It’s Time To Make Law Where There’s Broad Bipartisan Agreement On COVID Relief

There Are ‘Life-And-Death Issues’ Confronting The Country And Both Democrats And Republicans Agree On Core Assistance Provisions, Which Congress Should Pass As Soon As Possible And Leave Other Concerns For Later


SENATE MAJORITY LEADER MITCH McCONNELL (R-KY): “Yesterday, our colleague from Illinois, the Democratic Whip, gave an interview in which he named three examples of highly urgent matters that need to be addressed for our nation right now…. Extending unemployment insurance; helping small businesses; and funding vaccine distribution…. Those three urgent issues are issues where there is almost total bipartisan consensus. No real disagreement whatsoever. In fact, the framework for a smart, targeted relief package that I put forward last week — something which Democrats quickly attacked — would have resolved all three of those subjects. The targeted Republican framework extends unemployment insurance programs that will otherwise expire. It creates an entire second round of the Paycheck Protection Program for the hardest-hit small businesses. And it lays groundwork to distribute the vaccines that appear to be on the horizon…. The Democratic Whip is right to recognize these three subjects as especially urgent. They are! That’s why Republicans have been trying over and over to get them passed. That’s why Republicans have been saying for months that Speaker Pelosi and the Democratic Leader should let Congress get outcomes in all the places where we already agree, rather than holding everything hostage over their most controversial partisan demands.” (Sen. McConnell, Floor Remarks, 12/07/2020)

  • LEADER McCONNELL: “[M]onth after month after month, it is the Democratic leaders who have said that no relief whatsoever can pass, no consensus items can become law, unless multiple controversial areas where we don’t agree are resolved to the Democrats’ liking…. I think if the Senate Democratic Leader would allow it, the three things the Democratic Whip mentioned — small business aid, re-upping unemployment aid, and setting up vaccine distribution — could pass the Senate by a landslide. A targeted compromise on the most urgent items could pass by a massive bipartisan margin. We could easily put together a whole slew of commonsense policies  — like those three policies, and other commonsense things like legal protections that university presidents and the American Council on Education have been pleading for — bring it to the floor, and pass it. Everybody knows why that hasn’t happened. There’s one reason. The Speaker of the House and the Democratic Leader have spent months tying the most bipartisan, common-sense policies to their most controversial requests, and saying the country can’t get the former unless they get the latter. Their strategy has been all or nothing. And so struggling Americans have gotten nothing.” (Sen. McConnell, Floor Remarks, 12/07/2020)
  • LEADER McCONNELL: “We have seen some hopeful signs of engagement from our Democratic colleagues. But we have no reason to think the underlying disagreements about policy are going to evaporate overnight. Republicans and Democrats do not need to resolve every one of our differences to get badly-needed relief out the door. We just need both sides to finally do what members of Congress do when they’re serious about wanting an outcome: Drop the all-or-nothing tactics, drop the hostage-taking, and make law in the many places where we have common ground. That’s what this country is counting on. That’s how we can do right by the American people by Christmas.” (Sen. McConnell, Floor Remarks, 12/07/2020)


Yesterday, Sen. Durbin Emphasized The Necessity For A New COVID Relief Package To Include Unemployment Assistance, Help For Struggling Small Businesses, And Funding For Vaccine Distribution

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL), Senate Democratic Whip: “Think of the millions of people who are going to lose -- 12 million will lose their unemployment insurance the day after Christmas. Think of the businesses that are trying to decide now, in heartbreaking moments, whether or not they can continue. Think about the vaccination logistics that we serve with money in this bill. We want to make sure that this vaccine is on the road and vaccinating people all across America as quickly as possible. These are really life-and-death issues. We ought to address those quickly.” (ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” 12/06/2020)


All Of These Are Items Are Key Components Of Leader McConnell’s Targeted Relief Proposal

The following are included in the Senate GOP Targeted Relief Package proposed last week:

  • “The provision would extend the PUA [Pandemic Unemployment Assistance] program …”
  • “The provision would extend the PEUC [Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation] program …”
  • “The Continuing the Paycheck Protection Program Act would provide additional assistance to the hardest-hit small businesses that are struggling to recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic…. Establishes a second round of PPP loans for eligible businesses.”


Other Senate Democrats Have Previously Called For Including The Same Provisions In A Relief Package

PPP & SMALL BUSINESS ASSISTANCE: SEN. BEN CARDIN (D-MD): “Senator Rubio, the Republican chair [of the Senate Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee] -- I’m the Democratic ranking member-- we work well together. And we can come up with a [small business relief] package that could get bipartisan support…. [W]e do both agree that we need a second round of PPP…. I am convinced that if we have an overall bill that’s been agreed upon, the provisions concerning small business can be resolved very quickly, will be probably the first sector of this bill that could be-- that can be agreed to. We’ll come together, but we can’t do it in this partisan environment …” (Yahoo Finance’s “On the Move,” 10/20/2020)

VACCINE DISTRIBUTION FUNDING: SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): “[A] vaccine makes a greater need for a bill because it has to be distributed fairly and equitably and there needs to be education that it’s healthy and everything else.” (Sen. Schumer, Press Conference, 11/12/2020)

EXTENDING UNEMPLOYMENT ASSISTANCE: SENS. MARK WARNER (D-VA) and RON WYDEN (D-OR): “As the Senate considers the next coronavirus relief package, we urge you to include extensions of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program. We also urge you to include additional weeks of benefits for both programs…. Congress created these programs to patch up the holes in our social safety net during a global pandemic. Congress stood up the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program to disburse benefits to workers who would normally not be eligible for unemployment assistance for a variety of reasons…. Similarly, recognizing that most regular state unemployment programs provide only 26 weeks of coverage for workers … Congress also created the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program to provide an extension of unemployment benefits to the long-term unemployed who exhaust their regular unemployment benefits. Both of these programs are set to expire on December 26th, the day after Christmas.” (Sen. Warner, Press Release, 12/01/2020)

  • “Sens. Warner and Wyden were joined on this letter by Sens. Michael Bennet (D-CO), Chris Coons (D-DE), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Ed Markey (D-MA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Jack Reed (D-RI), Jacky  Rosen (D-NV), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Bob Casey (D-PA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Tina Smith (D-MN), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), and Angus King (I-ME).” (Sen. Warner, Press Release, 12/01/2020)


Secretary Mnuchin Has Said That The President Would Sign A Relief Legislation Based Around The Bipartisan Provisions Leader McConnell Has Put Forward

TREASURY SECRETARY STEVEN MNUCHIN: “The president will sign the McConnell proposal that he put forward [last week]. We look forward to making progress on that.” (Roll Call, 12/02/2020)



Related Issues: Appropriations, Senate Democrats, COVID-19