WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) urged Senate members to work together to pass emergency legislation to deliver relief for American workers, families and small businesses financially challenged due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The Senate is considering its phase three plan, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
“We have to create a path to economic recovery…This is not stimulus plan, it’s an existence plan. We need to be helping Americans through this crisis by providing cash payouts, expanding unemployment benefits and by ensuring that there will be jobs for them to return to when this is all over. We have to pass this bill,” Boozman said.
The following is Boozman’s speech as prepared for delivery:
I arrived in Washington in November of 2001 after winning a special election to serve the people of the Third District of Arkansas in the House of Representatives.
This was shortly after 9/11.
It was an anxious time in the Capitol. Every one of my colleagues sought to find ways to work together to move major pieces of legislation that helped return a sense of normalcy that Americans so desperately sought in the wake of the attacks.
Given all that is at stake right now, for the life of me, I have not been able to understand why we have been struggling to do the same now.
Thankfully, the partisanship that dominated these past few days has subsided. It appears that we can now move forward after this unnecessary delay.
This is vital as we can’t afford to wait.
Many small businesses in America’s large cities and small towns alike are being forced to close during this crisis both to protect public health and because of a shrinking customer base, as consumers are urged to stay home to reduce the spread of the disease.
The unexpected closure for small business owners, through no fault of their own, may prevent many of them from reopening by the time this is behind us.
Those employed at these operations will be among the hardest hit financially by this crisis.
Entire industries that are vital to our nation’s economic wellbeing have been crushed by this pandemic.
The markets have taken a huge hit from this crisis, putting the retirement security of millions of Americans in jeopardy.
And it is certainly expected that our health care sector, strained to capacity by the coronavirus pandemic, will face substantial challenges moving forward.
Congress’s initial responses in the wake of the crisis were promising.
We came together to pass a comprehensive package to dramatically increase efforts to prevent the spread of the disease, treat Americans diagnosed with COVID-19 and support research to find a vaccine.
President Trump signed this bipartisan, bicameral emergency supplemental appropriations package that provided a surge in funding throughout the government—almost eight billion dollars—to meet the growing challenge we face.
It promotes a government-wide approach—channeling the collective energy, knowledge and talents of federal, state and local public health officials and healthcare professionals to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus and treat those who have been affected.
After that, the House passed a bipartisan relief bill, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, that includes paid emergency leave for workers, widespread coronavirus testing at no additional cost to patients and enhanced food security initiatives.
Last week my colleagues in this chamber worked together to approve the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and the president signed it into law.
This was the first step in our efforts to provide economic relief. We called it phase two.
There several aspects of that bill that the Senate would like to have changed, but for the sake of urgency and building bipartisan momentum, we passed the bill without a single amendment.
We put our differences to the side and did what we believed was in the best interest of the American people.
Republicans and Democrats alike agree that much more needed to be done to help individual Americans negatively affected by this crisis and stave off a massive economic disaster. That’s what this bill does.
Phase one provided immediate funding to address the public health crisis.
Phase two—the Families First Coronavirus Response Act—marked the beginning of our efforts to address the coronavirus’s economic impact.
It has a number of helpful provisions in it, but we have to build upon this effort and provide more relief to the American people in this time of crisis.
That is phase three—the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act—the bill we have been trying to move forward over the past several days.
The CARES Act would send billions of dollars to hospitals and healthcare providers—the men and women on the front lines of this fight.
It would send direct checks to millions of American households to offset the economic impact of the crisis and allow for a much-needed injection of liquidity into our economy.
It would expand unemployment insurance while stabilizing industries to prevent mass layoffs.
And it would provide dramatic relief to the lifeblood of our economy—our small businesses—which have taken a massive hit as a result of this unprecedented public health crisis.
We have to create a path to economic recovery.
We have told Americans they can’t go to work.
Businesses are unable to operate and, as a result of these measures, individuals are not getting a paycheck.
We need to be helping them through this crisis by providing cash payouts, expanding unemployment benefits and by ensuring that there will be jobs for Americans to return to when this is all over.
This is not stimulus plan, it’s an existence plan. We have to pass this bill.
Americans have lost faith in many of their institutions. This is a defining moment.
We have a chance to restore some of the confidence that has been lost by putting the needs of the nation over the wishes of the political class.
Americans are looking toward to Washington for leadership right now. This is a true test.
Let’s pass this bill and show them that we can rise up to the massive challenge before our nation.