March 24, 2020 - Issue: Vol. 166, No. 58 — Daily Edition116th Congress (2019 - 2020) - 2nd Session
RECESS; Congressional Record Vol. 166, No. 58
(Senate - March 24, 2020)
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[Pages S2006-S2008] From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov] RECESS Mr. GRAHAM. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the Senate stand in recess until 9:30 p.m. There being no objection, the Senate, at 8:32 p.m., recessed until 9:30 p.m. and reassembled when called to order by the Presiding Officer (Ms. McSally). The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Louisiana. Mr. CASSIDY. Madam President, I spoke to you earlier when you were presiding. I am about to take the Presiding Officer's place, as she took my place earlier, and we will swap once more. Yet, before I sit down, I want to repeat the message I gave earlier. As we wait for a decision to be made between the Democratic minority leader, the Speaker of the House, and the administration, we had a deal that they had agreed to that was bipartisan, on which Senators from both parties had come together, had reviewed, and had an awareness of. No Senator thought it was a corporate bailout. If one did, one didn't say so at the time. Every Senator felt like this was the way to emerge. This could have been passed into law on Sunday, but we are nowhere close, apparently. Tonight, I was asked on a TV show: What about the single mother in Baton Rouge? What would I tell her? Do you know what I would say to that single mother? I would tell her I care about single moms. I would say that we had a deal, but then the Speaker of the House and the Democratic minority leader decided to leverage the misery of the American people, the businesses that are shutting down as we speak, and the people who are being laid off every day, to their political advantage. I am so sorry to say that, but that is a fact. Then, afterward, they had to come up with a big, sort of, ``Oh, my gosh. We can't support it because of this or that.'' It wasn't what they were saying when they agreed to it. They had to come up with a reason to justify mendacity. They are leveraging the misery of the American people to their political advantage. A deal could have been signed on Sunday--a bipartisan deal that 100 Senators had some input into and that the Speaker of the House had input into. Someone pointed out the irony to me--and I have to wrap up shortly-- so I tweeted that the Democratic minority leader and the Speaker of the House [[Page S2007]] tried to impeach the President of the United States for allegedly withholding aid from Ukraine, and now they withhold aid from the American people. Whatever gloss they put on it, we could have finished this up on Sunday, and now we are stretching it out to their political advantage. I believe that was the allegation against the President: To his political advantage, he was using aid that was to go to the Ukrainians. Now we see two people--again, the Speaker of the House and the Democratic minority leader--both of whom are from States that have been hard-hit; my State of Louisiana and theirs, being New York and California, have been hard-hit--who are using that misery as leverage to their political advantage. I am sorry to be so worked up, but I have people calling me, asking: Do I have to lay somebody off? Oh, my gosh. I have lost my job. Will I have unemployment benefits? You say there is a check coming. When will this legislation pass? I realize it could have been done on Sunday until two people saw an opportunity that was to their political advantage. In their political advantage, they withhold aid from the American people, but they tried to impeach the President for such an allegation against another people. I hope they answer to the voters. I understand that the people who support them might not be touched by this, but my people are touched by it, and my State is affected by it. As a physician, I don't care where you live in the country, for I feel, as a physician, that we should be doing everything we can for those who are in distress right now and not using it to our political advantage or using it in a way to extract a little bit more--maybe in requiring airlines to do this or that or maybe in sneaking a sweetheart deal in for a friend because we will get that language and have to vote on it 2 hours later. This is not how our Founding Fathers had imagined. It is, unfortunately, how it has become--not to the benefit of the American people, to the benefit of two people, and I find that outrageous. I yield the floor. (Ms. McSALLY assumed the chair.) (Mr. CASSIDY assumed the chair.) (Ms. McSALLY assumed the chair.) (Mr. SASSE assumed the chair.) The PRESIDING OFFICER (Ms. McSALLY). The majority leader. Mr. McCONNELL. Madam President, I have an update for the information of all the Senators and for the information of the American people, and it is good news. It is good news for the doctors and nurses in emergency rooms around the country who are waiting for more masks and more funding. It is good news for families all across America. At last we have a deal. After days of intense discussions, the Senate has reached a bipartisan agreement on a historic relief package for this pandemic. It will rush new resources onto the frontlines of our Nation's healthcare fight, and it will inject trillions of dollars of cash into the economy as fast as possible to help American workers, families, small businesses, and industries make it through this disruption and emerge on the other side ready to soar. The bipartisan CARES Act will squarely address each of the four big priorities that I laid out in my legislation at the beginning of the process about a week ago. It will rush financial assistance to Americans through direct checks to households from the middle class on down and through a significant and creative expansion of unemployment insurance during this emergency. It will deliver historic relief to Main Street America through hundreds of billions of dollars in emergency loans so more small businesses can survive this and keep paying their workers. It will help secure our economic foundations and stabilize key national industries to prevent as many layoffs as possible, while keeping big companies accountable, as both sides have sought to do. And, of course, it will push major relief to hospitals and healthcare providers, invest in new medicines and vaccines so we can beat this virus faster, and help get more equipment and masks to the frontline heroes who put themselves at risk to care for patients. In effect, this is a wartime level of investment into our Nation. The men and women of the greatest country on Earth are going to defeat this coronavirus and reclaim our future, and the Senate is going to make sure they have the ammunition they need to do it. I am thrilled that we are finally going to deliver for the country that has been waiting for us to step up. I am relieved that my distinguished Democratic colleagues are ready to take yes for an answer. This has been a long week for the Senate, but it has been a much longer week for the hundreds of millions of Americans who find themselves in this strange new reality, where every morning brings new worries about their health, about their loved ones, and about whether their job or their small business will still exist at this time next week. So, Madam President, help is on the way. The American people are already rising to this grave challenge, and the Senate is about to follow suit. We are going to pass this legislation later today. The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Democratic leader. Mr. SCHUMER. Madam President, after 5 days of arduous negotiations, after sleep-deprived nights, and marathon negotiating sessions, we have a bipartisan agreement on the largest rescue package in American history. This is not a moment of celebration but one of necessity. We have the anguish of the American people, their wondering about the future of their health, the health of their loved ones, and the economy. It necessitates us to do all we can to help them and help our country. From the very beginning, the Democrats have had two primary goals: a Marshall Plan for public health workers and hospitals on the frontlines and of putting workers first. The agreement now, after these 5 days, reflects those Democratic priorities, and we are proud that they are now part of this legislation. Like all compromises, this bill is far from perfect, but we believe the legislation has been improved significantly to warrant its quick consideration and passage. Because many Democrats and Republicans were willing to do the serious and hard work, the bill is much better off than where it started. The Democrats have succeeded in making the bill substantially better on many counts. Here are four major pillars of the bill. First, a Marshall Plan for our hospitals and medical needs--there is much more money for our hospitals, for our nurses and physicians, for our nursing homes and our community health centers to do the jobs they need to do, over $130 billion. Second, workers first--so many people are being put out of work through no fault of their own. They don't know what their futures are going to be like. How are they going to pay the bills? Well, we come to their rescue, and the most significant part of that is something we are proud to have devised. We call it unemployment compensation on steroids. All American workers who are laid off will have their salaries remunerated by the Federal Government so they can pay their bills. Because so many of them will be furloughed rather than fired, if they have benefits, they will continue, and--extremely important--they stay with the company or small business. That means that company or small business can reassemble once this awful plague is over, and our economy can get going quickly. Third, strict oversight, transparency, and accountability of all loans made to corporate America--we need oversight. We need transparency. Every loan document will be public and be made available to Congress very quickly so we can see where the money is going, what the terms are, and if it is fair to the American people. There will be an oversight board, as well as an IG, to make sure things are done on the level. Fourth, real resources for our State and local governments--that was one of the last decisions we had to make. There is $150 billion that will go to States and localities that are so hard-pressed because of all the new expenses that COVID-19 puts upon them, and because they are not getting the resources they usually get, taxes will be delayed until June. Finally, there is real, real help for small businesses. My dad was a small [[Page S2008]] businessman, an exterminator. I know how small business people worry and suffer. They will get loans, and their employees will be paid by the Federal Government while they are closed because they don't have customers or services, and they can, too, bounce back afterward. So this agreement is really an outstanding agreement. To them and to all Americans, I say help is on the way, big help and quick help. We are going to take up and pass this package to care for those who are now caring for us and help carry millions of Americans through these dark economic times. I yield the floor. The PRESIDING OFFICER. The majority leader. Orders for Wednesday, March 25, 2020 Mr. McCONNELL. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that when the Senate completes its business today, it adjourn until 12 noon, Wednesday, March 25; further, that following the prayer and pledge, the morning hour be deemed expired, the Journal of proceedings be approved to date, the time for the two leaders be reserved for their use later in the day, and morning business be closed; further, that following leader remarks, the Senate resume consideration of the motion to proceed to H.R. 748. The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered. ____________________