Senator Stabenow: Michigan Families Need a Survival Package Now!

In a Floor Speech, Senator Stabenow Implores Republican Senators to Stop Blocking Assistance for Families + Small Businesses in Michigan

Friday, December 18, 2020

Senator Debbie Stabenow today spoke on the floor of the U.S. Senate on the COVID-19 crisis and the need to immediately pass help for families and businesses in Michigan.


“We need to pass this critical COVID-19 legislation today and give the American people the help they need and the help they deserve to survive the next few months of this health and economic crisis. A wonderful bipartisan effort brought us to this moment where we can provide a critical lifeline to Americans across the country. It would be a tragedy and an outrage if partisan efforts to undermine our economy and the success of our incoming president stops this urgent help from being passed. We need to get this done now,” said Senator Stabenow.


A video of the speech can be found here. A transcript is below.


“We truly don’t have any more time to waste. The American people are in desperate need of help. 


“I want to start by thanking all of my colleagues who have been working so hard together across the aisle to bring us to a point where we can actually provide some help, albeit temporary, to the American people. So thank you. I'm pleased to have been involved in elements of that negotiation and appreciate it. But we’re stuck right now.


“I just want to remind people of a few numbers. More than 1 in 3 American adults in a recent survey said they’re struggling to pay household expenses, including rent or mortgage. If we don’t get something done in the next hours or days, we are going to see thousands of people in Michigan lose their homes in the middle of the winter.


“7.8 million Americans have fallen into poverty since June. The number of people applying for unemployment keeps rising – 885,000 people filed initial claims last week. And thousands of people who are self-employed, who are contract workers, others will find themselves with zero support right after Christmas. Unless we take action.


“A recent survey found that 1 in 4 small businesses are in danger of closing if economic conditions don’t improve. 1 out of 4. I've talked to so many friends, so many people in Michigan, vibrant small businesses. They put it all on the line for that businesses they always wanted to have. And now they're barely holding on. And they need help, and they needed help before now. They need help now. They are waiting and waiting and holding their breath. 


“Up to 50 million Americans are struggling to feed their families right now. 1 out of 4 American households have experienced food insecurity in the last year. People who volunteer at the food bank. People who have always contributed to the food bank now find themselves waiting in their car for hours and hours for a box of food in the United States of America. We not only have a health pandemic, we have a hunger crisis going on, and people need help now. Now we have a health pandemic. We have a hunger crisis going on, and people need help now.


“And on top of that this past Wednesday, 3,638 Americans died in one day of coronavirus. And now we’re looking at government services shutting down in less than 12 hours. The backdrop of everything that is happening for Americans, despite all the good work that has been going on a bipartisan basis, we’re now within less than 12 hours of services for people and to our country shutting down.


“Why? Because my colleague, the Republican Senator from Pennsylvania, thinks it’s more important to take away the federal government’s ability to help people and help businesses and create jobs, than it is to actually help people.  


“Now, I want to say Senator Toomey and I had a wonderful hearing this week in our health subcommittee on Finance in which he chairs, and we have been working together, doing very important, meaningful things on Alzheimer's disease, and I very much enjoyed doing that. But on this issue, on this issue at this time, with so many people in pain and so much hardship at this moment, I don’t understand what he said that preventing the next Treasury Secretary and the Federal Reserve from relaunching the emergency credit facilities that support manufacturers and other job providers is ‘the most important thing’ in the COVID-19 package. 


“Really? Really? The most important thing in this package is to take away the tools of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve that have been used when we’re in crisis and we need to be a back stop for our businesses in the credit market, when we need to be supporting job providers and jobs? Really, that is the most important thing?


“Tell that to the mom who’s afraid her kids will end up on the street because she can’t pay her rent in January, which is two weeks away. Tell that to the small business owner who’s having to lay off her entire staff a week before Christmas. Tell that to a senior citizen who’s risking his health by waiting in an hours long line to get a box of food. Tell that to the health care workers who are literally putting their lives on the line to fight this pandemic.


“Really, taking away economic tools for the Treasury and the Fed are more important than people in our country, small businesses, farmers who have been hanging on? Really?


“Tell that to the thousands of American families who are preparing for their first holiday without loved ones who have been lost to this virus. 


“Just yesterday, another loss in Michigan, so many losses, thousands of losses, but a dear friend, a sheriff of Wayne County, Benny Napoleon. Today, a funeral for a friend as well in Detroit. So the most important thing is not supporting families, is not helping people at least get through the winter, at least get through the next several months to put food on the table and a roof over their heads and help their businesses and make sure the vaccines can be distributed and support our health care workers and put money into education and all the other things that are needed right now.


“The most important thing is to have a fight with the Treasury and Fed because you want to limit what they can do in terms of their powers to help people and to help businesses in a crisis. 


“Our nation is in a crisis. And we would be in an even deeper crisis right now if it weren’t for the Federal Reserve. The Federal Reserve stepped in early during the crisis. Under the current administration, I might add, where nobody was suggesting that we provide these kinds of amendments or restrictions then on the current administration, on the Trump Administration. I didn’t hear that debate. Maybe I missed it, but I didn’t hear that debate.


“But thank goodness we didn’t have that debate because they stepped in early, taking extraordinary measures to keep credit from freezing up for our businesses. This is the money that businesses use to provide services and keep people employed. And I have to say as someone’s coming to a major manufacturing state like Pennsylvania, like Ohio, like Indiana, like Wisconsin, that having the capacity for the Fed to step in and provide some confidence in the marketplace so that our auto suppliers, our other manufactures could get what they needed in terms of liquidity was critical to jobs. Thousands and thousands of jobs. The emergency powers that the Federal Reserve has were put in place during the 2008 financial crisis so that the Fed could respond quickly to the next crisis. Well, here we are in the next crisis. The crisis is all around us, and yet some are laser focused on taking away the Fed’s ability to respond in the future with a new president. Not the current president, but the future presidents. 


“This is like a fire department selling off its fire trucks while houses down the street are burning. 


“2020 has been brutal, really brutal on families and businesses and communities across the country. This crisis is not over, I really wish it was. We have hope because of the vaccines and more effective testing and so on. But this isn’t over and things could get worse in 2021 if we sabotage the very things that helped us this year. 


“If this is just about setting up a new president to not have the tools to make the economy better, what does that say about what people care about the people that we represent?  Ultimately it’s about people losing their jobs, it’s about businesses. It’s more than just about crass partisan politics.


“My friend Senator Schatz, who has a way with words on Twitter, put it this way: We almost have a bipartisan COVID package, but at the last minute some Republicans are making a demand that was never even mentioned as key to the negotiations. Never even mentioned until the last minute. He added this: “They want to block the Fed from helping the economy under Biden. It’s the reason we don’t have a deal.” 


“Is that really the reason we don’t have a deal to help people in our country right now?


“Just crass-partisan politics, wanting to set up a way for the next president to fail? Because when colleagues take away tools that a president, any president and the Federal Reserve have to boost the economy and prevent economic collapses, they are saying they care more about that crass political fight, make sure somebody looks bad, make sure somebody fails rather than caring about the people we represent who create the jobs, the businesses large and small, and the people who have those jobs, the people who need those jobs.


“Michigan is the proud home to so many small and medium sized manufacturing businesses who employ thousands of people. I know there are those same businesses across the country, including in the state of Pennsylvania where my colleague is advocating for this.


“I would urge, strongly urge at this moment in time, at the end of what has been such a horrible, difficult year for American, I would urge my colleague from Pennsylvania and any other supporting him to stop trying to undermine American jobs and our ability as a country to respond to the economic crisis that is still happening.


“Let’s stop stalling. We need to do our jobs to keep our military going and health care and education and transportation and all of the other critical services that the federal government funds. And we need to pass this critical COVID legislation today and give the American people the help they need and the help they deserve to survive the next few months of this health and economic crisis.


“A wonderful bipartisan effort brought us to this moment where we can provide a critical lifeline to Americans across the country. It would be a tragedy and an outrage if efforts to undermine our economy and the success of our incoming president stops this urgent help from being passed. We need to get this done now.”