Durbin: Senate Should Be Focused On Public Health & Economic Crisis, Not Confirming Right-Wing Judges

In Speech On Senate Floor, Durbin Also Cautioned Against Reopening Our States And Nation Too Early

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) today outlined what the Senate should be focused on as it reconvenes in Washington, D.C., including ramping up coronavirus testing, securing personal protective equipment for frontline workers, providing oversight of the Paycheck Protection Program, and expanding vote by mail ahead of the November election.  In a speech on the Senate floor, Durbin called out Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for being solely focused on confirming federal judicial nominees instead of addressing the ongoing public health and economic crisis.

“What is the essential work this Senate should be doing?  Investigating why we don’t have enough testing in this country – it is essential to reopening the economy.  Working with state, local, and tribal governments to help them hire and train the estimated 300,000 contact tracers needed to reopen America safely.  Rather than forcing states to bid against each other, we have to plead with the President to use his authority under the Defense Production Act to produce here in America the respirators and other PPE that is essential for workers and families.  We ought to provide oversight of the Paycheck Protection Program and make sure that those loans are going to small businesses – as we originally intended – and not to wealthy hedge fund operators.  We ought to be working on plans to shore up the US Postal Service – an essential public service created under our Constitution,” Durbin said.  “We ought to be making plans to ensure that every American voter can vote by mail in the November election, given the likelihood that this lethal virus will still be threatening us.”

Durbin continued, “If this Senate is going to gather as a body during this pandemic, against the medical advice of some and the sound judgement of others, let’s make sure that our work is essential.  We are still waiting for a report from the Republican Majority Leader about the agenda that brought us to Washington.”

Durbin also cautioned against reopening our states and nation too early.

“To reopen our states and nation before we have done the hard and careful work that is required to reopen safely only risks more infections, more deaths, more lost jobs, more economic hardship.  Reopening before we can reopen safely risks overwhelming our hospitals and ICUs,” Durbin said.  “We need to listen to the public health experts, and the doctors, and the nurses, many of whom have worked past exhaustion.  We need to be responsible and not give in to the chants on the street.

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

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