Senator Shaheen Delivers Weekly Democratic AddressApril 24, 2020
“This week, Congress came to an agreement on another bipartisan bill to help get our country through this crisis,” said Senator Shaheen (D-NH). “I joined with Democrats in insisting that this bill provide more to keep small businesses alive and workers on payroll. But the Trump Administration is allowing some large businesses and corporations to receive assistance through small business relief programs. That’s wrong and it must stop.”
Washington, D.C. – Following the passage of the bipartisan interim coronavirus funding bill, Senator Shaheen (D-NH) delivers this week’s Weekly Democratic Address. In the address, Senator Shaheen explains how Congress came together to provide relief to small businesses and how Democrats fought for and secured additional aid for hospitals, health care providers, and a national testing program. She emphasizes that now Democrats and Republicans must work together to conduct strict oversight of the Trump administration’s implementation of these programs to ensure that resources go to the most vulnerable small businesses, not well-connected corporations. In closing, Senator Shaheen underscores that as we look to the next phase of coronavirus legislation, Democrats will fight to fund state and local governments so they do not go bankrupt, as Leader McConnell has suggested, and to provide frontline workers with the additional pay they deserve.
Senator Shaheen’s remarks as delivered follow:
“Hi, I’m Jeanne Shaheen and I represent New Hampshire in the United States Senate.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is the worst crisis our country has faced in my lifetime. It has taken too many loved ones, far too soon. As a nation we are united in offering consolation to the many grieving families. And because of this crisis, there are too many families facing difficult struggles and in desperate need of assistance. We just recently learned that over 4 million more Americans lost their jobs and filed for unemployment last week.
“In New Hampshire, I’m also hearing from: small businesses that don’t know if they’ll survive the week; hospitals that are having to furlough workers as they struggle to treat COVID-19 patients; Small town mayors trying to protect their communities while tax revenues plummet; and food banks without enough food to serve the many more families who need help. Big challenges remain and people still need help.
“This week, Congress came to an agreement on another bipartisan bill to help get our country through this crisis. I joined with Democrats in insisting that this bill provide more to keep small businesses alive and workers on payroll.
“But the Trump Administration is allowing some large businesses and corporations to receive assistance through small business relief programs. That’s wrong and it must stop. I helped negotiate these programs and they weren’t intended for big business but rather for small business that are truly hurting. Republicans and Democrats must work together to make sure there’s strict oversight of these programs to prevent abuse.
“This week, we also secured relief for these smaller businesses with relationships with local lenders, not just big banks. We included financial support to hospitals and other healthcare providers so they can continue to treat patients during this pandemic and serve the many health needs in our communities. And because we must make testing more widely available, this new agreement includes new funding for testing.
“Testing is key to re-opening our economy and getting life back to some semblance of normal. President Trump has said that everyone who needs a test can get a test, but we know that’s not true. I recently spoke with a health care center in New Hampshire that had 5 tests – 5!—for their entire facility. That is just unacceptable.
“So much work remains. For instance, state and local governments desperately need help if they’re going to continue to support teachers, fire fighters, police, and municipal services while also marshalling COVID-19 response efforts.
“And yet, Mitch McConnell recently suggested that our cities and towns should just declare bankruptcy. Well that’s wrong. Our cities and towns need help. And we need to pass legislation that gives additional support for all those on the frontlines keeping our grocery stores and other essential businesses open, including our health care workers and first responders who are sacrificing so much for our health and safety. Our nation owes them a great debt. Health care workers in particular are working around the clock to save lives while providing comfort to COVID-19 patients who must be separated from their loved ones.
“Democrats in the Senate have proposed a Heroes Fund that would provide pay increases to keep existing workers on the job and incentives to support recruitment. For example, New Hampshire recently began paying home health care workers an additional $300 a week.
“Let’s get to work on these priorities in a bipartisan way. The American people need help. I know these are incredibly trying times for everyone. But it can’t be said enough that we are all in this together. Please, take time to check-in with your friends and neighbors to offer encouragement and support.
“We must continue to unite as a country and stand as one. That’s how we will overcome this crisis.
“Thank you for listening.”