WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding the new coronavirus, COVID-19:
‘The continued spread of the new coronavirus, COVID-19, has the world on notice.
‘Here in the United States, we are fortunate not to be facing an immediate crisis. In response to early reports of the outbreak, the Administration began monitoring efforts and enacted common-sense travel restrictions to help blunt and delay the spread of the virus to the United States.
‘But obviously, as our public health experts remind us, a nation of nearly 4 million square miles and more than 300 million people cannot be hermetically sealed off from the world. There seems to be little question that COVID-19 will eventually cause some degree of disruption here in the United States.
‘The question before us now is how we can help the administration and our professional medical experts continue their efforts to take advantage of this head start. Our task is to make sure these dedicated professionals have what they need to continue preparing in ways that are calm, smart, and effective.
‘Here in Congress, first and foremost, that means providing additional surge resources for the comprehensive federal response. It’s our job to ensure that funding is not a limiting factor as public health leaders and front-line medical professionals continue getting ready.
‘That’s exactly why, several days ago, the Trump administration submitted an initial request for supplemental funding to begin this conversation. It was exactly the kind of action that many of our Democratic colleagues had been demanding.
‘But as soon as the Administration did take action, to the apparent puzzlement of basically everyone, including his fellow Democrats, the Democratic Leader began launching partisan political attacks at the White House instead of working together to get this done.
‘Just days ago, the Democratic Leader signed a letter, quote, “strongly urging” this kind of funding request. But almost the instant it arrived, he began blasting it as, quote, “too little too late.”
‘And our colleague continued to move the goalposts.
‘His strong views on the necessary amount of funds varied daily. It has been a strange and clumsy effort to override normal, bipartisan appropriations talks before they even happen and replace them with top-down partisan posturing.
‘Everyone from his fellow Democrats to President Trump have seemed perplexed by the Democratic Leader’s political game-playing. It’s not clear to anyone why he’s prioritized fighting with the White House over simply letting the appropriators do their work.
‘I feel confident that the coronavirus does not care about partisan bickering or political news cycles. This new disease is not going to press “pause” so that members can engage in performative outrage that gets us farther from results, rather than closer.
‘This is our first step in confronting this challenge. The Congress must be prepared to work together, across the aisle, in a collaborative way and get results.
‘Fortunately, it appears we will have an opportunity to put this cynicism behind us quickly and move forward in a unified way.
‘Bipartisan discussions are already underway among our colleagues on the Appropriations Committee. I have full confidence that Chairman Shelby, Senator Leahy, and our colleagues are fully capable of handling this well.
‘I have faith the Committee will carefully consider the right sum to appropriate at this time to ensure our nation’s needs are fully funded.
‘I hope they can work expeditiously so the full Senate would be able to take up the legislation within the next two weeks.
‘And I hope, as we move forward through this challenge, this body can put reflexive partisanship aside and uphold the spirit of cooperation and collaboration this will require.’
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