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tv   Republican Senators on Coronavirus Relief Package  CSPAN  July 28, 2020 6:12pm-6:35pm EDT

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assistant secretary for health at hhs, the admiral, before the health select subcommittee on the national comprehensive plan on the coronavirus pandemic. watch live hearing coverage wednesday and thursday on c-span3 and friday on c-span2, live streaming and on-demand viewing at c-span.org, or listen on the go with the c-span radio app. leader spokeican to reporters earlier today about the gop coronavirus relief package. majority leader mitch mcconnell said they would not vote on a bill unless it includes liability protections. this is 20 minutes.
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senator mcconnell: good afternoon, everyone. we just had a fulsome discussion of the proposals that were developed over the last two
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weeks by various republican colleagues in conjunction with the administration, including the presence of secretary mnuchin and the president's chief of staff, and we are now in the process of absorbing all of this, and we know that the process of reaching out to the democrats has begun. obviously, that will be led by mark meadows and steven mnuchin. today to underscore again that no bill will be put on the senate floor that does not have liability protections. and i want to make sure everybody understands here we are not talking about for businesses. please do not write to, because that is not the entire story. this issue is our callee, senator cornyn, and i will ask him to come forward now
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and explain exactly what the liability protection is about. senator cornyn: well, it strikes me as a crude joke to send essential workers in to treat patients at our hospitals and then to tell them that after the pandemic is over, after you have done your job, we are going to subject you to opportunistic litigation. so we provided the leaders instruction of a liability provision that protects nonprofits, protects churches, synagogues, mosques, schools, retail establishments from opportunistic litigation. what do i mean by that? well, anybody who has spent any time in courtrooms knows that frequently, lawsuits will be filed not with the intent of actually winning the case on the nuisancet extorting a settlement out of the defendant.
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in other words, you can actually be on the right side of a lawsuit and find yourself subjected to ruinous attorneys whatand distraction from we would hope more people would be focused on, which is reopening safely their business and helping to regrow the economy. what we are proposing is not blanket immunity. if somebody willfully or intentionally subject someone to harm, they will be held accountable in a court of law, but for people who in good faith follow the advice of their state or local public health officials , they will have a safe harbor under this new, federal law. this will be a temporary provision. it will expire in 2024. it is not our intention to subject american court law to federal jurisdiction exclusively, that in this national emergency, during this
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pandemic, and during the time the economy needs to safely reopen, liability protections are important for everyone. >> well, you heard that leaders say and senator cornyn talk about what is in this bill. we have a proposal out there now that addresses a lot of the concerns that we have heard about, and we did this in a very thoughtful, deliberative way. as you all know, we have listened carefully to what communities and states are saying, other folks out there who have been impacted by some of the things we have passed. we have monitored the implementation of what we have already done and look for ways we could improve some of those programs, and this bill reflects that. this is a transitional bill. it is a bridge bill. we are kind of in a transitional period, and we know a lot more about this now than we did back in march, when the cares package
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past, but i think this improves upon that, is more targeted, more focused in terms of where it puts resources, and really puts it on the target where we need it the most. and i think there is a lot here to agree on. i think that, frankly, this could be a bipartisan process, and it should be. the democrats have a bill out there passed by the house, as you know, $3 trillion, with lots of extraneous provisions, part of their policy agenda and nothing to do with dealing with the coronavirus. ours deals with schools, elementary, secondary, colleges, and universities, makes sure we get our schools open safely this fall. it deals with health care, continued funding for testing and for therapeutics and for vaccines and support for our health care infrastructure, for doctors and nurses and people on the front lines. it deals with unemployment insurance in a way that does not diss incentivize people to not
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work or to stay on unemployment, to not get back to work, but provides that safety net for the people who need it out there, and, of course, it addresses the small businesses out there that are the economic engine that drive our economy by making changes to the ppp program that we think are significant and meaningful. it is a bipartisan bill. the democrats can get up there and say what they want. i have three provisions, one cosponsored by tammy baldwin and sherrod brown, one by tina smith, and so there are lots of bipartisan provisions in this bill. there is a lot to work with here. if the democrats want to play a constructive role, get us to a solution that actually addresses where the country is right now, we have a start here, and we hope that they will enter into negotiations in a way that can make this as successful and bipartisan as the last cares package was.
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you have seen the headlines in "the washington post." this is yesterday. protests exploded costs -- across the country. police declare riots. the entire democratic party has turned its back on the safety and security of the american people. you can see the grisly results on television date in and date in and day out. voter registrations across the country are hitting record numbers. we are seeing in real-time the impact of democrats falling to defund the police. some democrats here on capitol hill call these "peaceful protests." many are not. this is organized violence. it is destruction and intimidation, and whether it is democratic mayors or governors,
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or chuck schumer or nancy pelosi or joe biden, who is the democrat nominee for president, they have surrendered to the mob . they have surrendered to the criminals and the cold-blooded killers. they are refusing to stand up to the mob. is they are tolerant of the burning and the looting and the killing, and nancy pelosi, speaker of the house, when asked about criminal "olence, gang violence, said, people will do what people will do." the top to bottom, destruction and the death is laid at the feet of the democrat every one ofch and them deserves to be defeated for it in november.
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>> well, this bill continues to focus on the fight against the virus, and the fight for the economy cannot really be successfully waged unless the fight against the virus that is successful in testing and -- weent, in vaccines have got about $50 billion in .his bill for those things on the vaccine and treatment areas that we are looking at and even testing, trying to develop the absolutely safe, fda-approved vaccine, for example, while we are making our best guess as to what is going to get to that approval, and going ahead and producing vaccines, so when we get approval, that vaccine will be available. if it does not get approved, that vaccine will be destroyed, but the difference between having a vaccine in the middle of january and the middle of may
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is an incredible difference as we try to work forward, so we have got the money there and also language in this bill that requires health and human services to quickly get about the business of determining the priority of treatments and vaccines, the priority of treatments, tests, and vaccines, determining what is the best way we can get that vaccine available, when it is available. how do you get it distributed fairly and equitably around the country? i mentioned to the chief of staff again today in our meeting that by october 1, we need to know what that plan is, even if we are not going to have a vaccine to distribute until january 1. there is no reason we do not know what the distribution plan is by october 1, and for that, we also need to know what is the fair priorities so that when the american people look at the great investment in these areas, they will understand that they were treated, again, fairly and
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equitably in a way that produces the best results in the fairest way, and that is all in the requirements of this bill. well, the act introduced yesterday by the republican-controlled senate includes protections for our businesses, for our health care providers, for schools, which will be essential moving forward. it will give our schools and our businesses the tools to continue to open and our health care providers to continue to assist those most in need during this difficult time. i was really glad to see a number of the provisions that i have been working on for some period of time have been included in this legislation, and one is telehealth. there is a telehealth bill that i think can continue to provide
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quality care and improve access for hoosiers and other americans that was incorporated into this. another provision that i think will resonate with so many hoosiers is one that will allow states to upgrade their unemployment insurance systems. this has been a serious challenge, as we have had to adopt a one-size-fits-all approach across the nation as it relates to unemployment insurance payments. this would help with that architecture. then the other provision is additional resources for our providers. this is not just an issue of keeping our children safe and secure. of course, it is that, but it is also one that allows parents to go back to work, which is what the american public want to do. there is also a very important concept that was adopted from my restart act than i am proud was thisporated in
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legislation. that is to provide long-term, working capital for our hardest-hit businesses, the small and medium-sized enterprises that have seen significant drops in revenue. they need continued assistance so those engines of prosperity can continue to survive. this builds on the earlier success that senator bennett and i had in getting a provision from our restart act into earlier legislation that passed the u.s. senate, which extended the eligibility period to receive a check protection program loans. that, too, has benefited countless hoosier businesses. we still have work to do, and i know that republicans here in the united states senate are committed to continuing to optimize eligibility requirements and the loan criteria associated with the
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provisions to help our hardest-it businesses. that is certainly my function. we need to make sure that any gaps that exist, and i do believe that some exist, need to be filled so that our hardest-hit businesses will receive the assistance they need and so that employers and employees alike who, through no fault of their own, find themselves in dire financial circumstances can ultimately find their way through this difficult time. >> senator mcconnell, republicans today who support it or even knew about it -- the fbi building being put into the legislation. mnuchin and maddens -- meadows, did they explain that? senator mcconnell: let me respond myself.
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i'm opposed to non-germane elements, whether it is funding the fbi building or whether it is a tax cut for high income earners in blue states or other nongermane amendments in the house bill, like marijuana studies or aid to illegal immigrants. when we get to the end of the process, i would hope that all of the non-covid related measures are out, no matter what bills they were in at the start. yes? >> what do you say to workers across the country who worry that your liability protection basically gives employers license to avoid taking the kinds of precautions to keep them safe? senator mcconnell: this is mainly to protect them, because the employers would only be liable if they were grossly negligent or engaged in intentional misbehavior, so that is essentially a mischaracterization of whose interests this liability nurses,on provides, for
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for doctors, for workers, for others. with this brand-new disease, as senator cornyn pointed out, almost anybody could be found liable for almost anything, and there are enterprising trial lawyers all over the country looking to take advantage of what was already past today, and so i think this is totally fair to everyone who was trying to deal with this unknown illness. john, you want to add? senator: the only thing i would say is we incentivize businesses to follow the guidelines and guidance of state and local public health and other officials, and if they do in good faith, then they get the benefit of this safe harbor. if they do not, if they are reckless in the way they expose their customers or their employees or other people to --s virus, then they will be they will be accountable for
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that. members ofe essential workers who died who worry they will not be able to >> well that's just not true. we want to make sure that people can safely go back to work. we want to make sure that children can go safely back to school. there is the threat of litigation, some businesses that have been hanging on by a thread providing employment for hundreds of people they figure, i'm just going to throw in the towel, it's just not worth it. because even though i may win the case, i'm going to be subjected to years of litigation and huge costs, hiring lawyers to defend the case, and, frankly, i do think this strikes the right balance. by the way, 30 states have passed similar legislation when it comes to medical workers, including governor cuomo's state of new york, the state with the
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my lording -- minority leader. this is aligning incentives so that people who want to protect their workforce and third parties, and i think help get our economy jumpstarted again. let me just add one more point. there is zero chance america can get back to normal without the yn liability protection and no bill will get on the senate floor that does not include. >> [indiscernible] is there a chance you go to recess -- sen. mcconnell: there is no way to answer all those hypotheticals. the interaction with the democrats has seriously begun, and we will keep you posted. >> there appear to be some divisions in your conference, lindsey graham said if you can get half the conference at this
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point would be an accomplishment. how are you going to bring in a republican congressman to support this? sen. mcconnell: i have nothing to say but the obvious, that i have members all over the lot on this one. some members say we need to do more. this is a complicated problem. we have done the best we can to develop a consensus among the broadest number of republican senators, and that's just the starting place. that's just where we begin in dealing with the other side and with the administration. [indiscernible] does that reduction give you any pause when unemployment is tied to the number of available jobs? tell younnell: i can what the goal is. the goal is to eliminate the prospect that one could make working.working than
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that's the goal of the proposal that we put forward. i can speak for almost every republican in saying that we think it is not appropriate to reward someone, in effect, for staying at home. having said that, unemployment insurance is extremely important in a time of high unemployment. we are going to back the states up and try to make sure that we can get through this period of unemployment without people losing their unemployment benefits. sweet trying to hit that spot to continue unemployment insurance at an adequate level, but not, in effect, pay people to stay at home. that's the sweet spot that we are trying to hit. thank you.
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>> senate democratic leaders also spoke with reporters this afternoon on the upcoming agenda and the gop coronavirus relief legislation. sen. schumer: ok, good afternoon everybody. just for a moment, before we start, we just passed 150,000 deaths from coronavirus, so i thought we would just have a moment of silence, thinking of those we lost and their families and friends. thank you.

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