TRANSCRIPT: MURPHY CALLS FOR RAPID CONGRESSIONAL ACTION TO AID THOSE IMPACTED BY THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

HARTFORD—U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, joined U.S. Senate Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) at a press conference on Friday to call on the U.S. Senate to quickly pass legislation to provide relief for workers, small businesses, health care providers, and first responders in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. During his remarks, Murphy called for a series of proposals the federal government can implement to help stop the spread of the disease and help families impacted.

“We should be in Congress right now passing an emergency bill to make sure that the families here in Hartford who are going to have to take time off work, either because their businesses are curtailing their hours or because their kids are coming home from school, don't face economic ruin,” said Murphy.

Murphy added: “[W]ithin a mile of where we're sitting today are thousands of parents who are going to have to make very tough decisions in the next few weeks. They're going to have to take time off work. And those thousands of parents can't afford to miss one single paycheck. For many families here in Hartford and all across the state, if you miss one paycheck, you are on the brink of financial ruin. You can't buy groceries; you can't afford for diapers; you can't pay your mortgage. And so we can't wait until next week to pass legislation to provide paid sick leave or increased unemployment benefits. We need to be doing that today. Right now.”

“We have lost time. There's no doubt about it. But by getting serious now, by passing emergency legislation now, by implementing tough measures locally now, we can make up for that lost time. And we will be back on the Senate floor the minute that that legislation arrives to the Senate, and I hope Senator McConnell will take it up with all deliberate speed,” Murphy concluded.

A full transcript of Murphy’s opening remarks can be found below:

“Let me first express my thanks to the health care providers, the public servants, the local and state leaders throughout Connecticut who have stepped up to the plate.

“We've shown leadership here in Connecticut in both the public and private sector that has been lacking from the Trump administration. It's been left to us here in Connecticut to show a way forward. And I'm grateful to Governor Lamont and his team and the health care professionals hear at Charter Oak and throughout the state who have made tough decisions to help Connecticut residents safe.

“Senator Blumenthal is right. We shouldn't be here right now. Mitch McConnell shouldn't have sent the Senate home for the weekend. We should be in Congress right now passing an emergency bill to make sure that the families here in Hartford who are going to have to take time off work, either because their businesses are curtailing their hours or because their kids are coming home from school, don't face economic ruin. 

“You know, within a mile of where we're sitting today are thousands of parents who are going to have to make very tough decisions in the next few weeks. They're going to have to take time off work. And those thousands of parents can't afford to miss one single paycheck. For many families here in Hartford and all across the state, if you miss one paycheck, you are on the brink of financial ruin. You can't buy groceries; you can't afford for diapers; you can't pay your mortgage. And so we can't wait until next week to pass legislation to provide paid sick leave or increased unemployment benefits. We need to be doing that today. Right now.

“Our hope is that the House will pass this legislation today, that it will be bipartisan, and that we can take it up as quickly as possible in the Senate. We need to send a signal to families all across this country that we are going to have their back when they make the sacrifices necessary to get this country through this crisis.

“I have been deeply critical of the president's non-response to this public health emergency. It is simply stunning the lack of leadership that the president has shown. It is unfathomable that we have a chief executive of the United States who is making up facts on a near daily basis, endangering the lives of millions of Americans. And I will continue to point out all the ways in which this president has gotten the response to this pandemic badly wrong. But we need to be focused today on how we get it right. 

“First, the president needs to declare a national public health emergency. Amazingly, he has not done that yet. And so it is left to state individually, as Senator Blumenthal mentioned, to apply for federal emergency aid. We should be declaring a national public health emergency. One of the things that that would unlock is massive amounts of new funding for laboratories all across the country in order to step up testing.

“Second, we need to have a dramatically new approach to testing approvals. We need more public and private sector labs available to manage and administer these tests and, thus far, the FDA has been woefully, woefully slow in approving these new lab capacities.

“Third, we need this legislation passed to provide economic supports to families. Over the course of the last two weeks, the administration has seemed more interested in bailing out Wall Street, more interested in bailing out the oil industry, and not interested enough in bailing out families who are going to potentially lose their shirts over the next few weeks if we don't come to their aid. Our focus right now needs to be not on industry bailouts, it needs to be bailing out individual families who are directly affected by this crisis. 

“And then lastly, we need more direct guidance from the federal government on social distancing measures. I'm glad that state governments and local governments and private industry have recognized the void in leadership at the national level and have stepped up to provide leadership. But these decisions are being made in the absence of federal guidance and leadership. The CDC should be much more active in providing clear guidance to states and to industry as to the steps they need to take in terms of closures and suspensions of operations. That has not happened. And as a result, we are behind schedule in terms of implementing the kind of measures that will keep us safe. 

“Listen, we are still the United States of America. We can do things more efficiently, more quickly, and more nimbly here in any other nation in the world. We have lost time. There's no doubt about it. But by getting serious now, by passing emergency legislation now, by implementing tough measures locally now, we can make up for that lost time. And we will be back on the Senate floor the minute that that legislation arrives to the Senate, and I hope Senator McConnell will take it up with all deliberate speed. We'd be happy to answer your questions.”

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