tv U.S. Senate Sen. Durbin Barrasso Cantwell on Coronavirus Economic Plan CSPAN March 26, 2020 12:02pm-12:32pm EDT
c-span2 here. >> follow the federal response to the the coronavirus firstname.lastname@example.org/coronavirus. watch congress, white house briefings and updates from governors. track the spread throughout the u.s. and the world with interactive maps. watch on-demand anytime unfiltered at c-span.org/coronavirus. >> ahead of the vote of the third coronavirus economic a blend several senators came to the floor to talk about the bill and how the pandemic is affecting their constituents. >> mr. president, america has ever seen anything like this before. to think that half the people who live in the united states under some order to either stay at home or at least avoid contact with others, unheard-of. this is an enemy, this virus, the likes of which we have never faced. a strong n and as determined as
our nation is when it comes to these challenges, this is unique. and the calls for unique leadership. there are a lot of critics of the united states congress andea for goodt reason. but i think what we demonstrate in the last several weeks since we've addressed this coronavirus is that there is a capacity for common sense, bipartisan work, and the timeliness that is essential. the first two measures were passed in record time, one for $8 billion that really opened the door for more medical resources. the second or $100 billion which tried to guarantee the people that would never have to pay to be tested for coronavirus, that would be adequate food supplies during this calamitous time, that we would have resources sent to the states for medicaid reimbursement at new levels, that we wouldpl also engage peoe
with family leave if necessary so that they can stay out of the workplace that they felt badly, and that we also have an idea that we would come together as a nation to move unemployment insurance with dispatch. that passed again and a timely way with a bipartisan vote. and then we came to the third challenge, a challenge the likes of which i've never seen in my time in congress, and i don't imagine anyone else has. because we decided in the span of about seven days to come up with a package of authorizations and appropriations which is larger than the annual federal budget for domestic discretionary spendingdi in america. in seven m days we did was usuay takes 12 months or longer, but we knew we had to your because the need is that great. and america was watching and wondering if we could rise to
the challenge. there were some bumps in the road, no surprise. and undertaking of that magnitude with this kind of pressure to get the job done quickly and properly is bound to great differences of opinion, and it did. there were moments of anxiety on the floor of f the senate, and those who have followed c-span have watched many speeches, that reflected the emotional levels that were reached in this chamber. but the emotions in this chamber were not that different than the emotions in most homes across america as people worry about whether this illness will touch their families. and if so, ,er will they be ablo conquer it? that emotion on the senate floor let us do for the negotiations in an effort to try to make a bill presented to us on sunday badder three days later. and that brings us to this moment.
history will judge as the senator from kentucky noted earlier, as to whether there's an improvement that's been made to the spoon over the last 72 hours. i'll just stand up and tell you, i would testify, definitely. definitely. the cause just consider the first priority. we have to make sure that hospitals and clinics and health care providers at every level in america are prepared to rise to this challenge, and we know this is the jumps the likes of which we have never seen. when the governor of new york suggest that hospitals of the great state expand the capacity by 50% as quickly as possible to take the incoming patients from this covid-19 virus and be prepared, he said, to expand it by 100%, we appreciate the magnitude of the challenge. on the democratic side, our leader senator schumer has
called it a marshall plan for hospitals and healthcare i don't think that's an exaggeration. the builder was presented to us on sunday envisioned some $75 billion for that purpose, manyua of us felt that was not adequate, as large as that number may be. so today we will bring a bill to the c floor that will increase that allocation for healthcare from the $75 billion in the bill just three days ago top $130 billion. is it enough? probably not. unless god spares us from the spread of this disease even further in the united states. but it says to those who are anxiously expanding their resources, expanding the number of beds, bring in retired medical personnel as the phone illinois is doing, that we hear them and we are providing them the resources to go to work to fight this
challenge that we face at every corner of the united states. the second thing that we set out to do when the bill was presented on sunday was to expand the opportunity for unemployment insurance. some have criticized us on the floor and said don't get into structural changes. well, you couldn't expand unemployment insurance without getting into a structural change. because the system which affects only a small percentage of americans is not adequate in most cases to keep a family together. if you lose your job and try to live on that unemployment check, it's hard to do. people lose their homes over that. their cars, they can't pay their utility bills. and so what we have done some it's been described as putting unemployment benefits on steroids. the amount of money which is going to be sent to families who were furloughed, laid-off or unemployed, is dramatically bigger that it would've been if we had not restructured
unemployment compensation. at the same time the president house suggested direct cash payments we . we never argued against those but said it's just a down payment, it's just a single check. we believe unemployment insurance is going to be a guarantee of payment for months to come. said sunday we expand i could expand the period of unemployment compensation from three months to four months. there's a a big price on that of course but we think it's reasonable to give people peacef of mind that perform at the babble babel to keep the families together ashr we work our way through this medical challenges, and god willing, see our economy back on its feet. i hope it happens. i hope it's even suda. sooner. for four preparedd months. the third thing we set out to do is one that is near and dear to me and my state, and all that in most of the states. we set out to compensate the states and some localities, counties and cities, which are
expending19 substantial sums of money because of covid-19 threats that they are facing. let's face it, for the most part our governors have been in the front line of defense when it comes to america's healthcare over the last several weeks. i have donewe exceptional thing, and even called on to spend money in ways they never dreamed that there would be called on to spend. for example, unemployment benefits which involves state payments in many respects have mushroomed and sky rocketed. sometimes ten times the that they were just last year at the same time. my governor, others, mayors, and the leaders of county government have come forward and said i couldey help us? we're spending a lot of money because of this covid-19. well, this bill does that. it was not an easy task. we had to convince the other side that there was money well spent. i'm happy to report that on a by person basis we reach that agreement, some $150 million
will be going to the state and local governments. as it should. those are things i believe will move us down the path toward resolving this challenge and american doing it a proper way. always keeping in mind that the welfare of workers and their families is a paramount concern. first, the investment in the medical side to stop the onslaught. second, the support for families and workers across america. there were some items that are still being debated on the floor here. you heard in the early statements by the majority leader, and those relate to the benefits to be given to businesses to keep them moving forward. we all understand the aviation industry is at the heart of the american economy. it is an engine in one respect to move it in a reflection of its activity in another respect. and that aviation industry is flat onso its back.
some 80-90% of 90% of the passenger load hasas disappeare. hundreds of thousands of employees and airline industry have come to t us and asked for help. and we're prepared to do that and that is part of the package that will come before us. the administration also asked for resources to be loaned to other businesses that need a helping hand. i'm not opposed to that. n some art but i'm not. but i do believe accountability and transparency are essential. since sunday we have dramatically changed this package so that there would be transparency and accountability on a timely basis as decisions are made by this administration to allocate these taxpayer funds to help these companies. some of us learned a bitter lesson in the past when benefits were given to corporations and they were misused for stock buybacks and dividends and profiteering in a time of great national need.
we don't want to repeat that story. we want to make certain that taxpayers dollars invested in these corporations are really decide to get them back on the feet and the economy moving forward for the benefit of everyone who lives in this country. soiv that accountability and transparency are essential. and i believe this new agreement, some three days after the original one was proposed, is an improvement. credit should be given to both sides for many of the things that i just mentioned it because democrats and republicans had to agree for this to make the final package. but we believe what we will vote on this afternoon and i believe will enjoy strong bipartisan support on the floor of the senate is a dramatic improvement in the last 72 hours. credit to both sides. we believe some of these ideas were essential and that's why we voted as he did on the floor. but to reach this agreement and bring it forward it took both sides. i want to slit my colleagues started witht of course the democratic leader senator schumer. he's put in some hours.
i can't tell how many times i step into his office and michelle, his assistant chemist told me he's in secretary mnuchin. they spent days together going into midnight, starting fresh early in the morning trying to reach an agreement, which i believe we have finally done. finally. there are just a few little items left but it don't think they will hold us up. soda senator schumer, his staff, and to all my college and ranking members, who pitched in in the committees of jurisdiction to try to come up with good ideas and to sell them at and a bipartisan agreement, the was an amount of work. special credit to the staff, my own and the others who have come to work in this dangerous moment. we're being told to stay home, telework from home where you have to our way you can. some cases you can't. and those who did jewel in the capital, including the staff editor today on the floor, combat risk we know that. risk to their own health and the health of the family members and
others that they love as we do. so i think them for this. i understand we may be gone for several weeks, and i think that is appropriate, but for a national emergency which calls us back and we will come back if that's necessary, i think we should take some time away from one another, away from the capital to really mind to our own health and well-being of her own families, and to work back home as best we can, teleconferencing and at the ways to let people know what we've done with this new legislation. i hope during this period of time that i can engage my colleagues in thinking about another issue. senator portman, republican of ohio, and i h have introduced legislation calling for at least an inquiry at this moment in history about remote voting are some different approach to voting that doesn't require our physical presence on the floor in times of national emergency. makes sense to the fact
of the matter is, our meetings of the senate almost every single day have violated cdc guidelines that tell us not together in in a group of ten r more. and yet we come to the fore because we have to because this is life or death when it comes to this legislation we're considering, and we know what our jobs are very we can find a better way to do this in the 21st century. usingol the technology that is available in some way different ways to haveot verifiable, accurate, honest voting for those who cannot or should not physically be present on the floor. i spoken to elizabeth mcdonough, the parliamentarian of the senate, and her staff, and want to engage in a conversation, what we know is that this is historic. and it really is a a dramatic change from what we've done in the past. but i don't think it's unrealistic. i think its reflects the reality of where wee are today with the
public health crisis or it may reflect on reality out of our which be some different national emergency or, government, some terrorist activity that keeps us away from this capital building when we still have work to do here so what do thank senator portman, senator klobuchar who has really been one of the leaders in this ever, senator schatz, whom i know is a cosponsor. we are not up to close to 20 20 cosponsors on a bipartisan basis to move forward and let's change this senate will. i hope we can have conference calls during the time we're physically away fromin the capil and move thisal idea forward to the house isou considering the same thing as well. now was the time to do it. it's time to bring this great body, the united states senate into the 21st century when it comes to executing our constitutional responsibility without endangering anyone, especially members and the staff and family. mr. president, i yielded the floor.
>> senator from wyoming. >> mr. president, for families, for healthcare workers comp for small businesses and people who are waking up today all across the country asking what's next. i believe today we can report there is good news. the resolve and determination of the senate working in a bipartisan way and working with the white house had delivered a rescue plan, rescue plan for the american people and for our american healthcare workers. today we're going to pass new authorities, new resources and new programs to deal with two crises that we as a nation are facing. one is a a medical crisis, the coronavirus, and the other is the economic crisis that is a result, direct result of the medical crisis that we are facing. the senate is providing an overwhelming, and a massive healthcare and economic response package. we're doing both, and we have to do both at the same time.
it's a rescue operation. the resources that are healthcare providers need and the resources that our economy needs. the healthcare resources are going to be surging for communities all around the country. every one of the 50 states is affected. over $100 billion for our hospitals and for the heroes who are taking care of coronavirus patients. mr. president, as you know i'm a physician, practiced medicine for long time in wyoming. people go into medicine so that they can do a number of things. you go into medicine, and what we expect of our healthcare providers, is to save lives, to cure the sick, and to prevent disease. for all of us men and women working in this profession i will tell you, this will be their finest hour. we are hearing about heroes all of the country and that's going to continue as long as this crisis is in effect. because that's over asking them to do every day, save lives,
heal theic sick, and prevent disease. we see that with our public health officers who out there tryinge to prevent disease. weni sit with, insecurities, people trying to heal the sick and to save the lives in the hospitals day and night. and what they're asking for us our resources, and that is now going to be provided in the bill that we're going to pass today, and will hopefully soon be on the president's desk. so were also surging dollars to individuals and families and businesses and distressed parts of our economy. direct money, $1200 per child.ual, $500 per you take a look at that, at $350 billion in bridge loans and grants to small and medium-sized businesses. unemployment insurance to make to people who are working are ready to go to work the next day but were not able to because of the
medical crisis affecting us. so workers who were not able to work right now to make sure that they are made whole. now, we have held the line against m so many of the ideological issues that democrats and specifically the speaker thousand tried to put into this legislation. we made it clear, lives are at stake. those are debates for another day. the crisis is upon us and the rescue work needs to be done. i believe time was wasted. time was -- we could have passed this last sunday. time was wasted and it's time that was wasted that the american people don't have and didn't have. but today we're working on this action plan. passed the senate bill today to stabilize americanar jobs, to search healthcare resources to the front lines. the house cannot delay. mr. president, the house needs to get this passed today and sent to the president of the united states for his signature
today. america should not wake up tomorrow and have to watch and wait and worry to see if the house was going to pass this bill. the house needs to act today. the american people need that reassurance today. families, young people, everyone, they have committed to slowing the spread for the remainder of the 15 day window, about a week or more to go. people are doing it all around the country. people are going to continue to ramp up manufacturing of medical equipment, massachusetts, ventilators, respirators to save lives. people keep cutting red tape and presidents scientific and medical breakthroughs for treatment and vaccines. going forward, and i see the minority leader on the floor, going forward, we h need to taka longur hard look at our supply chain. china has been exposed.
we cannot allow ourselves ever again to be in any way dependent on china for medicines, for materials, or for minerals. mr. president, my focus along with whats i know is the president's focus is a bring america back, stronger than ever before. we are a strong and resilient nation. we will get through this. our countries healthcare infrastructure and our economic resolve is today being tested. we will defeat the virus and we will be back stronger than ever. i thank you, mr. president, and i yield the floor. >> mr. president? >> senator from washington. >> mr. president, i come to theh floor to thank my colleagues for
hard work on this legislation and to urge my colleagues to move forward today because the state of washington desperately needs this hell. when i think about this package that literally has been crafted since saturday about 10:00 and people running to go and collaborate, and yes, there were many challenges to that collaboration, i also think about the people who were on the phone line in the state of washington who have paid such a heavy price. from the factory worker we just lost in everett, washington, to the covid-19 disease, to the grocery in the grocery store i was just tried to help deliver groceries to ao needed public, o the pathologist at the university of washington who was a leader in this field but also lostlo his life. real sacrifice and real crushing blows have been dealt in this disease but today we are responding with more help for our states. we are giving them more money for hospitals, more money for
the front line with protective gear, more money for testing,, and more money to support them as they continue the effort to try to stop this disease. it's so important that we get state andov local governments ad tribes the resources o they need to be on the front lines in fightingan this disease here ani think our governor, governor insulate come for leading that charge every single day in trying to focus our response on this disease. because we were the site of the first covid-19 case. we have been active since january 21. and the sadness that we've all felt over the kirkland nursing home where we lost so many patients, we hope will be a a lesson for theay rest of the nation to pay attention to the seriousness of this virus. we are here today though to also besides giving thatfr frontline support to states, the city's, to counties and to our
healthcare delivery system, , we are also here to say we want to try to lessen the economic impact of a shelter in place or social distancing. our . our businesses, small businesses, have been hit hard. our restaurants, our other businesses who shut down who don't have the same resources to come to washington, d.c., and a lobby for aid and support, but are counting on us to create a program that small businesses can get both grants and loans so the $360 billion in this program i hope sba will help dispatch with urgency to those businesses who have complied and have done their best to keep their employees while also setting down their business. we also know that the unemployment w benefits in this package, which will be for four months, will be a boost to getting people who are
unemployed and expansion of the definition to cover those who are part of a gig economy may not of been covered in the past is important to give people the safety net to make it through this process. i wish we would have come to terms on even allowing for cobra enhancements, particularly for the aerospace sector. i'll be filing a bill today to make sure that as we continue to move through this crisis, that we think about those who are going to have a shift, or laid off as we've seen in recent days and everett, washington, that they, too, could have healthcare beyond just one month of a cobra healthnt plan. it's so important in fighting this disease that not only take care of unemployment benefits but we also make sure people in unemployment have access to healthcare. we can't be in the midst of a pandemic and not give people affordable access to health care.
i also thank my colleagues for other provisions in this package that are helping in giving individual taxpayers relief in the sense of a rebate check. not only will individuals get a rebate check, but families a rebate check of $4400 that should help those who have been hit hardest by this disease to help in these sustaining days in which we are sheltering in place in theas state of washington. there's so many more things that we need to do, and while i support the element of supporting the aviation industry in this package, i wish that we would have gotten more requirements on the airline industry for the grant section of this bill. i personally believe that in the future any healthier airline industry, they should pay money back to the federal government. we certainly should be protecting the workforce during this time period, and that is
what is most important peer to make sure that an airline doesn't take money from the federal government or go into bankruptcy and shortchange the workers and the workforce, as has been done in previous packages to them. i fully support though the loan guarantee program and the loan guarantees that are so important and so qualified in this package to have very specific requirements to them. i also want to thank my colleagues from the banking committee who worked hard on provisions in this legislation to make sure there was more transparency in the process for who got access to the grants -- i'm sorry, to the loans in this package. while we think of the processes we have been through before on the processes we have been before on other lending, our college on this side of the aisle made sure that they were better requirements for oversight, inspector generals,
accounting of the resources, and to make sure that we knew exactly where these dollars were being spent. i know treasury will have its hands full, but because the democrats we will have more transparency in exactly how those dollars go out the door. so, mr. president, i want to thank leader schumer and his staff for working so diligently on this package. it has been a very hectic couple of days. and i woulds say a special thans to the commerce committee staff, to david strickland, melissa porter, david martin, ron altmann who literally have been camped out for probably since last saturday working and perfecting the language in these sections related to aviation. as i said, there's more work to do, and we all know there's more work to do. i know that i want to continue to fight for the aviation supply
chain to make sure that when we come out of this crisis after an economic downturn around the globe, that the united states is well-positioned to return the supply chain workforce to building one of america's best products, airplanes, one of america's greatest, actually, america's single largest export, airplanes. but to do that we're going to have to get through this crisis and protect what we think needs to be continued healthcare access to those laid-off workers. so let's get these dollars to the front lines, to our hospitals, to our states for better equipment, for more supplies. let's support them in doing what they do best, helping to fight this disease and seeing this through to the other side of america's challenge. i think the president and i yield the floor. >> madam president, the people in t