Durbin Outlines Priorities for Third Coronavirus Economic Stimulus Package

Durbin also calls on Senate to consider bipartisan resolution to amend the Standing Rules of the Senate to allow Senators to vote remotely during a national crisis

WASHINGTON – Amid the coronavirus pandemic, U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) today outlined his priorities for a third coronavirus economic stimulus package to provide more support for working families, small businesses, hospitals, and health care workers.  In a speech on the Senate floor, Durbin called for the third coronavirus economic stimulus package to:

  • Include robust funding and needed flexibilities for our nation’s hospitals so that they have the resources necessary to best care for patients, as well as equipment and gear to keep health care providers safe;
  • Include Durbin’s Rural Hospital Relief Act, introduced along with Senator James Lankford (R-OK), which will provide immediate relief to the most financially vulnerable rural hospitals;
  • Ensure that individuals who lose their job—or otherwise become ineligible for health insurance—as a result of coronavirus do not also lose their health care by allowing for federal subsidization of COBRA health benefits;
  • Provide more resources to the National Guard so they have the means to tackle this crisis;
  • Ensure that our federal, state, and local prisons and jails have access to the supplies and resources they need, including safely releasing or transferring as many inmates as possible to home confinement—particularly those who are vulnerable and elderly;
  • Ensure state Unemployment Trust Fund accounts have more resources to get benefits to everyone who needs them;
  • Provide direct cash payments to support American workers and families who need it most;
  • Provide a surge of funding into current federal funding programs with increased flexibility to allow state and local government services to continue to operate;
  • Reform the Chapter 11 bankruptcy filings process to improve outcomes for workers and retirees—most importantly, by doubling to $20,000 the value of worker wage claims that are entitled to priority payment in bankruptcy; and,
  • Take steps to forgive student debt where appropriate, such as for students who were defrauded by for-profit colleges, and restore dischargeability in bankruptcy for student loans.

“For the next package that we’re considering here… Congress must step in with direct, immediate assistance to recognize the extreme financial burden and equipment shortfalls of hospitals and health care workers.  This has to be priority number one, period,” Durbin said.  “In short, bold policy ideas to help families during this time are not exclusive to either political party.  I look forward, as we have in the first two measures, to a bipartisan effort and a timely effort to respond.  America is counting on us.”

In his speech on the Senate floor, Durbin also discussed a bipartisan resolution he introduced today with Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) to amend the Standing Rules of the Senate to allow Senators to vote remotely during a national crisis.

“Senator Portman and I, on a bipartisan basis, are trying to find a way to achieve this goal and protect the integrity of the voting process in the United States Senate,” Durbin said.  “Yes, it is new.  Yes, it is different.  Yes, it reflects the 21st Century and reflects a challenge the likes of which we have never seen.”

Video of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor are available here.

Audio of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here for TV Stations.