On Tuesday, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) spoke on the Senate floor regarding COVID-19 relief.
Summary of McConnell's Tuesday Remarks
According to McConnell, Senate Republicans have released a “targeted proposal” that “focuses on several of the most urgent aspects” of the COVID-19 pandemic.
McConnell says the newly-released proposal comes after Democratic leaders have “complained about every single thing” put forward by the Senate, but that “they’ve produced nothing of their own with any chance of becoming law.”
He says the Senate will vote on the proposal this week, and that it would extend additional federal unemployment benefits for jobless workers, provide a second round of the Paycheck Protection Program, help schools and universities, dedicate billions to more testing, contact tracing, treatments, and vaccines, on-shore manufacturing capacity for critical medical supplies, and more.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) also issued a joint statement on the proposed relief bill.
In response to the Senate Republicans' proposal, Sen. Schumer also said, "if you wanted to draft a bill that was certain to fail, this is it." Schumer also said that "this move" by Sen. McConnell is "one of the most cynical things" he's ever seen in politics.
The text of the Senate Republicans' proposed legislation can be found here.
You can view Sen. McConnells full Tuesday statement from the Senate floor below.
Full Statement from U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
“Our nation has spent the last six months fighting the medical, economic, and social effects of this pandemic," Sen. McConnell began. “The Senate’s historic rescue package from back in March, the CARES Act, has gone a long way to help American workers and families endure these incredible challenges."
“It delivered the extra federal unemployment benefits that helped laid-off workers make ends meet, It created the Paycheck Protection Program, which has helped millions of small businesses keep the lights on and keep employees on payroll, It sent resources to the front lines of the healthcare fight - and it invested billions in the race for treatments and vaccines," McConnell continued.
“But this relief was never going to last forever," stated Sen. McConnell.
“Today, enhanced federal unemployment benefits are only still available because of action by President Trump. The Paycheck Protection Program has closed to new applications and the funds it has delivered are being exhausted," McConnell continued.
“And this last month has brought a whole new challenge: how to get teachers and students safely into a new school year. These are the challenges the people I represent are facing every day," he said. “Kentuckians and all Americans know this unprecedented crisis is not through with us yet. And so they expect that Congress isn’t through helping yet, either."
“Senate Republicans have been fighting for months to deliver another round of COVID-19 relief," the Kentucky senator said. "In July, we proposed the HEALS Act - a sweeping package totaling more than $1 trillion that could have led right to bipartisan talks. But Speaker Pelosi and the Democratic Leader said 'no.'"
“They said they would block our trillion dollars for kids, jobs, and healthcare unless we doubled the cost to accommodate an endless wish list of non-COVID-related liberal priorities, like tax cuts for blue-state millionaires," he continued. “So Republicans tried another way to break the logjam."
“In August, we proposed narrowing discussions to some of the most urgent, most bipartisan subjects that seemed especially ripe for agreement. - but Speaker Pelosi and the Democratic Leader blocked that too," said McConnell. "Now they claimed it was too ‘piecemeal’ to get any help out the door until Democrats and Republicans had settled every disagreement on every front."
“The Democratic leaders have spent months playing these Goldilocks games," he stated. "They’ve complained about every single thing we’ve put forward. But they’ve produced nothing of their own with any chance of becoming law."
“Meanwhile, after all their blustering that Congress should never do anything ‘piecemeal,’ Speaker Pelosi came rushing back to Washington to pass the most piecemeal bill you could possibly imagine - Legislation that solely helped out the U.S. Postal Service and did nothing at all for American families," Sen. McConnell stated.
"When Republicans tried to help American workers keep their jobs, Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer said it was ‘piecemeal.’ But when House Democrats’ fears about mail-in voting made them think maybe their own jobs could be in jeopardy, that argument suddenly disappeared," McConnell asserted.
“That’s the score. Democrats are all for piecemeal bills when they concern their own re-elections. But when it comes to bipartisan aid for kids, jobs, and schools, Democrats say it’s either their entire wish list - all of it -or nobody gets a dime," he continued.
“Republicans see this quite differently," McConnell said. "We don’t think this crisis cares about partisan politics. We think people are hurting and Congress should do its job."
“We want to agree where bipartisan agreement is possible, get more help out the door, and then keep arguing over the rest later," McConnell said. “That’s how you legislate. That’s how you make law."
“So Republicans are making yet another overture," McConnell continued. "Today we are releasing a targeted proposal that focuses on several of the most urgent aspects of this crisis. Issues where bipartisanship should be especially possible."
“I’m talking about policies like extending the additional federal unemployment benefit for jobless workers," he went on. “Providing a second round of the job-saving Paycheck Protection Program for the hardest-hit small businesses, to prevent layoffs. Sending more than $100 billion to help K-12 schools and universities re-open safely and educate our kids. Dedicating billions more for testing, contact tracing, treatments, and vaccines. On-shoring manufacturing capacity for critical medical supplies and rebuilding our National Stockpile. Giving all kinds of families more choice and flexibility to navigate education and childcare during this crisis. Providing legal protections for schools, churches, charities, nonprofits, and employers to re-open. Providing more help for the postal service."
“Our proposal would do all this and more," Sen. McConnell said.
“Now, here’s what our bill is not. It is not a sweeping multi-trillion-dollar plan to rebuild the entire country in Republicans’ image. It does not even contain every single relief policy that Republicans ourselves think would help in the short term," he continued on. “I’m confident Democrats will feel the same way."
“But the American people don’t need us to keep arguing over what might be perfect. They need us to actually make law," stated the Kentucky senator.
“So Democratic leaders are perfectly free to come out here and keep up their playbook from these past months. Just blast away in bad faith, call names, and complain about the infinite number of things that this proposal does not do," McConnell continued. “Maybe they’ll bring back their Goldilocks act and say our multi-hundred-billion-dollar proposal is too small or too skinny... even though Democrats just passed a piecemeal bill for the Postal Service that ignored everything else."
“Democrats can do all that, if they want to. I understand they have already been criticizing this bill today before they had even read it -- before it had even been put out," McConnell went on to say. “More of this would just reinforce that only one side of the aisle seems to want any bipartisan outcome at all."
“It is easy to tell in Washington whether someone’s end goal is political posturing or getting an outcome." he said "One way or another, what Democrats do will be revealing."
“The Senate is going to vote on this targeted proposal. We are going to get the stonewalling of Democratic leaders out from behind closed doors and put this to a vote on the floor," said McConnell. “And it’s going to happen this week."
“Senators will not be voting on whether this targeted package satisfies every one of their legislative hopes and dreams," McConnell said. "That’s not what we do in this chamber."
"We vote on whether to make laws. Whether to forge a compromise; whether to do a lot of good for the country and keep arguing over the remaining differences later," he said.
“A few weeks ago, more than 100 House Democrats spoke out publicly. They asked Speaker Pelosi to stop stonewalling and let the House vote on targeted COVID relief short of her entire wish list," stated McConnell. “The Speaker ignored them. Ignored her rank-and-file just like her piecemeal postal bill ignored American families."
“But over here, I’ll make sure my Senate Democratic colleagues get a chance to walk the walk," he continued. “Every Senator who has said they want a bipartisan outcome for the country will have the chance to vote, for everyone to see."
"Senators will vote this week. And the American people will be watching.”