HEALS ACT; Congressional Record Vol. 166, No. 132
(Senate - July 27, 2020)

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[Pages S4491-S4492]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                               HEALS ACT

  Mr. McCONNELL. Madam President, COVID-19 has killed nearly 150,000 
Americans. It has caused massive layoffs on a historic scale and left 
17 million people out of work. It has thrown the lives and the 
trajectories of our Nation's children and young adults into 
uncertainty.
  Our Nation stands now at an important crossroads in this battle. 
American families' historic sacrifices brought our medical system 
through

[[Page S4492]]

the springtime intact. The very early stages of our economic recovery 
have been promising and our Nation needs to continue to proceed with a 
smart and safe reopening.
  At the same time, the virus is still with us. It is still spreading, 
and it does not care about our fragile economic progress or our 
frustration with restrictions, or anything else, besides infecting as 
many people as possible.
  So we have one foot in the pandemic and one foot in the recovery. The 
American people need more help. They need it to be comprehensive, and 
they need it to be carefully tailored to these crossroads.
  That is what this Senate majority has assembled, and that is what 
Chairmen Alexander, Blunt, Collins, Graham, Grassley, Rubio, and 
Shelby, and Senators Cornyn and Romney are introducing today. They will 
be coming to the floor shortly to introduce their components.
  Together, their bills make up the HEALS Act--health, economic 
assistance, liability protection, and schools--health, economic 
assistance, liability protection, and schools.
  Just like in March, with the CARES Act, Senate Republicans have 
authored another bold framework to help our Nation. Now we need our 
Democratic colleagues to reprise their part as well. They need to put 
aside the partisan stonewalling we saw on police reform and rediscover 
the spirit of urgency that got the CARES Act across the finish line, 
and quickly join us around the negotiating table.
  It will take bipartisan cooperation to make the HEALS Act into law 
for the American people. The Senate will not waste time with pointless 
partisanship. There is a reason why even Speaker Pelosi and Leader 
Schumer themselves have publicly downplayed the multitrillion-dollar 
socialist manifesto they published a few weeks back and have suggested 
the real, serious discussion would begin when Republicans released our 
outline.
  We have produced a tailored and targeted draft that will cut right to 
the heart of three distinct crises facing our country--getting kids 
back in school, getting workers back to work, and winning the 
healthcare fight against the virus--kids, jobs, and healthcare.
  First, our Nation's kids. Chairmen Alexander, Blunt, and Shelby will 
be introducing a sweeping package to help schools and universities 
reopen safely. We are talking about more than $100 billion--more for an 
education fund than House Democrats put aside in a bill that spent 
multiple trillions. There are policies to help childcare providers and 
schools have the flexibility they need to function.
  Second, jobs. Since our Nation has one foot in the pandemic and one 
foot in the recovery, our economic policies have to acknowledge both 
sides of that coin. Chairman Grassley will introduce another round of 
direct checks for households at the same amount as before, with even 
more support for families who care for vulnerable adult dependents.
  Chairmen Collins and Rubio have designed a sequel to their historic 
PPP to help prevent more layoffs of American workers.
  Republicans want to continue a Federal supplement to State 
unemployment insurance. In fact, we will propose a weekly dollar amount 
that is eight times what Democrats put in place when they controlled 
the White House and Congress during the great recession. But we have to 
do it in a way that does not slow down reopening.
  We are also going to help this country pivot into recovery. The 
American people don't just want relief; they want opportunity so long 
as the reopenings can be safe. So Chairman Grassley will walk through 
strong economic incentives to boost worker retention, get Americans 
rehired, and help small businesses buy the PPE, testing, and supplies 
that will protect employees and customers alike.
  Senator Romney has legislation to help a future Congress ensure our 
critical national trust funds remain strong.
  In looking to our long-term jobs future, there is no question this 
pandemic has America and our allies reexamining our degree of 
dependence on China. Chairman Graham is introducing a package of 
legislation that will incentivize PPE manufacturing right here at home. 
It will ensure that our efforts to rebuild our national stockpile of 
protective gear actually benefit American workers instead of just 
stimulating China, and it will bring a heightened focus to other key 
concerns, such as high-tech semiconductor manufacturing, critical 
minerals, and intellectual property theft so that the lessons of this 
pandemic do not go unlearned.
  Finally, healthcare. Chairmen Alexander, Grassley, and others I have 
already named have legislation to keep America on offense against this 
virus for diagnostics, treatments, vaccines, hospitals and healthcare 
workers, and protecting seniors who rely on Medicare from premium 
spikes. Our legislation supports all of it at continued historic 
levels.
  In tying kids, jobs, and healthcare all together, Senator Cornyn has 
authored strong legal liability protections so that nurses, doctors, 
charities, school districts, colleges, and employers can spend their 
next months actually reopening rather than fighting for their lives 
against frivolous lawsuits. We will preserve accountability in the 
event of gross negligence or intentional misconduct, but we are not 
going to let trial lawyers throw a party on the backs of the frontline 
workers and institutions that have fought this new enemy on the 
frontlines.
  Health, economic assistance, liability, and schools--another historic 
package for the next phase of this historic national fight.
  To make a law, bipartisan talks need to come next. So there is one 
big question facing the country right now: Which version of our 
distinguished Democratic colleagues are the American people about to 
get? Are we going to get the Democratic Party we got in March, when our 
colleagues met us in good-faith negotiations and worked with us to turn 
our framework into a bipartisan product--the Democrats who helped us 
pass the largest rescue package in American history without one 
dissenting vote--or will the country get the Democratic Party we saw in 
June, when our colleagues refused to suggest amendments or improvements 
to Senator Tim Scott's police reform bill and chose to block the issue 
altogether?
  Their actions last month left some observers wondering whether the 
Democrats had made this cynical choice to give up on bipartisan 
legislation altogether right through November, whether the Democrats 
had determined that strengthening our Nation with bipartisan action 
might hurt their political odds and, therefore, it might suit their 
fortunes better if pain and chaos simply continued. I hope that is 
completely off base. I know our Democratic colleagues know this crisis 
is still urgent. I know they know American families need more help.
  I hope this strong proposal will occasion a real response, not 
partisan cheap shots, not the predictable, tired, old rhetoric as 
though these were ordinary times and the Nation could afford ordinary 
politics. We cannot have a Senate minority decide in June it is done 
legislating until November. The pandemic is not finished. The economic 
pain is not finished, so Congress cannot be finished either.

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