McConnell on Successful Slowing of COVID-19: The American People Have Won “An Important Battle”

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

“All month, the Senate has been on the job, attending to the needs of our nation.

“We have legislated. We’ve confirmed nominees. We’ve held major hearings and conducted oversight on the historic response to COVID-19.

“Now, yesterday, we learned that our Senate action will continue to contrast with our absentee neighbors across the rotunda.

“While essential workers across the country continue to clock in, the Democratic House of Representatives has essentially put itself on paid leave for months.

“Since the early days of this crisis, the self-described “People’s House” has been suspiciously empty of… people. I understand they’ve convened for legislative session a grand total of two days in the past eight weeks.

“At this point, I’m wondering if we should send Senators over there to collect their newspaper and water the plants.

“It’s not just their physical absence. It’s House Democrats’ absence from any serious discussions at all. About the only product to emerge from their lengthy sabbatical has been an 1,800-page, $3 trillion messaging bill that couldn’t even unite their own conference.

“Yesterday, the Speaker announced this arrangement will continue another 45 days at least. But there’s a new wrinkle: House Democrats jammed through a precedent-breaking remote voting scheme that will let one member cast 10 additional votes.

“One person, 11 votes? Remember, these are the people who want to remake every state’s election laws.

“There are several problems with this. One of them happens to be Article I, Section 5 of the U.S. Constitution.

“A majority of each [house] shall constitute a quorum to do business.”

“For about 231 years, Congresses have managed to fulfill this job requirement.

“They’ve worked through a Civil War, two World Wars, terrorist threats, and a prior pandemic without trying to shirk this duty. The 12th Congress endured the War of 1812, including the occupation of Washington and the burning of this Capitol building, without abandoning in-person meetings.

“The Constitution requires a physical quorum to do business. Normally both chambers may presume one. But any House member has a right to demand an in-person attendance check. The Democrats’ new rule says one person may mark himself and ten others present, even if they are nowhere in sight. A flat-out lie.

“There will be enormous constitutional questions around anything the House does if they fail to demonstrate a real quorum but plow ahead anyhow.

“Two normal workdays in eight weeks. One absurd, unserious proposal. And now they are playing games with the Constitution so they can continue their never-ending Spring Break into July.

“So let’s come over here to the Senate.

“In just the past three weeks, we have filled crucial posts at the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the Department of Homeland Security.

“Today, we’ll confirm the next Director of National Intelligence. John Ratcliffe will lead the Intelligence Community in countering threats from great powers, rogue nations, and terrorists — and ensuring that work is untainted by political bias.

“The Banking Committee has heard from Chairman Powell and Secretary Mnuchin on the workings of the CARES Act and the state of our economy. The Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee has reported the nominee to be Special Inspector General for pandemic recovery programs. The Special Committee on Aging is examining all the ways this crisis hurts America’s seniors. The HELP Committee has discussed with top experts like Dr. Fauci and Admiral Giroir how schools, universities, and businesses will begin to re-open.

“Senator Cornyn and I are working on legal protections that our healthcare workers deserve and institutions will need if we want to return to anything resembling normal.

“On the floor, we’ve passed major bills renewing key national-security tools and dialing up the consequences for Communist China’s abuse of human rights.

“In short, the Senate has just followed the lead of the American people.

“For months now, healthcare workers have been clocking in to help and heal strangers — every minute on the job an act of selflessness and bravery. Families have forged new routines and set up home offices and home schools overnight. Community volunteers have found new ways to pitch in and help the vulnerable from six feet apart.

“Tens of millions of workers have kept collecting paychecks instead of pink-slips because our Paycheck Protection Program has sent hundreds of billions of dollars to keep small businesses alive.

“COVID-19 has killed nearly 100,000 Americans. It has cost tens of millions their jobs. This is a generational tragedy. But in the midst of it, our country is pulling together.

“My home state of Kentucky is showing us how it’s done.

A glass producer transformed its operation to make protective shields for businesses. A high school principal named Evan Jackson invented a virtual commencement so graduates didn’t go un-celebrated. Dr. Erin Frazier, a pediatrician, has somehow found the spare time to stand up brand-new food pantries. Restaurants are spreading hope and hospitality by donating meals to first responders.

“And one group of restaurants headquartered in Louisville, called Texas Roadhouse, has gone to great lengths to avoid layoffs. The founder gave up his salary and put his own money into a worker assistance fund. So far they have spent $17 million on their workers, covering everything from healthcare premiums to bonuses.

“These past few months have been trying. Trying indeed. But the American people have been inspiring.

“This spring, the Senate wrote and passed the largest rescue package in American history to try to help bridge this period. And this nation of nearly 330 million people put their lives on pause to protect our medical system.

“And it worked. The American people did what Americans do: They got it done.

“We kept our healthcare system intact. We did not let this virus break us. As far as we know, not one single American who needed a ventilator could not get one.

“We have not yet won the war. But the citizens of this nation have won an important battle.

“So what comes next?

“Sustaining this flattened curve will take vigilance. Safely re-opening schools, universities, and businesses will take care and leadership.

“The race for even more testing, therapeutics, and of course a vaccine will be one great national project. Rebuilding the prosperity we had just a few months ago will be another.

“Life will not go right back to “normal.” Repairing the damage will take creativity. But the greatest country in world history will find a more sustainable middle ground.

“Every one of my Senate colleagues should be proud of how we’ve helped our nation win this first battle. Every day, our historic rescue package is continuing to push out money and aid. Every day, we are working on ways to smooth the road toward re-opening that lies before us.

“The American people have already been heroes. It is our honor as Senators to stand with them.”

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