Schumer Floor Remarks Announcing Bipartisan Agreement On Coronavirus Response Legislation That Puts Workers And Public Health First

March 25, 2020

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today spoke on the Senate floor, announcing a bipartisan agreement for coronavirus response legislation that puts workers and the public health of Americans first. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

After five days of arduous negotiations, after sleep-deprived nights and marathon negotiating sessions, we have a bipartisan agreement on the largest rescue package in American history.

This is not a moment of celebration but one of necessity. We have the anguish of the American people—wondering about the future of their health, the health of their loved ones and the economy—necessitates us to do all we can to help them and help our country.

From the very beginning, Democrats have had two primary goals: a Marshall Plan for public health workers and hospitals on the front lines, and putting workers first.

The agreement now, after these five days, reflects those Democratic priorities, and we are proud that they are now part of this legislation.

Like all compromises, this bill is far from perfect, but we believe the legislation has been improved significantly to warrant its quick consideration and passage, and because many Democrats and Republicans were willing to do the serious and hard work, the bill is much better off than where it started. Democrats have succeeded in making the bill substantially better on many counts.

Here are four major pillars of the bill.

First, a Marshall Plan for our hospitals and medical needs. There is much more money for our hospitals, for our nurses and physicians, for our nursing homes, for our community health centers to do the job they need to do—over $130 billion.

Second, workers first. So many people are being put out of work through no fault of their own. They don't know what their future is gonna be like. How are they going to pay the bills? Well, we come to their rescue, and the most significant part of that is something we are proud to have devised—we call it unemployment compensation on steroids. Every American worker who is laid off will have their salary remunerated by the federal government so they can pay their bills. And because so many of them will be furloughed rather than fired, if they have benefits, they can continue, and—extremely important—they can stay with the company or small business. And that means that company or small business can reassemble once this awful plague is over and our economy can get going quickly.

Third, strict oversight, transparency, and accountability of all loans made to corporate America. We need oversight. We need transparency. Every loan document will be public and made available to Congress very quickly, so we can see where the money is going, what the terms are, and if it's fair to the American people. And an oversight board, as well as an IG, to make sure things are done on the level.

Fourth, real resources for our state and local governments. That was one of the last decisions we had to make. $150 billion to go to states and localities who are so hard-pressed because of all the new expenses that covid-19 puts upon them—and because they're not getting the resources they usually get, since taxes are delayed until June.

And finally, real, real help for small businesses. My dad was a small businessman, an exterminator. I know how small business people worry and suffer. They will be getting loans. Their employees will be paid by the federal government while they're closed because they don't have customers or services. And they can, too, bounce back afterwards. So this agreement is really an outstanding agreement.

To them, to all Americans I say: help is on the way. Big help and quick help. We're going to take up and pass this package to care for those who are now caring for us, and help carry millions of Americans through these dark economic times. 

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