Republican Senator Blocks Attempts By Schumer And Murray To Pass Bills To Immediately Provide Paid Sick Leave, Emergency Unemployment Insurance, And Additional Medicaid Funding To Help American People In Wake Of Coronavirus Outbreak

March 12, 2020

Washington, D.C.—Today, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) delivered the below remarks ahead of Senate Democrats’ effort to pass legislation to provide paid sick leave, emergency unemployment insurance, and additional Medicaid funding to help the American people in wake of the coronavirus outbreak. Republican Senator Deb Fischer (R-NE) blocked Senate Democrats’ attempts to pass these bills. Shortly after these objections, Senate Republicans adjourned the Senate until Monday, March 16.

Leader Schumer’s remarks can be found here and below:

In a moment, Democrats will ask the Senate’s consent to take up and pass several measures that would immediately help American workers and American families cope with the impacts of the coronavirus, including paid sick leave for workers, emergency unemployment insurance, and much-needed assistance to states overburdened by Medicaid costs, known as FMAP.

These provisions are all included in legislation that will soon be passed by the House. Many of these policies have already been enacted by other countries dealing more successfully with the coronavirus than our country is. These policies are targeted directly at the workers and families impacted by its spread. They are not going to the big, wealthy corporations or powerful people or wealthy people. They are going right at the workers and families, average working people who need the help.

Now, the Republican Leader this morning called these provisions an “ideological wish list.” President Trump referred to them as “goodies.”

If  helping a construction worker who is laid off as a result of the virus is part of an “ideological wish list,” then God help those who believe that. If giving infected workers paid sick leave is a “goodie,” then God help those who think that. If making sure our states, localities, hospitals, and first responders are compensated for their efforts is “ideological,” is a “goodie”? Those who believe those things that have lost touch with needs and aspirations of the American people, and they need to talk to some real people who have been impacted by the coronavirus instead of sitting in their ideological towers.

With the comments made by the president and the Republican Leader, they have revealed their own ideology—that even in a time of public crisis and need, the president and the Republican Leader are more willing to entertain corporate tax cuts and bailing out industries than helping American workers and families.

The Senate should pass these bills—today. The Republican Leader should not be sending the Senate home for the weekend without taking action to help people who are, or will soon be, really hurting.

Senator Murray’s remarks can be found here and below:

This is simple. We need people who are sick to stay home if we have any hope of slowing the spread of this virus, but today one in four private sector workers in our country cannot stay home from work without losing a day's pay or potentially a job.

We've got to fight this virus with everything we've got, every single one of us, and that means we have to have policies in place that help people make the right choices for themselves, their families, and their communities.

Our bill will give all employees 14 paid sick days immediately, today, not next week, not the week after, today in public health emergencies like this one. In addition to allowing to accrue seven, meaning it would help workers and communities right now.

I urge Senate Republicans: treat this like the public health crisis it is. Allow parents, families, businesses, communities to have the peace of mind to know that we are acting today and take this urgent needed step.

This is nothing short of a chance to save lives and buy desperately needed time to fight this virus. Please don't waste it. Therefore, I ask unanimous consent the HELP committee be discharged from further consideration of S. 3415.

This is a bill that will allow Americans to earn paid sick time so they can address their own health needs and the health needs of their families. That the Senate proceed to its immediate consideration, the bill be considered read a third time and passed and the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate. 

###