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Rep. Courtney: “Lead, Follow, or Get Out of The Way” on Effort to Negotiate New COVID-19 Economic Aid Package

July 30, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Following reports this morning that U.S. economic output fell by an unprecedented 9.5% in the second quarter—the fastest pace on record—Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02) spoke from the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives to call on the Senate bring forward a serious new aid package that responds to the growing economic fallout from COVID-19.

In his remarks, Courtney used the words of General George S. Patton in calling on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to “Lead, follow, or get out of the way” in terms of negotiating a new COVID-19 aid package. Congressman Courtney stated that the Senate’s initial proposal—which was introduce on Monday, over ten weeks after House passage of the HEROES Act—is “totally inadequate, totally insufficient” to respond to the magnitude of the COVID-19 economic crisis.

Rep. Courtney Calls on Senate to "Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way" on Next COVID-19 Aid Bill
Click here to watch Rep. Courtney’s full remarks

“One of the most dynamic and striking figures in American history was General George [Patton]. He was famous for saying ‘Lead, follow, or get out of the way.’ Those words—which were given at a time of world crisis, when he was leading the Third Army through France and Germany—still ring true today. We are in a world crisis.

“This morning, the government released its GDP numbers and it showed that in the second quarter, the U.S. economy shrunk by [nearly] 10%. That is the largest number since the government started recording GDP numbers, since 1947. […] But what is even more concerning is that the new numbers in terms of new, first-time unemployed claims this morning, grew again this past week to 1.43 million claims.

“Yesterday, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, Jerome Powell, foot-stomped the fact that not just the numbers from last quarter are of concern, but looking out into the future, the Federal Reserve sees trouble ahead. […] Mr. Powell, back in May, warned us that the CARES Act wasn’t going to be enough—this economy needed more fiscal stimulus. And the House did show leadership because we passed the HEROES Act, which was a package of fiscal measures whose cornerstone was extending unemployment compensation, and state and local assistance—following the lead of the Federal Reserve Board Chairman, who said those were the most efficient ways to make sure this economy did not falter.

Rep. Courtney voted to pass the HEROES Act on May 15th—nearly three months ago. The bill represents the House’s fifth legislative effort to respond to the economic and public health crisis brought on by COVID-19. In addition to providing hazard pay to essential frontline workers and extending unemployment insurance, the HEROES Act would pump funding directly to small and rural towns with fewer than 50,000 residents, support testing, tracing, and treatment efforts, and much more.

Courtney continued:

“Well, here we are today—finally, after the Senate responded with sort-of-a-package, which is completely missing any relief for state and local government, and which has this convoluted employment extension which Secretary Scalia, President Trump’s own Secretary of Labor, said would take eight weeks for state government departments of labor to implement. [It’s] totally inadequate, totally insufficient to deal with the magnitude of the challenge.

“Again, when we look at state and local assistance, there is not a member in this body who does not have a board of education, a local school, council, or finance board that is struggling with making sure that public safety, public education, and public works are going to continue. Because revenue is cratering just the way that the government showed this morning that the economy is cratering.

“You know we have this debate about defunding the police—not voting for the HEROES Act was de facto defunding the police. How are local governments, which primarily fund police departments, going to have the resources in this economy to make sure that people’s public safety is in fact protected?

“[…] McConnell’s plan, which he released earlier this week, his own people called it a mess, a mistake, [like] Ted Cruz. And the President said it was semi-irrelevant. It is time to wake up and get serious. The blueprint is there with the HEROES Act in terms of making sure that we heed the warnings of President Trump’s own economic advisors, [like] Chairman Powell, and look at the numbers the morning—historic, jaw-dropping. We need to act. It is time to listen to General [Patton]—lead, follow, or get out of the way.”

To watch Congressman Courtney’s full remarks, click here.