McCarthy on Coronavirus Legislation: ‘I Think We Can Get This Done in 24-48 Hours’

Melanie Arter | March 12, 2020 | 11:31am EDT
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(Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

( – House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) complained Thursday that the Democrats’ coronavirus bill “comes up short” and that the proposal to have the Social Security Administration administer a paid sick leave program will take more than six months and hamper SSA from getting regular Social Security payments to people right now.

 “Under Pelosi's bill, the Social Security Administration will be set up to administer the paid sick leave program. Now, this will take more than six months, so it won’t work in time. It also will hamper the administration from putting out social security for those who need it right now that are in harm's way. 


“This will hurt the very population that we’re supposed to be helping,” he said. “It forces permanent paid sick leave for all businesses without exemptions and no sunsets.”

Republicans are committed to getting it right, so they are working with the White House, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), McCarthy said. However, he cautioned not to rush on passing legislation, but to get it right and sure it works.

Republicans are proposing an employee retention credit and making public health emergencies eligible for major disaster programs. They also have legislation to make more masks available for health care providers.
McCarthy pledged that the GOP will not play politics but will work with Democrats to pass a bill that works best for everyone.

One thing I would say to all of America, we have overcome bigger challenges in this country. Every time we have a disaster in others, it shows the very best of this country working together and coming together and to actually making us stronger in the end. I’ll make this commitment to everyone. Republicans will not play politics. We're not going to criticize and sit back.

“We are going to work to make this right. I think our best thing we could do is take a deep breath. Let's work together to make sure whatever bill we can pass right here works to the need best for everyone. We have put our ideas forward. We want to work with the speaker. We want to show the leadership that not only this country wants but this country deserves. 

“This is our moment in time that I believe in history that we come together. I know we will get through this. I know at the end of the day we will find to do what is right, and I want to make that day starting right now. I think the actions the president took was correct, and I think when you talk to the governors out across this nation, they are showing it’s working well with this administration. We need to do the very same right here in the House. 

When asked how important it is to get a bill passed before the congressional recess, McCarthy predicted they could get something done in the next 48 hours.

I think it's more important that we get it right. I'm not concerned that we go on recess. I think we stay here. We get it right. This is a time and place that you do not want to rush something. I mean, it's not just my words. If you talk to Democrats on the Rules Committee themselves … This has jurisdictions on many committees. No one got to see it. It’s there at 11:00 last night. 

Just as your question raises, I think it's more important we take a moment to step back, let's work together. There are bright minds. We should be listening to those in the industry. We’ve got some bright minds in the administration, here on our committees as well. Let them look at it. Let us get together and put the very best ideas together, and I will promise you that you’ll find a very bipartisan vote for that and not one that slows it up by any means, and I think we can get this done in the next 48 hours. 

“So you think the House should stay here until you get it done?” a reporter asked.

“I think we can get this done in 24 or 48 hours, yes. I think it's critical that we do,” McCarthy said.

Congress is set to go into recess for one week on Monday and return on March 23. 

Meanwhile, the Capitol Visitor’s Center will be closed to all tours. The Capitol and Senate office buildings will be accessible to members, staff, and credentialed media through the sergeant-at-arms, Roll Call reported.

Also, a staffer for Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) has tested positive for coronavirus. This after at least six congressmen have self-quarantined for coming into contact with someone who tested positive for the virus, Fox News reported.



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