WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding the coronavirus:
‘Last week, I described how Congress could quickly secure supplemental funding to combat the coronavirus. The way to secure these urgently-needed resources with speed and certainty was to forego partisan posturing, forego micromanagement at the leadership level, and let bipartisan appropriators do their work.
‘Since then, Chairman Shelby, Senator Leahy, and their counterparts in the House have worked hard on bipartisan, bicameral discussions. Thanks to their work, we are close. The funding legislation appears to be on about the five-yard line.
‘I am optimistic we can complete this legislation and deliver this funding this week. We are close.
‘In order to finish it up, both sides will need to continue doing what has worked thus far, and resist the temptation to impose any last-minute ideological demands.
‘In particular, I’ve heard that Democratic leadership may be contemplating a last-minute demand that this funding legislation also test-drive some untried, untested, and controversial parts of their “Medicare for All” proposal that relate to the pricing of new drugs and innovations.
‘Look, everyone agrees that the potential diagnostics, therapeutics, or vaccines that might come out of this new funding cannot only be available to the ultra-wealthy. We all agree on that. Everybody agrees with that. We already have long-standing, tried-and-true procedures so the government can buy and distribute new medicines in scenarios like this, to ensure accessibility.
‘Those mechanisms are in place. So there is no need, and this is no time, to begin experimenting with ideological proposals that could jeopardize research, development, and innovation.
‘Like I said, the accessibility of treatments or vaccines is a priority for everybody. But before new technologies can be accessible, they obviously have to be available. This is a moment to empower innovators, to incentivize innovators. It’s a time to remove hurdles to innovation, not build new hurdles and create new uncertainty through ideological experimentation.
‘So I hope these rumors do not prove true. I am optimistic we’ll be able to close out the remaining questions and process this legislation in short order.
‘This moment calls for collaboration and unity. Our bicameral, bipartisan talks have made great headway. It’s time to give our public health experts and healthcare professionals the surge resources they need at this challenging time.’
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