'Yesterday, I introduced the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act: Senate Republicans' bold proposal to continue combating this health crisis and the economic crisis it is causing... The nation's needs and expectations are clear. Workers, families, small businesses, and the foundations of our economy itself need swift action.'
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act:
"Yesterday, I introduced the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act: Senate Republicans' bold proposal to continue combating this health crisis and the economic crisis it is causing.
"And I called on our Democratic counterparts to join us immediately at the table, for urgent discussions, so that the Senate can deliver major relief to the American people as soon as humanly possible.
"I am glad to say these talks are already well underway.
"Earlier this morning, a number of our committee chairmen began in-depth bipartisan talks with their Democratic counterparts.
"We were joined by representatives from the Administration. And these talks continue as we speak. Here are the next steps:
"These member-level discussions will proceed, with the goal of reaching agreements on each of the four components of the legislation by the end of the day today.
"This would allow the first procedural vote to occur before the end of the day tomorrow.
"And that would allow a bipartisan package, focused on immediate challenges, to pass the Senate on Monday.
"The nation's needs and expectations are clear. Workers, families, small businesses, and the foundations of our economy itself need swift action. And in the Senate, swift means bipartisan.
"The Senate rose to the occasion earlier this month. We united across party lines to pass billions in quick funding to support the medical response.
"And we did it again just this week. We passed the more modest proposal that came over from the Democratic House quickly and in a bipartisan way.
"Now our nation needs a major next step, and we need it fast.
"That's why Senate Republicans produced a bold initial proposal, to give shape and structure to these discussions.
"First — our "CARES Act" would deliver direct financial help as quickly as possible to the American people. Senate Republicans want to put cash in Americans' hands.
"For Americans who have lost work, this would be the quickest possible first wave of government assistance, to supplement unemployment insurance, and help with bills and immediate needs.
"For our nation's seniors, this would supplement Social Security and provide further relief to those who are at heightened risk and have had to change their routines overnight.
"And for Americans still working, this infusion of money would provide a little more certainty in this very uncertain moment, and the opportunity to invest in local economies where possible.
"Second — our proposal would provide the quickest-possible access to desperately-needed liquidity for small businesses across our nation.
"Our proposal would use existing channels and small businesses' existing lending relationships to provide hundreds of billions of dollars in emergency capital. A significant cash infusion, as fast as possible, so that more small businesses can hold onto their workers, weather this disruption, and come out on the other side — instead of having to resort to layoffs or shutdowns right away.
"No tangled new bureaucracies. Not delaying this urgent aid while we try to redesign complex programs from the ground up. Just the most direct path to the cash that small businesses need to keep making payroll while, in many cases, the government itself is chasing away their customers for the sake of public health.
"This straightforward approach is already earning support. A coalition of small-business advocates has already written to express their hope that, quote, "both Republicans and Democrats can come together" to pass this.
"Third — our bill recognizes that a big, structural national crisis requires a big, structural response. We want to empower the Treasury Department to engage in targeted lending — not bailouts, but loans — to key sectors and industries which this pandemic is hurting.
"Again, we want to preserve employer-employee relationships everywhere we can. We have to fight to protect jobs. And we need to recognize that our nation will need key industries to come back online quickly on the other side of this crisis.
"And fourth, and this is crucial — our legislation will continue to push surge resources to the front lines of the medical battle against this virus itself.
"We want to expand access to testing and treatment. To further encourage and speed up research on therapeutics, and eventually, vaccines. To continue to fund the hospitals and health centers that are treating patients. And we want to expand healthcare workers' access to critical equipment and supplies, including respirator masks.
"These are the four big things our bill seeks to do. As we speak, at this very moment, Senators on both sides are discussing the details and exchanging suggestions on all four pillars.
"Once again, this will not be the first bill we've passed to combat this crisis... or the second... and I do not expect it will be the last.
"This legislation does not need to contain every piece of the ongoing national effort. In fact, that would be impossible.
"But everyone — from public health experts, to economists, to the working families of this country — everyone has made it clear that we need to deliver relief now.
"We need to go big. We need to minimize new complexity. And we need to move swiftly.
"We need to push immediate relief to Americans. We need to keep Americans employed as much as possible and help job creators stay afloat. And we need to continue taking action to stand with medical professionals and protect our nation's health.
"Laid-off workers cannot wait. Struggling Main Street businesses cannot wait. Our hospitals and health centers cannot wait.
"So, as I said, I hope these member-level discussions will be able to produce agreements in principle on all four components by the end of the day today. In fact, they must reach agreement by the end of the day today.
"That would leave tomorrow for drafting legislative text, and for the first procedural vote on a shell.
"And that should allow a bipartisan package, focused on immediate challenges, to pass the Senate on Monday.
"This crisis is moving fast.
"The Senate is here, we are working, and we are going to deliver."