McConnell: "This is Not a Political Opportunity. It is a National Emergency"

 'We need to move forward. This national crisis is not going to wait around if Congress slips back into conventional politics or haggles endlessly over the finer points... The American people need an outcome and they need it tomorrow. They need us to vote to advance this legislation today and then pass it tomorrow.'

McConnell official 600

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:

"Senators have now spent days engaged in vigorous bipartisan discussions, among ourselves and with the Administration. 

"Earlier today, I hosted a productive meeting in my office with the Democratic Leader, the Speaker of the House, the House Republican Leader, and the Secretary of the Treasury.

"These intense conversations have built a piece of legislation that is as bold and big as the American people deserve, and as thoroughly bipartisan as our process demands.

"Now we need to move forward. This national crisis is not going to wait around if Congress slips back into conventional politics or haggles endlessly over the finer points.

"Every day, more Americans' jobs are disappearing or coming closer to the brink. Every day, more small businesses are faced with hard decisions that could change local communities forever. Every day, major American companies that employ countless people are seeing their commerce crushed by their own government for the sake of public health. Every day, doctors and nurses and healthcare professionals will keep reporting to work and treating patients, whether or not Congress has their back.

"The risks to our country grow every single day that we do not act.

"The needs of hospitals and healthcare providers grow every day that we do not act.

"That's why we have worked around the clock to craft a major bipartisan relief package.

"And that's why we are going to hold our first procedural vote in just a few minutes.

"So that we can keep moving forward. Because this virus will not wait for politics as usual. 

"These past few days have brought unity and bipartisan energy to the Senate. I think members on both sides agree: it's been encouraging.

"Since Senate Republicans released our initial framework to give some structure to these discussions, both sides have worked hard to create something that can pass the Senate, pass the House, and be signed into law by the President. 

"The bipartisan product delivers strongly on each of the core priorities we identified at the outset:

"It puts urgently-needed cash in the hands of American workers and families.

"It delivers historic and rapid relief to small businesses so they can make payroll and keep people employed.

"It helps stabilize key industries to avoid layoffs wherever possible and preserve the greatest economy in the world for when we come out on the other side of this.

"And, of course, it sends a massive new infusion of resources to the front lines of the medical response.

"That is what we have to do: Inject a significant amount of money as quickly as possible into households, small businesses, key sectors, and our nation's hospitals and health centers.

"This bill would do just that — and do it fast.

"The compromise product also contains many ideas that our Democratic colleagues brought to the table. 

"It balances the Administration's focus on sending direct cash to Americans as quickly as possible with our Democratic colleagues' focus on bolstering states' unemployment insurance programs. 

It places conditions which our Democratic colleagues have sought on the loans that would flow to major businesses — conditions which the President has also endorsed.

And both parties have made sure to keep strengthening the resources that will be pushed out to the front lines.

The bill includes $75 billion in a new fund for hospitals and health providers. And more than three-quarters of all the funds in the appropriations section — nearly $200 billion — will not stay in Washington but will go to state and local priorities. 

"So what we have, is a compromise product which contains ideas, contributions, and priorities from both sides and which could become law as soon as tomorrow.

"In other words — it is just about time to take "yes" for an answer.

"We are now at a point which every American who has ever negotiated anything would recognize — whether they've purchased a home, or bought a car, or negotiated for their small business.

"We are at the point where both sides have come a long way towards each other. And each side has to decide whether to continue elbowing and arguing over the last several inches, and risk the whole thing... or whether to shake hands and get it done.

"Thus far, throughout this crisis, the Senate has risen to the occasion.

"It was just a few days ago when this Republican Senate majority moved expeditiously to pass the House Democrats' "phase two" legislation, even though many of my colleagues on this side of the aisle and I had serious reservations and would have written it differently.

"Nevertheless, I pushed the Speaker's legislation through the Senate. Because urgency and results matter during a national crisis. Because, imperfections notwithstanding, it was the right thing to do for our country.

"So I hope and anticipate that a similar degree of bipartisanship and urgency will be reciprocated now.

"I understand the Speaker said following our meeting this morning that she may simply give up on these bipartisan talks and begin writing her own separate bill.

"Perhaps that's related to the remarks of one of her senior House Democratic leaders, who reportedly told colleagues a few days ago that "This is a tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision."

"Well, I sincerely hope that nobody actually views this crisis in such a cynical manner.

"This is not a political opportunity. It is a national emergency.

"That's why we have engaged in days of bipartisan talks to get to this point. And that's why it is time to move forward.

"Americans don't need us to haggle endlessly. They don't need us to jeopardize all the progress we've made over the past several days for the sake of eleventh-hour brinkmanship. 

"The American people need an outcome and they need it tomorrow.

"They need us to vote to advance this legislation today and then pass it tomorrow.

"As I said yesterday, Congress should take inspiration from our constituents.

"Even during this pandemic, the American people are showing the world the soul of our country.

"My home state of Kentucky's official motto is "United we stand, divided we fall."

"And every day I hear about new ways Kentuckians are standing united — even if they have to stand six feet apart.

"I recently heard about a resident of Campbell County in northern Kentucky named Debbie Buckley.

"In her day job, Debbie works for the local government. But recently, she heard about some students at a nearby university who are still living in the dorms, even though in-person classes were cancelled.

"Some had to remain in the area for work. Others were international students who can't get home. Their situations were completely uncertain. The local shelves were not fully-stocked.

"Debbie decided to do something. She put out a call for help — and Kentuckians answered. Churches, restaurants and neighbors all pitched in with food and supplies.

"Debbie drove all over northern Kentucky, collecting these donations and then delivering them to these young people.

"She's found everything a college student could need: canned goods, microwavable meals, and even "Airheads" candy, which I'm proud to say are made right there in Kentucky.

"There are so many stories like this pouring in from all over our great country.

"American are stepping up to the plate.

"Americans realize this is no time for selfishness or division, but a time for solidarity and generosity and yes, courage.

"Americans are rising to the occasion.

"The Senate must do the same.

"Let's move this legislation forward this afternoon, as the last few discussions begin to wind down.

"And then let's get this done tomorrow."

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