‘There will be another major rescue package for the American people. As our citizens continue battling the coronavirus this holiday season, they will not be fighting alone.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding COVID-19 relief:
“For the information of all Senators, and for the information of the American people, we can finally report what our nation has needed to hear for a long time:
“More help is on the way.
“Moments ago, in consultation with our committees, the four leaders in the Senate and the House finalized an agreement.
“There will be another major rescue package for the American people. As our citizens continue battling the coronavirus this holiday season, they will not be fighting alone.
“We’ve agreed to a package of nearly $900 billion. It is packed with targeted policies to help struggling Americans who have already waited too long.
“For workers at the hardest-hit small businesses, there will be a targeted second draw of the Paycheck Protection Program. We have not worked so hard to save as many jobs as possible, all these months, only to fumble the ball with vaccinations already underway.
“Speaking of vaccines, we can’t nullify the success of Operation Warp Speed by falling asleep at the switch on distribution. So this agreement will provide huge sums for the logistics that will get these life-saving shots to our citizens as fast as possible.
“Of course, many millions of Americans have lost their jobs — and are continuing to lose them — through no fault of their own. This package will renew and extend a number of the additional important federal unemployment benefits that have helped families stay afloat.
“Across all kinds of families, in all kinds of situations, this has been a difficult time across the board. So, at the particular request and emphasis of President Trump and his Administration, our agreement will provide another round of direct impact payments to help households make ends meet and continue our economic recovery.
“We all know this crisis has tested our healthcare providers. This legislation will continue to fund the front lines.
“But the crisis in American education has been staggering as well. So this package will supply billions and billions of dollars to help get kids back in school and do so safely.
“These are just some of the key components. There are many more.
“And importantly, we’re going to supply this emergency aid in a way that is smart and responsible. We will be repurposing more than $560 billion in money that was already set aside by the CARES Act — but not spent — toward these urgent needs.
“And we’ll be appropriately paring back some of the most expansive powers that Congress temporarily gave unelected officials to stabilize the financial system back in the springtime.
“And I want to particularly thank Senator Toomey, for his extraordinary contribution to that effort.
“At long last, we have the bipartisan breakthrough the country has needed.
“Now we need to promptly finalize text, avoid any last-minute obstacles, and cooperate to move this legislation through both chambers.
“So this is good news. But I need to close with one observation that is regrettable.
“From where I stand, from where Senate Republicans stand, there is no reason why this urgent package could not have been signed into law multiple months ago.
“For months, Senate Republicans have consistently supported a targeted rescue package, under $1 trillion, focused on the same kinds of policies that we have settled on today.
“As far back as July, and all autumn, Republicans have consistently supported a targeted package right in the ballpark of this total amount, with the same kinds of policies in the mix.
“The package that will shortly become law falls exactly within the ballpark of what Senate Republicans have been proposing and trying to pass since last summer.
“Compare the shape of this major agreement with the shape of what I proposed all the way back in late July. Yes, some fine details are different.
“There is no doubt this new agreement contains input from our Democratic colleagues. It is bipartisan. But these matters could have been settled long ago.
“So why did it take all this time? We know why. We have heard Democrats say openly that they were not willing to deal all summer and fall, but are willing now, because they now have a President-elect of their own political party.
“That’s not my accusation — that’s their admission.
“So, look, I’m glad we’ve gotten this done. My Democratic colleagues and I have had good discussions this past week. Both parties have a lot to be proud of.
“But I really regret that some on the Democratic side decided that partisan presidential politics were more important than getting urgent and noncontroversial relief out the door much, much sooner — to families who have needed this help badly.
“The progress of this past week could have happened in July, or in August, or in September, or in October.
“Senate Republicans were advocating for a package just like this one, all along, in real time.
“I just wish our partners on the other side had put political calculations aside and worked with us to make this happen a long time ago.
“With that said, I appreciate the earnest conversations of this past week. I want to thank the Democratic Leader, Speaker Pelosi, and Leader McCarthy, as well as Secretary Mnuchin. Both sides, in both chambers, have worked hard to get this done.
“We will be moving forward with both historic pandemic relief and full-year funding legislation for the federal government. And I hope we can do so as promptly as possible.”