“Mr. President, yesterday the Senate passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act – bipartisan legislation that will provide critical relief to American workers, families, and small businesses.
“Two weeks ago, the Senate passed the first phase of Congress’ coronavirus response – $8.3 billion in funding for coronavirus research, testing, and medical care.
“Yesterday’s bill was the second phase of that response.
“The Families First Coronavirus Response Act will ensure that all Americans can access coronavirus testing at no cost.
“The bill also ensures expanded telehealth access for Medicare recipients during this outbreak, which I strongly support.
“As a resident of a rural state, I’ve long been a supporter of telehealth for the expanded health care access it can deliver for rural communities.
“But the value of telehealth isn’t limited to rural areas.
“During an outbreak like this, for example, telehealth services can help keep patients – particularly vulnerable elderly patients – out of doctor’s offices and hospital waiting rooms.
“Patients can use a phone call or the internet to check in with their doctors for minor complaints or medication follow-ups, instead of having to venture out and be exposed to possible coronavirus infection.
“I’m very pleased that Medicare patients will have greater access to telehealth services during this outbreak.
“Mr. President, the largest part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act focuses on providing economic support for Americans during this difficult time.
“The bill makes provisions for paid sick leave and paid family and medical leave for American workers, particularly for those who might not otherwise have access to these benefits.
“It also invests additional money in unemployment insurance, so that benefits are available for those who need them.
“Mr. President, I’m pleased that we were able to pass this bipartisan bill that the House produced.
“But there’s more work to be done.
“The House bill only touches on a small part of what is needed to help Americans weather this storm – which is why Senate Republicans are currently working to develop the next phase of Congress’ response.
“Our legislation will address three priorities:
“Providing direct, immediate assistance to American workers and families.
“Giving our economy, especially our small businesses, the necessary support to weather this storm.
“And most importantly, providing medical professionals with the resources they need to fight this virus.
“I’ve been working closely with colleagues on the Senate Commerce and Finance Committees to develop the parts of the legislation that will address tax relief, particularly for small businesses, and support for industries that have been directly impacted by this pandemic, including the airline industry, which has taken a devastating hit from this outbreak.
“And the Senate will be here as long as it takes to get this additional legislation to the president’s desk.
“Mr. President, these are difficult days.
“This is new territory for most of us, and there’s a lot of uncertainty in the air.
“Americans are worried about their own health and that of their loved ones.
“They’re worried about what this outbreak will mean for their jobs and their financial health.
“It’s a difficult time for our country.
“But we are going to get through this.
“America has faced big challenges before, and we’ve come through them stronger.
“This time will be no different.
“I see the strength of America everywhere I look – in the dedicated doctors and nurses putting their lives on the line to care for the sick.
“In our first responders, who are always at the forefront of the response to any crisis.
“In the truck drivers, and grocery store employees, and delivery workers who keep on doing their jobs in the face of the outbreak, ensuring that all of us have the essentials we need.
“And in the thousands of ordinary Americans stepping up to help their neighbors – running to the grocery store for elderly or sick individuals, providing child care for those who can’t telework, looking out for those who are struggling financially.
“This is what will get us through.
“And I and my colleagues in Congress will continue to do our part to ensure that our country has everything it needs to weather this crisis and defeat this disease.”