McConnell on COVID-19 Response: “This Half of the Capitol is Doing Our Job”


WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding the COVID-19 response:

“This pandemic is weighing heavily on the American people.

“Roughly 1.4 million Americans have been infected. More than 80,000 have died. Unemployment has not been this high since World War II.

“Just a few months ago, millions of hardworking men and women were thriving and optimistic. They were making big plans across kitchen tables. Now all that is in chaos. The Chairman of the Federal Reserve reports that nearly 4 in 10 American households that earn less than $40,000 per year had somebody get laid off in the month of March alone.

“This emergency is very serious. So the Senate’s response has been serious.

“In March, Senate Republicans designed, and the full Senate passed, the CARES Act. It pushed trillions of dollars to working families, job creators, and medical professionals.

“We sent direct cash to almost 130 million Americans. We delivered hundreds of billions of dollars in paycheck protection loans to small businesses, saving tens of millions of American jobs. We helped state and local governments defray coronavirus costs. We funded healthcare providers and testing.

“Even now, its programs are still taking effect, still coming online, still helping.

“The Senate took a blank sheet of paper and turned it into the largest rescue package in history. We’ve taken this crisis seriously.

“But House Democrats have taken… a different approach.

“While we finalized the CARES Act, the House parachuted in with miscellaneous liberal demands unrelated to COVID-19. Solar energy tax credits. Airline emissions.

“One senior House Democrat called the virus “a tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision.” One Senate Democratic colleague asked: “How many times are we going to get a shot at a $1-trillion-plus program?”

“They told us exactly what they were up to. So we ignored the left-wing wish list and stayed serious. And the CARES Act is still helping Americans bridge these temporary shutdowns.

“Fast-forward to today.

“The Democratic House is still not back in Washington. Their constitutional duty stations are still unmanned. But Democrats cannot stop salivating over the possibilities for partisan gain.

“Former Vice President Biden says he sees this tragedy as, quote, “an incredible opportunity… to fundamentally transform the country.” Speaker Pelosi says, quote, “I see everything as an opportunity.” A co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus has said, quote, “for me, the leverage is that there is enormous suffering.”

“80,000 Americans have died. More than 20 million have lost their jobs. I call that a crisis. They call it leverage.

“This week, the Speaker published an 1,800-page seasonal catalog of left-wing oddities and called it a coronavirus relief bill.

“Here we go again.

“It includes a massive tax code giveaway for high earners in blue states. Working families are struggling to put food on the table, but House Democrats are prioritizing millionaires on the coasts.

“It would print another round of checks specifically for illegal immigrants.

“Can you believe it? We forgot to have the Treasury Department send money to people here illegally! My goodness. What an oversight. Thank goodness Democrats are on the case.

“The Speaker’s bill also tries to use the virus as cover to implement sweeping changes to election laws that Democrats have wanted for years — like forcing every state to embrace California’s sketchy “ballot harvesting,” whether they want to or not.

“And then, the cherry on top. The bold new policy from Washington Democrats that will kick the coronavirus to the curb and save American families from this crisis. Here it is: New annual studies on diversity and inclusion within the cannabis industry.

“Not one study, but two of them!

“Let me say that again. The Democrats’ supposed coronavirus bill includes taxpayer-funded studies to measure “diversity and inclusion” among the people who profit off marijuana.

“The word “cannabis” appears in this bill 68 times. More times than the word “job” and four times as many as the word “hire.”

“Maybe that’s just as well. Because when their proposal does try to treat the economic crisis, it proposes stifling, anti-work policies that would only make it harder for Americans to get their jobs back.

“For example, they literally propose to raise taxes on small businesses. Drain more cash from Main Street during a Main Street meltdown.

“So maybe it’s best if House Democrats focus on cannabis studies and leave economics to the rest of us.

“This is a totally unserious effort. Even the mainstream media says, quote, “neither this bill nor anything resembling it will ever become law. It’s a Democratic wish list.”

“But forget about making law, this thing even fails as a messaging bill. That’s what’s so remarkable! House Democrats had a blank slate to write anything they wanted to define the modern Democratic Party. Any vision for society they wanted. And they chose: Tax hikes on small business, giveaways to blue-state millionaires, government checks for illegal immigrants, and sending diversity detectives to inspect the pot industry.

“The House gave themselves no assignments for two months except developing this proposal. Yet it still reads like the Speaker of the House pasted together random ideas from her most liberal members and slapped the word “coronavirus” on top of it.

“An unserious product from an unserious House majority that has spent months dealing itself out of this crisis.

“House Democrats have been missing in action for months. While the Senate was passing the CARES Act, the Democratic House was on the sidelines – substantively, and literally. They had already gone home.

“Nearly two months later, Senators are back at our duty stations, with new precautions. We’ve been back two weeks. We’re holding major hearings on the pandemic, legislating, and confirming nominees. But the House is still at home. And when they do contribute, it’s not serious.

“House Democrats have checked out of this crisis and left governing up to the Senate.

“They even intend to shatter congressional history and jam through remote voting so they can continue to be counterproductive from the comfort of their homes.

“Look — here in the real world, Senate Republicans are working seriously to help the country re-open.

“The crushing unemployment figures even with the CARES Act show us that no amount of federal spending could substitute for the entirety of the U.S. economy. We need to be smart and we need to be safe, but we have to find a more sustainable middle ground.

“This week Chairman Alexander and the HELP Committee heard from Dr. Fauci, Dr. Redfield and other top experts on exactly this subject.

“There are at least two big things our nation will need to start recovering: Stepped-up testing nationwide; and legal liability protections so that K-12 schools, universities, charities, and employers are not invaded by trial lawyers the instant they unlock their doors.

“On testing, fortunately, the Senate has already done a great deal. The executive branch and especially the states are in the driver’s seat, but we have already sent billions of dollars to help scale up testing nationwide.

“On legal liability reform, the work lies ahead of us. As my Republican colleagues and I have made clear, strong legal protections will be a hard red line in any future legislation.

“That’s what is happening in the Senate. Serious leadership on a serious crisis. Like we’ve been doing for months.

“This half of the Capitol is doing our job.”

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