘We’re going to pass the House’s bill. But its imperfections will just make our more comprehensive package even more urgent. So we aren’t leaving until we deliver it. The Senate is not going to leave small businesses behind.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding coronavirus:
“Every day, our country grows more affected by the continued spread of the coronavirus. Every American is feeling the anxiety and uncertainty of this national challenge. Older Americans and young Americans. Healthy Americans and those with underlying medical conditions. Parents and teachers. Working Americans and small business owners. Certainly our first responders and healthcare professionals.
“Everyone is impacted in different ways, and to different degrees — but all Americans are affected.
“All of us have seen our daily lives transformed in what feels like the blink of an eye.
“That’s the bad news — and it’s the good news, too. That we are all in this together.
“Our nation faces a serious challenge. But, working together, we can take bold steps to combat it.
“Earlier this month, Congress passed billions in urgent funding for public health and small businesses.
“And this Senate majority remains committed to taking further bold steps to preserve and protect the economic foundations of our country.
“Later today, the Senate will vote on a House proposal that seeks to address one small piece of the problem before us. It is a well-intentioned bipartisan product, assembled by House Democrats and President Trump’s team, that tries to stand up and expand some new relief measures for American workers.
“I will vote to pass their bill. This is a time for urgent bipartisan action, and in this case, I do not believe we should let perfection be the enemy of something that will help even a subset of workers.
“However, the House’s bill has real shortcomings. It does not even begin to cover all of the Americans who will need help in the days ahead. And more specifically, it achieves one of its signature policies by imposing a new, untested mandate on small businesses without guaranteeing they will have sufficient funds in advance to finance this new employee benefit.
“Everyone agrees that workers need relief. Republicans are working on bold solutions to help individuals and families as we speak. But small businesses need relief too.
“This is literally the worst time in living memory to pile even more burdens and costs onto small businesses, which are themselves fighting to stay alive, unless we back it up with major assistance.
“We all know what small businesses are up against. Just this week, New York City joined the list of towns and cities across the country where local officials have shuttered every bar and every restaurant for the sake of public health.
“At 5:00pm today, all public-facing businesses in my home state of Kentucky will do the same. These job creators are literally being taken offline by their own governments, for the public good.
“And it’s not only bars, restaurants, and entertainment businesses we need to worry about. Nobody expects Main Street small businesses of any sort to hold the kind of cash buffer they would need to remain in business and wait out a national economic disruption that could last for weeks or months.
“The men and women who pour their entire lives into small businesses do not need even more new obstacles. They need help. They need a lifeline.
“They need to know that Congress understands the historic obstacles they are facing, and that we have their back, too.
“There is no moral hazard here. This is not some rescue following risky business decisions. Nobody thinks any of this is the fault of small businesses.
“So — while I will support the House bill in order to secure some emergency relief for some American workers — I will not adjourn the Senate until we have passed a far bolder package that must include significant relief for small businesses across our nation.
“As we speak, Chairman Rubio, Senator Collins, and others are assembling an historic level of assistance for small businesses across America. We want to help them survive this disruption, absorb the new mandate in the House bill, continue to make payroll and avoid layoffs as much as they can, and emerge from this storm in the best shape possible.
“That means an historic injection of liquidity and access to credit. And it means Washington D.C. working directly with the lenders who already work with these small businesses, to minimize the new bureaucracy, so the assistance can flow as fast as possible.
"So we’re going to pass the House’s bill. But its imperfections will just make our more comprehensive package even more urgent. So we aren’t leaving until we deliver it.
“The Senate is not going to leave small businesses behind.
“This will be just one component of our work.
“As we speak, Chairman Grassley and others are determining the best pathway to put money directly in the hands of the American people. Those who are employed, those who may be laid off, retirees, disabled Americans, families. As quickly as possible.
“Of course, Chairman Alexander and a number of our colleagues are working on further steps in our public health fight against the virus itself — such as getting more tools in the hands of healthcare providers, removing barriers to treatment, and helping researchers develop therapeutics and vaccines.
“And Chairman Wicker and several senators are considering the possibility of targeted relief for key industries that are shouldering an outsized burden from the public health directives, and which our nation will need to be operational on the other side of this.
“We are crafting bold and significant legislation to meet this crisis head-on and strengthen our nation.
“The Congress has an enormous role to play in responding to this challenge. We are determined to do that duty.
“But at the same time, never in our nation’s history have Americans looked solely to Washington D.C. for answers. That’s not who we are.
“And this is no different. Even amidst the uncertainty, the American people are stepping up and reminding everyone what solidarity and citizenship look like.
“In my home state, Kentuckians are going out of their way to stand with their neighbors.
“Stay-at-home parents are volunteering to help neighbors with childcare when parents are unable to telework.
“Grocery stores in the Louisville area are setting aside the first hour they’re open each day, right after their cleaning, so older shoppers and those with underlying conditions can shop first and with less exposure.
“One local restaurant is distributing free meals to service-industry workers whose hours have been cut.
“This is what the United States of America has always been and this is what we are today. Generosity. Friendship. Resolve. And strength.
“This is not a challenge anyone wanted for our nation. But it is a challenge we will overcome.
“Someday, hopefully soon, our nation will have this virus on its heels. Main Street small businesses will be thriving again. Families will be flying around the country again, to reunite and catch up.
“We’ll have gotten through this, together.
“In part, it will be because the federal government and the Congress did our part.
“But just as important, it will also be because every single American did theirs.”
Related Issues: Health Care