44News Sits Down With Sen. McConnell to Talk Stimulus, Eviction Relief, and the Fate of the Republican Party

Jessica Hartman sat down with U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to talked about the stalemate between Senate Republicans and House Democrats on the next round of coronavirus relief, struggling families facing evictions and shutoffs, Kentucky's economy and coal mining industry, and more.

Posted: Aug 25, 2020 11:03 PM
Updated: Aug 26, 2020 12:04 AM

It's been nearly one month since U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell last spoke with 44News on the next round of coronavirus relief.

The Kentucky senator says he's attempting to bridge the gap between Senate Republicans and House Democrats with a targeted approach.

Sen. McConnell sat down with 44News anchor Jessica Hartman while on business in Owensboro where he talked about America's need for the next round of coronavirus relief, struggling families facing evictions and shutoffs, Kentucky's economy and coal mining industry, and more.

McConnell's Message to Struggling Families in Need of Coronavirus Relief

In the eyes of the public, it may not seem like much progress has been made in negotiating the next round of federal coronavirus aid since 44News last spoke with Sen. McConnell in early August

McConnell believes the current environment is more partisan than it had been in March and early April, which is resulting in the current standstill.

"What I like to say to our Democratic friends and to everybody else - the coronavirus doesn't have a stake in this election," said Sen. McConnell. "We need an additional boost, in my opinion."

"I hope we'll still be able to get there," McConnell continued. "Although, as we're doing this interview, we're at a stalemate."

As one of the main leaders in Washington, McConnell says he's attempting to bridge the gap between Senate Republicans and House Democrats with a targeted approach.

"The House bill, at $3 trillion, would have doubled what we already added to the national debt in March and April," said Sen. McConnell. "And it included things like tax cuts for high-income people in certain big states like New York and California - really, that's unrelated to the coronavirus."

"Here's what we ought to do, in my opinion," Sen. McConnell continued.

"Liability protection, so we don't have an epidemic of lawsuits on the heels of the pandemic - to protect doctors, hospitals, nurses, universities, K-12 and businesses - focus on kids in school... renewal of the small business loan program... and of course the hospitals and all the healthcare providers need another slug," McConnell went on to say.

"And we need another $1,200 check for low-income people who've been hit hard," Sen. McConnell added. "Particularly those in the hospitality field - hotels, restaurants."

Evictions and Utility Shutoffs as Moratoriums Expire

Many families across America are facing the threats of eviction and utility shutoffs due to the pandemic.

In Kentucky, Governor Andy Beshear just announced a $15 million "Healthy at Home Eviction Relief Fund," which aims to keep residents off of the street, treat landlords fairly, and keep housing debts manageable as the coronavirus pandemic plays out. Indiana is doing something similar.

Sen. McConnell spoke his mind on the topic of evictions and shutoffs, circling back to the idea of putting $1,200 in the pockets of citizens feeling the economic fallout of the pandemic.

"The president tried to address that in one of his executive orders, but another way to deal with it would be a $1,200 check to low-income people," McConnell said. "It would help them pay their rent."

"The proposal the president did by executive order, which Gov. Beshear has taken advantage of, will run out in about five weeks," McConnell explained. "So we really haven't solved the unemployment problem long enough."

"So there are a whole lot of reasons why we need to put the passions of the election behind us and get another deal," the Kentucky Senator went on to say.

McConnell's Thoughts on the Status of Kentucky's Coal Industry

Sen. McConnell says more can be done to help Kentucky coal miners, but he has already taken action.

"I was almost single-handedly responsible for both covering coal miner's health benefits and fixing their pension problem," McConnell said.

"There are all kinds of predictions about the future of coal, and many of the predictions have not been very good," stated Sen. McConnell. "So we have to adapt to a changed condition."

McConnell said it's important that Kentucky's coal industry isn't completely obliterated because of the significant percentage of the nation's power that comes from coal-fired plants.

"I hope the slide has stopped, but it'd be hard to predict a bright future. I don't think that would be a candid assessment of the situation," said McConnell.

Sen. McConnell's Views on Defunding the Police

The Kentucky senator shared some passionate thoughts on his stance as a "strong defender of the police."

"It's a nutty idea to defund the police," said McConnell. "The whole notion that we're not smart enough to distinguish between peaceful protests, which are constitutionally protected and remain so, and violence, and looting... is completely unacceptable."

McConnell said he thinks that nationally, the Democratic party is reluctant to stand up for the police.

"We need them," McConnell said. "Most police officers are doing a tough job every day - protecting all of us," McConnell continued. "And it's absolutely nutty to think that a solution to more violence is to defund the police department."

"Have there been a few bad policemen? Yes, there have," McConnell went on. "And we've seen one on full display in the George Floyd murder." 

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It was another chilly start across the Tri-State; while we only dipped as low as 43° in Evansville, many others across the Tri-State fell into the upper 30s earlier this morning. The cool air didn't linger long however, temperatures quickly reached back into the mid 70s across the region this afternoon - higher pressure camped out over the southeastern quarter of the country will continue to keep the skies above the Tri-State clear while gradually driving temperatures higher over the next few days. Despite our anticipated southerly winds this evening, you may still want to grab a jacket before your head out to dinner; after seeing a temperature near 64° around dinnertime, we'll fall off toward the mid to upper 50s by 10 o'clock. Overnight lows will again dwindle into the mid to low 40s for the majority of the Ohio Valley early Tuesday morning.
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