Source: The News-Enterprise
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made an appearance Wednesday morning at Hardin Memorial Hospital in Elizabethtown to recognize local healthcare workers and tout the CARES Act.
The Baptist Health Hardin visit was the Kentucky Republican’s third public appearance in his home state this week, after visiting the University of Kentucky hospital in Lexington and Norton Brownsboro hospital in Louisville on Tuesday.
Passed by the U.S. Congress with bi-partisan support and signed into law by President Donald Trump March 27, the CARES Act serves as a relief package for Americans amid the economic hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic. The law put into place direct financial relief for Americans, assistance for small businesses, financial support for industries affected by the pandemic and assistance for state, local and tribal governments.
During his remarks, McConnell highlighted the law’s effect on Elizabethtown small businesses and institutions. He said this has included federal funding for local institutions such as Baptist Health Hardin and Elizabethtown Community and Technical College as well as numerous small business loans.
Since the passage of the CARES Act, three additional COVID-19 relief bills have been passed by Congress. Though McConnell expressed enthusiasm towards the CARES Act, he stopped short of promising its level of ambition when considering the passage of a fifth bill.
“We can’t keep doing this indefinitely,” McConnell said Wednesday. “The downside is we’ve now got a national debt the size of our economy for the first time since World War II.”
The Democrat-led House of Representatives recently passed the Heroes Act, a $3 trillion bill that would include a second round of $1,200 stimulus checks (maximum) for Americans, $200 billion in hazard pay for essential workers and additional COVID-19 unemployment, among several other things.
McConnell derided the bill Wednesday, calling it a “grab bag of items all across the board, much of which have nothing to do with this particular pandemic.”
When asked about additional stimulus checks Wednesday, McConnell did not confirm his support or opposition for additional checks as part of a bi-partisan bill.
President Trump signaled his support for additional checks during a recent visit to a Michigan factory, but said details are not currently under discussion.
“The best way out of this is economic growth, not borrowing money and adding to the national debt,” McConnell said Wednesday. “So, I think we need to be cautious and measured.”
McConnell said one major aspect of a bi-partisan bill he would emphasize would be certain legal liability protections for businesses, health care facilities and universities when faced with COVID-19-related suits.
During his remarks, McConnell also emphasized the importance of wearing protective masks in public. When asked how state and federal leaders can promote the importance of protective masks, McConnell insisted those in leadership positions should set a good example by wearing them during public appearances. Both President Trump and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul have appeared at public events without masks in recent weeks.
“I think we should try to be a good example,” McConnell said.
McConnell was joined Wednesday by Hardin County Judge-Executive Harry Berry, Baptist Health Hardin President and CEO Dennis Johnson and Baptist Health CEO Gerard Colman. McConnell also used his appearance to honor Baptist Health Hardin Drs. Aaron Mulhall and Daniel Curran for their front-line efforts amid COVID-19, both of whom were in attendance.