‘As I’ve said, the Senate will not let our national security be shoved off course. Certainly not by Senators who have spent years trying to gut America’s capabilities while our adversaries continue ramping up. The Senate will stay on this important bill until we complete it, one way or another.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding NDAA and COVID-19 relief:
“Today, the Senate was supposed to finish legislation securing critical tools, training, and support for America’s armed forces.
“But the junior Senator for Vermont had other ideas.
“Remember, Senator Sanders spent this past summer literally trying to defund our military. Not my words, but the title of a piece he published: “Defund the Pentagon: The liberal case.”
“Our colleague authored an amendment to strip 10% of funding from our service members and decimate our defense budget.
“The Russians aren’t cutting military funding. China isn’t cutting funding. But last summer, Senator Sanders and fellow Democrats, including the Democratic Leader, voted to make America unilaterally disarm and cut ours.
“The left took a break from trying to defund the police to try to defund our Armed Forces.
“Their amendment went down in a landslide. But now our colleague from Vermont is again putting political stunts before the needs of our men and women in uniform.
“Our colleague says he will slow down this vital bill unless he gets to muscle through another standalone proposal from Speaker Pelosi that would add roughly half a trillion dollars to the national debt.
“Which does not align with what President Trump has suggested.
“And which has no realistic path to quickly pass the Senate.
“Well, as I’ve said, the Senate will not let our national security be shoved off course. Certainly not by Senators who have spent years trying to gut America’s capabilities while our adversaries continue ramping up.
“The Senate will stay on this important bill until we complete it, one way or another.
“Now let’s talk about COVID-19 relief.
“Four days ago, President Trump signed the second-largest rescue package in American history.
“The largest one was the CARES Act in March.
“Due to this pandemic and our massive response, we now have a national debt far larger than our entire economy for the first time since World War II.
“But we knew our people needed more help. So Congress just passed another nearly $900 billion in emergency relief, targeted to those who need help most.
“A second round of payroll support to save small-business jobs.
“More unemployment aid. Vaccine distribution money.
“Funding for safe schools. And much more.
“In addition to historic amounts of targeted help, at the request of President Trump and his team, the package also included another round of direct relief checks to households — whether or not each household needs the help, whether or not their finances have changed dramatically this past year.
“Yesterday, Secretary Mnuchin announced households should begin receiving those payments as early as today and this week. That is more good news for a lot of people.
“After Congress and the Administration finalized the bipartisan bill, the President expressed interest in further expanding the non-targeted direct payments.
“So, to ensure the President was comfortable signing the bill into law, the Senate committed to beginning one process that would combine three of the President’s priorities: Larger direct checks; a repeal of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act; and further efforts to review the integrity of our democracy.
“Three of the President’s priorities in one Senate process. That was the commitment, and that’s what happened yesterday when I introduced text reflecting just what the President had requested.
“Now, House and Senate Democrats want something very different.
“As they have tried to do countless times in the past four years, Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer are trying to pull a fast one on the President and the American people.
“First of all, they are hoping everyone just forgets about election integrity and Big Tech. They are desperate to ignore those two parts of President Trump’s request. Draw your own conclusions.
“And even on the question of larger checks, the Democrats have tried to warp what President Trump laid out.
“Look, it’s no secret that Republicans have a diversity of views about the wisdom of borrowing hundreds of billions more to send out more non-targeted money, including to many households that have suffered no loss of income during this crisis.
“COVID-19 has not affected all households equally. Not even close.
“It is hardly clear that the federal government’s top priority should be sending thousands of dollars to, for example, a childless couple making well into six figures who have been comfortably teleworking all year.
“Our duty is to get help to the people who need help. Like we did to an historic degree just four days ago.
“But above and beyond that discussion, the Democratic leaders have broken from what President Trump proposed. They quietly changed his proposal in an attempt to let wealthy households suck up even more money.
“Speaker Pelosi structured her bill so that a family of four would have to earn more than $300,000 in order not to qualify for more cash.
“A family of three could pull in $250,000 per year — a quarter of a million dollars — and still qualify for some money.
“And Democratic leaders want to call this scheme, quote, “survival checks.”
“Only my friends Speaker Pelosi and the Democratic Leader could look at households in New York and California who make $300,000… in households where nobody has been laid off… where earnings did not even drop this past year… and conclude these rich constituents of theirs need “survival checks” financed by taxpayer dollars and borrowed money.
“Everyone sees the game here.
“These are the same Democrats who proudly block the entire aid package for months because they tried to hold out for special tax cuts for rich people in blue states.
“Now they say it’s a matter of “survival” to send another boatload of cash to people making $300,000, regardless of whether they have experienced any disruption at all this past year.
“Even the liberal Washington Post editorial board is laughing at the political left for demanding more huge giveaways with no relationship to need.
“Here’s what they wrote: ‘Especially wrongheaded… is the progressive left, spearheaded by Sen. Bernie Sanders, who depicts the $2,000 as aid to ‘desperate’ Americans despite the huge amounts destined for perfectly comfortable families.’
“That’s from the editors of the Washington Post.
“The Wall Street Journal, usually their opposite number, agrees. These non-targeted ‘checks are unnecessary,’ and struggling households can access targeted support like ‘expanded jobless benefits, food stamps, child-care subsidies and much more.’
“The liberal economist Larry Summers, President Clinton’s Treasury Secretary and President Obama’s NEC director, says, quote, ‘there is no good economic argument’ for universal $2,000 checks at this moment. He points out the CARES Act and the brand-new law will already have boosted overall household income, relative to the economy, back to its pre-pandemic levels, if not higher.
“If specific struggling households need still more help after the huge, historic package that was just signed into law four days ago has taken effect, then what they will need is smart, targeted aid.
“Not another firehose of borrowed money that encompasses other people who are doing just fine.
“In my view, colleagues like Senator Cornyn from Texas and Senator Toomey from Pennsylvania have pointed this out persuasively.
“But, more broadly, here’s the deal:
“The Senate is not going to split apart the three issues that President Trump linked together just because Democrats are afraid to address two of them.
“The Senate is not going to be bullied into rushing out more borrowed money into the hands of the Democrats’ rich friends who don’t need the help.
“We just approved almost a trillion dollars in aid a few days ago. It struck a balance between broad support for all kinds of households and a lot more targeted relief for those who need help most.
“We are going to stay smart, we’re going to stay focused, and we’re going to continue delivering on the needs of our nation.”