ads@hoyendelaware.com | 05-Apr-2020 07:24:49 pm

Sen. Coons on COVID-19 pandemic: “We should act immediately”

Escrito el 17 Mar 2020
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WASHINGTON – Yesterday, U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) delivered remarks on the Senate floor about the Senate’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The most important decisions that are being made tonight are around America's kitchen table, where folks are looking at each other and saying how much longer will I have a job? How much longer will we be able to put food on the table? How will we care for our kids that are unexpectedly home from school or college or overseas for days or weeks? How much longer can we stay in our home until we have to go see our mom, our grandma, our uncle, our father who is in a skilled nursing facility, who is scared and alone?” said Senator Coons.

“Instead of being here in a largely empty chamber with nothing on our agenda tonight, we should be taking up, debating, passing, and sending to the president for signature bold strokes that will give confidence to the American people and address the concerns that families all over our nation are facing tonight, and then for our health and the health of our staff and our families, we should go into recess, but we should not do so, as we just did for a long weekend, until we take up and pass the pressing measures of national interest,” said Senator Coons.



Senator Coons’ remarks, as delivered, are below:

Mr. President, I rise to speak briefly about hard decisions. There are hard decisions that have been made all over our country in recent days and weeks. Decisions by superintendents of school districts whether to shut down their schools and send their children home. Hard decisions made by mayors about how to provide for first responders, for those who run the paramedic and ambulance and police services, the 911 centers, and the public hospitals. Decisions by governors about where and when and whether to declare states of emergency. And we have seen decisions made by faith leaders, by sports leaders, by school leaders, leaders of all types at all levels.

But the most important decisions that are being made tonight are around America's kitchen tables, where folks are looking at each other and saying: ‘How much longer will I have a job?’ ‘How much longer will we be able to put food on the table?’ ‘How will we care for our kids that are unexpectedly home from school or college or overseas for days or weeks?’ ‘How much longer can we stay in our home until we have to go see our mom, our grandma, our uncle, our father who is in a skilled nursing facility, who is scared and alone?’

Just this afternoon, seven counties in California have announced a shelter in place order. We have seen counties, cities, and communities all over our country gradually move from a very relaxed and casual attitude to a very concerned attitude to being on high alert to now in a half dozen communities around our country looking more like Italy than they do like America of a month ago. It has been a slow, rolling response.

We should have been here this weekend to make sure that the Senate of the United States stepped forward and did our job and made our hard decisions. I take some encouragement from the fact that the first round of support, $8.3 billion, got crafted, taken up, passed, and signed into law in just a matter of two weeks. Long overdue, but $8.3 billion that went out for vaccine development, for test kits, for personal protective equipment, to put a floor underneath this burgeoning public health crisis that is COVID-19 as it has spread now to every state in our country.

The next package that's already been passed by the House that should be considered by this body, we must take up and pass immediately, and it directly speaks to those hard decisions at homes all over our country. It speaks to folks who are concerned that they don't have health insurance. It speaks to folks who are concerned that they don't have unemployment insurance. It speaks to folks who don't know where their kids who used to get school lunches are going to get their next good meal. It speaks to some of the challenges of the very most vulnerable in our country.

I don't know about my colleagues, but I took a lot of phone calls this weekend from constituents who are concerned, who are anxious, who are angry, who want to know what we are doing at the federal level to provide backup. Folks who run nonprofits that are struggling to keep their services available and to stay open under great pressure. Folks who run faith services in our community, who canceled their services, closed their buildings, but now have a half dozen organizations communities rely on, whether it's a food pantry, a clothes closet, or a job training service. Folks who are anxious about what will happen to their staff and their students at their schools. In particular, folks who are anxious about what will happen to the seniors in their skilled nursing facilities or in their hospitals.

As you have heard my colleagues speak to, our hospital system does not have the capacity for thousands and thousands of newly diagnosed folks to present themselves at emergency rooms and seeking hospitalization around our country. We should act immediately to deliver the sorts of mobilized federal resources that the Army Corps of Engineers, that the Veterans Administration, that the Department of Defense and that state and local FEMA affiliates and agencies can deliver to scale up our response in a prompt and appropriate way, and we should not leave this building and session until we have taken up and put together a package that will provide an appropriate stimulus for working families all over our country, to provide a floor for small businesses and for working families who will be gravely concerned tonight about what will happen tomorrow.

We’ve got hard choices to make, but that's why people hire us. Instead of being here in a largely empty chamber with nothing on our agenda tonight, we should be taking up, debating, passing, and sending to the President for signature bold strokes that will give confidence to the American people and address the concerns that families all over our nation are facing tonight, and then for our health and the health of our staff and our families, we should go into recess, but we should not do so, as we just did for a long weekend, until we take up and pass these pressing measures of national interest.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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