Oct 2, 2020
Mitch McConnell Georgetown, KY Press Conference Transcript October 2
Mitch McConnell spoke at a press conference in Georgetown, Kentucky on October 2, 2020. Read the full transcript of his statements here.
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Mitch McConnell: (01:35)
Well, thank you, William. It’s great to be here. This has ended up being quite a big news day. So I think what I’ll do first is talk about what I was originally coming here to talk about so we don’t leave that out, and then I’ll address some of the issues of the day that have developed that I know a lot of you are interested in.
Mitch McConnell: (01:57)
William mentioned the CARES Act. To take you back to the beginning of the year, we in the Senate started off with an impeachment trial, about as partisan an activity as you can imagine, and as soon as that ended, we got hit with the pandemic. We were given the most incredible advice, but good advice by the nation’s top infectious disease experts that we needed to basically shut the economy down and send everybody home. So we had both a hundred-year healthcare pandemic and an economic crisis all at once. What to do?
Mitch McConnell: (02:37)
Well, what we ended up doing was the CARES Act that William referred to that, along with a couple of other companion pieces of legislation in March and April, basically flooded the country with $3 trillion and borrowed money to try to attack both the health and the economic crisis created by the health problem.
Mitch McConnell: (03:04)
In that, of course, there was a considerable amount of money for a variety of different activities. We have people from the state government here in Kentucky got $12 billion out of that. About a billion of the 12 went to hospitals like this one. $5.2 billion in loans were drawn down by 50,000 Kentucky small businesses through the popular PPP loan program. I think clearly we did float the economy, because it had gone from a 50-year best in February down to a depression level in about two and a half months.
Mitch McConnell: (03:47)
Do we need to do more? We do, and that’s been a struggle, because we overcame all of the partisan juices that were flowing in a presidential year back in March and April and managed to come together and pass the CARES Act without a single dissenting vote. But as time passed and the campaign heated up, it became more difficult.
Mitch McConnell: (04:10)
As all of you know, the talks continue, and I’ll get back to that in a minute. But for this hospital in particular, just to put the particulars on it, and for this county in particular, Phillip and Damon and others, Mark, Scott County got $13 million. 6. 6 million out of the provider fund came to you, William. The Medicare accelerated payment program just this week, just this week, we passed a law to delay repayment and to reduce the interest rate on that. You got $4.3 million out of that particular pool. Over at Georgetown College, they got a little less than a million dollars.
Mitch McConnell: (04:55)
So as you can see, the CARES Act spread the funding all across the economy, both on the healthcare side and on the economic side. So that gives you an example of what it meant to this county and this hospital in particular.
Mitch McConnell: (05:11)
Now, with regard to the way forward, the talks continue. You’ve seen the back and forth between the House and the Trump administration. I’m trying to figure out here whether I should predict another bill quickly or not, but the talks have speeded up in the last couple of days, led by the Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, for the administration. Of course, the Speaker carries the ball for the Democrats, and I’m in the discussions as well.
Mitch McConnell: (05:49)
I think we’re closer to getting an outcome, and I can assure you, William, that if we get an outcome, I can’t imagine there won’t be more in it for hospitals, because you all have been on the front lines. I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank the great healthcare providers here at Georgetown Hospital who are on the front lines. Imagine. They were dealing with a disease no one understood, and it took a good deal of courage. It reminded me of people running into burning buildings 20 years ago, heading toward the unknown and not knowing what the impact might well be on them. So we’re grateful.
Mitch McConnell: (06:29)
We know a little bit more about the disease now than we did, but the question is when will we get this behind us? Testing, treatment, and vaccines have been pursued. If you’re familiar with World War II history, they called the effort to get the atomic bomb to end the war with Japan the Manhattan Project. We’re pursuing better testing, better treatment, and a vaccine in the same way that we pursued the atomic bomb during the Manhattan Project, with total focus.
Mitch McConnell: (07:07)
No corners are going to be cut. The FDA is not going to put their stamp of approval on any vaccine that doesn’t work. But we’re optimistic that we’re going to get one or more vaccines through these clinical trials that are all going on on several different ones in the very near future. But that also requires producing an incredible number of doses, as you can imagine, not only for our country, but for the rest of the world. This is a worldwide pandemic.
Mitch McConnell: (07:40)
So I try to remind everybody, and of course you do it in a hospital, but a lot of other people ought to pay attention to the importance of wearing a mask and practicing social distancing, because that’s about the only thing any of us can do until we get a vaccine and can kill this virus and put it behind us, which leads me to the news of the day.
Mitch McConnell: (08:02)
I talked to the President this morning. He was in good spirits, but obviously, as you can imagine, not happy to be cooped up in the White House for a while. But as the White House Press Secretary and others have announced today, in fact, he and I also talked business during the course of our discussion this morning. I want to wish him and the First Lady well, and I’m confident he will be able to get through this and recover nicely.
Mitch McConnell: (08:36)
With that, I think I’ll throw it open for questions. We have a lot of things going on with not only the coronavirus, but also we have a Supreme Court pending and other matters. So who’d like to lead off? Daniel, were you first?
Yep. Have you been tested today? Have you been tested since Saturday, when I believe you were at the White House?
Mitch McConnell: (08:59)
Yeah. What we’re doing in the Senate-
Mitch McConnell: (09:03)
What we’re doing in the Senate is following the CDC guidelines. We have since may, when the Senate went back into session after being out for about five weeks, when we were all sent home all over the country. And we’re following the CDC guidelines. If you watched us, we’ve got our masks on. We practice social distancing. We’ve had a few members in quarantine at various times, but we’ve been able to function. With regard to specific questions about who’s done what, when, I can assure you that we are practicing all of the CDC guidelines in the Senate, all of them, and have been since the 1st of May.
Speaker 1: (09:42)
That doesn’t answer the question about you [crosstalk 00:09:43]-
Mitch McConnell: (09:44)
I am answering your question. We are following the CDC guidelines. I’m not going to go into a… Have I ever been tested? Yes.
Speaker 1: (09:52)
Well, have you been tested-
Mitch McConnell: (09:53)
I’m not going to answer questions about when. We are following the guidelines that we are given by the CDC.
Speaker 2: (10:04)
Yes. If Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed by the US Senate to the Supreme Court and the conservatives have a six, three majority, do you hope that they strike down the Affordable Care Act and pull it out, root and branch, as you’ve said in the past?
Mitch McConnell: (10:22)
Well, it’s very difficult to predict what the Supreme Court is going to do on any issue. People who presence have frequently been disappointed by the outcome of justices they’ve appointed. No one knows. When they’re sworn in, they promise to uphold the Constitution and the laws of United States. And they have a lifetime appointment. And the ability to influence that is basically non-existent. What I can tell you is, we have a stunningly impressive nominee.
Mitch McConnell: (10:56)
From a personal point of view, as you’ve read, she got a great family with seven kids, two of them adopted, one with special needs. Just imagining how she and her husband are organizing their days each day, with both of them with busy professional lives, is astonishing. Everybody who’s ever met her and worked with her over the years, thinks she’s brilliant. And I, for one, as somebody who didn’t go to an Ivy League law school, she’d be the first member of the current Supreme Court who didn’t go to either Harvard or Yale. How about that? Let’s hear it for middle America. I can also tell you that once the nominee comes out of Judiciary Committee, we will move forward quickly to take the nomination up.
Speaker 2: (11:48)
Do you hope the ACA is struck down?
Mitch McConnell: (11:51)
That’ll be up to the Supreme court. I’m not a fan of Obamacare, but how they ultimately rule on something, has always been a mystery to people over the years.
Speaker 3: (12:01)
Have you met lately in person with the president, the first lady, the senator from Utah who’s tested positive, or anyone else that we’ve learned in the last couple of days has tested positive for coronavirus?
Mitch McConnell: (12:11)
Speaker 4: (12:16)
Sir, if there’s another stimulus package passed, will that mean another $1,200 checks to the American citizens?
Mitch McConnell: (12:24)
I hope so. I laid out a proposal a few weeks ago that we actually voted on in the Senate that did include another round of direct checks for low income people, particularly to give you an example of an industry that’s been really hard hit, the hospitality field, people who worked in hotels and restaurants. If there’s a final negotiated package, I hope that that’ll be a part of it. And I would expect that it would be.
Speaker 5: (12:55)
Let’s get someone new here, Joe, if you don’t mind. Then you can come back if there’s time.
Speaker 6: (12:59)
Can you expand on how the president is feeling and if he’s experiencing any symptoms that you know of?
Mitch McConnell: (13:06)
Could you pull your mask down?
Speaker 6: (13:07)
Can you expand on how the president is feeling when you spoke with him earlier and if he’s experiencing any symptoms-
Mitch McConnell: (13:12)
Well, he said he was feeling fine. And we talked business most of the time. And so it seemed like to me, a relatively normal conversation, except for this intervening event for which was the reason I called him to see how he was doing and wish him well.
Speaker 6: (13:31)
He didn’t describe any symptoms that he was experiencing?
Mitch McConnell: (13:34)
No. That’s the gist of the conversation.
Speaker 7: (13:39)
Did that the debate come up with your conversation with President Trump, and how do you think that that should proceed moving forward?
Mitch McConnell: (13:47)
We didn’t discuss the debate, but I think it’s safe to say it was not exactly a Lincoln-Douglas debate. I would hope that the next debate, both candidates would give the other one a chance to answer.
Speaker 7: (14:01)
Do you think a debate held remotely would be effective?
Mitch McConnell: (14:06)
We’ll find out. It’s supposed to be… Oh, remotely? It probably would work. I believe the next debate’s supposed to have an audience, but we’re doing so many things remotely now, I imagine it would be okay. Yeah.
Speaker 2: (14:24)
Does the Senate need a formal testing and contact tracing program for senators and all of their staff and the Capital progress? I think Chuck Schumer called for a formal process today, I believe.
Mitch McConnell: (14:35)
Yeah. As I said, we’re following the advice of the CDC in how we operate the Senate. And so far, we’ve been able to do it quite successfully.
Speaker 8: (14:45)
Some of your caucus have at least been quoted anonymously that they’re concerned about moving forward with the SCOTUS nominee, getting all the Republican senators together, and others coming down with coronavirus, pushing back timelines, getting issues pushed back closer to the election. Do you foresee that as a possibility of calling to a halt right now, until you can get a better grasp of who has COVID-19 in your party and who doesn’t?
Mitch McConnell: (15:10)
No. We’ve been operating in the same environment now since the 1st of May, and been able to do Senate business. There’s no reason why we can’t continue to do that.
Speaker 5: (15:24)
There’s time for one more if there is one.
Speaker 1: (15:25)
In terms of the timeline that you’re looking at with the confirmation process, do you hope that that vote is before election day on Amy Coney Barrett?
Mitch McConnell: (15:34)
Yeah. I’m planning on moving to the nomination as soon as it comes out of committee.
Speaker 1: (15:38)
Mitch McConnell: (15:43)
Speaker 2: (15:44)
I had one more.
Speaker 5: (15:46)
All right. One more.
Speaker 2: (15:48)
The Washington post reported today that some Republicans are talking about asking you to take the Senate out of session next week. So that the following week when Amy Coney Barrett has her hearings, everyone’s healthy, and they’re able to attend. Has anyone asked you to do that, or are you considering it-
Mitch McConnell: (16:05)
Has anyone asked me to do what?
Speaker 2: (16:06)
To take the Senate out of session next week, to ensure that everyone’s healthy and able to attend the following week when the hearings start-
Mitch McConnell: (16:14)
Look. We’re operating both when we’re in session and when we’re not in session successfully. There are times when the Senate is not in session. For example, for several weeks in August, traditionally, we aren’t in session. And we weren’t. But so far, the disease has not kept us from operating as we would normally. And there’s no reason to expect that to be the case in the foreseeable future. Thank you, everyone.