WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding COVID-19 and the Paycheck Protection Program:
“Quote: ‘It would have been really hard for us to get through without it.’ That was the co-owner of Apollo Pizza, which has a handful of locations throughout Kentucky.
“Quote: ‘It touches my heart just knowing that I can bring folks back and gainfully employ people who need to work.’ That was a restaurateur in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
“Quote: ‘It’s pennies from heaven as far as our business is concerned.’ That was one small business owner in Highlands Ranch, Colorado.
“Quote: ‘It just made sense to us that if we’re going to be able to get money from the government… spend it on our employees.’ That’s from the fourth-generation owner of a bagel shop in Ferndale, Michigan.
“Those are just four of the millions and millions of hardworking Americans who’ve had an economic lifeline to help them endure this crisis year.
“That lifeline is the Paycheck Protection Program. The PPP.
“About seven months ago, our nation’s top medical experts recommended we do something without precedent: Shutter whole sectors of the economy to protect Americans from the pandemic.
“Congress needed an historic plan to help workers. Our colleagues Senator Rubio and Senator Collins stepped forward.
“They realized we could not simply let Main Street go under. We could not simply tell millions and millions more workers to forget about their jobs and join the unemployment rolls.
“We couldn’t just let every storefront except the biggest corporate retailers turn into permanent pandemic ghost towns. We had to give small businesses and their workers a fighting chance.
“The senior Senators for Maine and Florida found the solution. They invented the PPP.
“It would fund emergency loans to employers. And those loans would be forgivable so long as the money was used to keep paying their people.
“As far as emergency government rescues go, their idea was actually a bold free-enterprise policy. Don’t just sign everyone up for welfare; fight to save jobs. Keep workers connected to their jobs and paychecks.
“As we wrote the CARES Act, Senators Rubio and Collins got together with Senator Cardin and put the finishing touches on this program. Soon the PPP had become law without a single dissenting vote in either chamber.
“The program proved so popular that it quickly committed all its funding.
“So in April, we refilled it with more money. That was unanimous in the Senate, as well.
“Then in June, we tweaked the program on the fly to help small businesses even more. Once again it was unanimous — no objection from any Republican or any Democrat in the Senate.
“This program has the most bipartisan pedigree possible.
“And those bipartisan beginnings have led to a major policy success story.
“For millions of American workers from coast to coast, the PPP has made all the difference in the world. It has kept paychecks coming into their mailboxes and back accounts where there otherwise would have been pink slips.
“Every state, every town, every city knows the difference it has made.
“So where are we today?
“That historic first draw of the PPP has wound down. The program has closed to new applications. Many firms have run through their funds.
“But clearly our economic recovery remains a work in progress. For many workers, business has not come roaring back to normal, and it won’t until the health situation allows it.
“Fortunately, Senator Rubio and Senator Collins have stepped up again. Our colleagues have legislation that will re-fund and re-open the PPP.
“It will establish a whole second round for the hardest-hit small businesses that need help most. And thanks to the efforts of several colleagues, the legislation will also streamline the program and strengthen oversight.
“I would submit, that even for a Congress this divided, even in the year 2020, re-opening the PPP ought to be a no-brainer.
“There is bipartisan agreement that American workers still need help. There is already bipartisan infrastructure in place to provide that help.
“But there’s a problem. The PPP has been taken hostage. Just like funding for safe schools, more funding for testing, more funding for vaccines, more funding for federal unemployment benefits, and commonsense legal protections that charities and university presidents have been pleading for, the PPP has been taken hostage by Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer.
“The Democratic leaders have spent months holding out for a long far-left wish list of non-COVID-related priorities and obstructing any additional aid until they get it.
“All-or-nothing. That’s been their position. Either Democrats get every unrelated policy they want or American families get nothing. So for months, they’ve blocked bipartisan aid at every turn.
“The Democratic Leader even tried last night to adjourn the Senate so we could do nothing at all for three weeks.
“That’s how urgent he thinks it is to help working people. He wanted to go home for three weeks.
“Because President Trump will not just cave to the entire Democratic Party platform — because, for example, the President won’t simply hand out endless sums of cash to chronically-mismanaged state and city governments, out of proportion to COVID needs — Speaker Pelosi has seen to it that working families have gotten ‘nothing’ rather than ‘something.’
“Look — every Senator in this body knows this is not how people act if they actually want an outcome.
“American families, working families, have waited months and months for Speaker Pelosi to end her Marie Antoinette act and let Congress find common ground.
“There is no reason the second round of the Paycheck Protection Program should wait another day.
“So we’re going to vote on this legislation today. One clear vote on one clear program that everyone in this chamber says they want to pass.
“Well, I’ll let you in on a secret. There’s something Senators do when we want something to pass: We vote for it.
“It’s no counterargument to complain that the PPP legislation does not also contain 100 other things. The entire point is to agree where we can and make law while we keep arguing over the rest.
“If my Democratic colleagues oppose the job-saving PPP, they should come to the floor and say why. Otherwise, this afternoon should bring another unanimous vote.”