HEALS ACT; Congressional Record Vol. 166, No. 140
(Senate - August 06, 2020)

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[Pages S5229-S5230]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                               HEALS ACT

  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, it has been 1 week since Senate 
Democrats forced the additional Federal benefit for jobless Americans 
to expire.
  Senate Republicans tried everything to prevent the lapse. That 
Monday, we rolled out a comprehensive proposal for another rescue 
package that would have kept extra Federal benefits flowing. The 
Democrats refused to act, so we tried to force the issue.
  One of our Senators requested unanimous consent to continue these 
benefits through the end of the year at a still historically generous 
level. This plan would have also corrected the bizarre choice facing 
American workers whom the system was actually paying more to stay home 
than to resume working, but that wasn't good enough for the Democratic 
leader, and he objected.
  Another Republican Senator then asked unanimous consent to extend 
Federal support exactly as it had been for 1 more week so that jobless 
Americans didn't have to bear the cost of the Democrats' leisurely 
negotiating pace. Once again, the Democratic leader objected.
  Finally, Republicans forced a floor vote to demonstrate whether 
Senators were even willing to debate the issue, whether Senators would 
even consider extending these benefits, and every single Democrat 
present voted no.
  The week since then has seen plenty of talk and plenty of stalling 
from the Democratic leaders, who have insisted on handling this 
themselves--but no significant movement toward progress. They have 
still kept their ranking members and more reasonable voices locked up. 
The Speaker and the Democratic leader continue to obstruct the kinds of 
committee-level discussions that delivered the CARES Act, which are no 
longer in style. Only they are allowed to speak. Only they among the

[[Page S5230]]

Democrats are allowed to have an opinion.
  Day after day, they have stonewalled the President's team. Day by 
day, they have tried to invent new euphemisms to create the illusion of 
progress. Yesterday's contribution from the Speaker was this: There is 
now a light at the end of the tunnel, but ``how long that tunnel is 
remains to be seen.'' Well, there are a lot of struggling Americans who 
could tell Speaker Pelosi exactly how long this tunnel has been and 
that it will continue to be endless unless the Democrats let us provide 
more relief to the country.
  Their second week of inaction has brought the country to a second 
cliff in coronavirus aid. Last week, it was the extra Federal benefit 
for laid-off workers. This week, it is the enormously popular Paycheck 
Protection Program that has kept millions more Americans off the 
unemployment rolls in the first place.
  The PPP was written and designed in March by Chairman Rubio and 
Chairman Collins as Main Street America was hurtling toward a cliff. 
Their innovative policy has saved small businesses on a massive scale. 
Hundreds of billions of dollars have gone out in emergency loans to 
more than 600,000 small businesses.
  I hear constantly from Kentuckians whose local businesses and whose 
jobs would not have survived the last several months without this 
program. From distilleries to medical device suppliers to domestic 
violence advocates, the PPP has helped community institutions weather 
the storm and keep more Kentuckians on the payroll.
  This emergency program hasn't been perfect, but it has been a huge, 
huge success. It has remained a success because, back in April, we 
finally got the Democrats to let us provide another wave of funding 
after a pointless delay and pointless brinksmanship--you may detect a 
pattern here--but now many of these businesses are reaching the ends of 
their ropes. Their PPP money is dwindling, but since the virus remains 
with us, even where shutdown orders have been lifted, commerce has not 
roared all the way back.
  One survey found that one in four workers who were hired back and 
kept getting paid because of the PPP has now been warned he might be 
let go again, and you can bet that number will increase.
  Here is how one business owner explained the looming danger to 
reporters: ``If there isn't another round of stimulus, we'll start 
cutting past the fat and to the bone, and that's our people, and our 
people are hard to replace.''
  Congress should be strengthening the PPP. Instead, the Democrats have 
put it in jeopardy. This Saturday, August 8, is the official deadline 
for anyone who hasn't yet gotten a loan to apply. The door closes the 
day after tomorrow, and many firms that did receive the assistance are 
getting nearer to the bottom of the well.
  This is why the Senate Republicans' blueprint for another major 
rescue package would put $190 billion into a second draw of the PPP for 
the businesses that most need help. The House Democrats' $3 trillion 
wish list totally left that out. They ignored the PPP. We want to re-up 
it
  This is just one of the many ways our serious proposal beats the 
absurd far-left wish list the Democrats' own moderate Members laughed 
out of the room. While they focus on unrelated liberal demands, like 
tax cuts for rich people in blue States, we are focused on serious 
solutions for the problems facing Americans right now.
  Yet, instead of getting serious, the Democratic leaders have chosen, 
instead, to misrepresent and even lie about what is at stake. The 
Democratic leader's repeated misstatements about the legal protections 
that the Senate Republicans and the White House want for schools, 
doctors, nurses, charities, and employers have earned him ``three 
Pinocchios'' from the Washington Post and a ``Mostly False'' rating 
from another fact-checker. Let me say that again. The Democratic 
leader's repeated misstatements about the legal protections the Senate 
Republicans and the White House want for schools, doctors, nurses, 
charities, and employers have earned him ``three Pinocchios'' from the 
Washington Post and a ``Mostly False'' rating from another fact-
checker. He doesn't even seem to realize that we modeled our medical 
malpractice reforms on the COVID-related protections that his fellow 
Democrats put in place in New York.
  So this is where we are--another week that the Speaker of the House 
and the Democratic leader have spent stonewalling the President's team 
in talks and holding out for ideological pet projects with no 
relationship whatsoever to the COVID crisis. Now, as a result, 
struggling Americans are facing another cliff, with another important 
form of relief on its last legs.
  We face a second straight week of political theater from our 
Democratic colleagues with no result--except more pain for families, 
more uncertainty for workers, and more evidence to suggest that perhaps 
the Democratic leaders were never serious about getting something 
accomplished in the first place.
  All across America, small business owners are hurting and hoping the 
Democrats get reasonable and allow another major package to move 
forward. Unemployed Americans need these endless talks to finally bear 
fruit, and so do school principals and working parents and senior 
citizens and nurses and doctors and university presidents and students 
of all ages.
  That is why I will not be adjourning the Senate for our August recess 
today as had been previously scheduled. I have told Republican Senators 
they will have 24-hours' notice before a vote, but the Senate will be 
convening on Monday, and I will be right here in Washington. The House 
has already skipped town, but the Senate will not adjourn for August 
unless and until the Democrats demonstrate they will never let an 
agreement materialize.
  A lot of Americans' hopes--a lot of American lives--are riding on the 
Democrats' endless talk. I hope they are not disappointed.

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