Brown Takes To Senate Floor, Blasts Trump Administration Response to COVID-19

Senator Introduced Bill to Require Employers to Expand Paid Sick Days during a Public Health Crisis like Coronavirus; Senate Republicans Blocked Vote from Moving Forward

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WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) took to the Senate floor slamming the Trump administration and senate republicans for their failure to adequately respond to the outbreak of COVID-19.

Sen. Brown introduced legislation that would provide paid sick days immediately to Ohio workers in light of the coronavirus crisis, and in preparation for future public health emergencies. On Monday, Gov. DeWine confirmed the first cases of Coronavirus in Ohio.

This legislation, the Paid Sick Days for Public Health Emergencies and Personal Family Care Act, requires all employers to allow workers to accrue seven days of paid sick days and to provide an additional 14 days available immediately in the event of any public health emergency, including the current coronavirus crisis.

Brown joined senators in sending a letter to Vice President Michael R. Pence on March 6th, urging the White House Coronavirus Task Force to take into account the needs and concerns of frontline workers as it addresses the novel coronavirus public health emergency.

Brown’s remarks, as prepared for delivery can be found below:

President Trump had chance after chance to get ahead of this. He failed. Congress can’t make the same mistakes.

Senators should not leave town until we pass the House package to get help to workers and support our communities.

And President Trump needs to sign it.

We need to do our jobs, and take care of the workers who are going to need help:

  • Paying their mortgages,
  • Paying the rent,
  • Taking care of their kids if schools close or they get sick.

It’s why we need to pass paid sick days NOW, and to shore up Unemployment Insurance funds immediately

Paid sick days are one of the most important things we can do to stop the spread of this virus. People should not have to go to work when they’re sick, period.

The House package does all that.

Senators should not be leaving this building until we get this help to the people we serve.

People in Ohio and around the country are scared, and they’re angry. I’m angry.

Many of us have been sounding the alarm for years, warning President Trump and Leader McConnell they were making us less prepared to handle a crisis like this one.

President Trump tried to gut the CDC and NIH.

He refused to fill key public health positions.

And he got rid of the White House’s entire global health security team…two years ago.

Let me repeat that – for two years, President Trump has left us without the team that’s supposed to manage pandemics.

I sent him a letter at the time – more than 600 days ago – telling him to stop dismantling our public health infrastructure.

Now we’re all paying the price for President Trump’s decisions. We are seeing the real-time consequences of his complete neglect of his job to protect the American people.

We have a global pandemic on our hands.

President Trump needs to stop pretending he can lock out a disease that he’s already allowed to spread, and start making up for all the lost time he’s wasted.

We also need to make sure we don’t end up with a financial crisis on top of a public health crisis.

For some of us, this feels like déjà vu – we have been in moments like this before, where we’ve seen the markets drop, we’re worried about our financial system.

Right now, we have a chance to stop this from spiraling out of control.

We don’t have another 2008 on our hands – yet.

But we have to act now, to make sure we can focus all our efforts on preventing this virus from spreading, and don’t have one crisis stacked on top of another.

We know that job is harder because of all the ways President Trump and Leader McConnell have undone many protections we put in place after the last crisis.

They have hacked away at the Wall Street reform safeguards we established. The president had a chance to get ahead of the virus, and he failed. He had a chance to get ahead of the financial risks, and he failed.

But luckily, he and Leader McConnell haven’t succeeded in getting rid of all of our Wall Street reform protections. They haven’t succeeded in repealing the Affordable Care Act.

Because of that – because of the work we did in 2009 and 2010, with President Obama – we’re in a better position now than we were in 2008.

Now, we need to all come together and rise to this challenge. Corporate American included.

One way we can do that is to suspend bank stock buybacks.

Banks need to be investing in their communities right now, not investing in their CEOs’ stock portfolios.

Right now, JP Morgan is in the middle of an ongoing $30 billion in stock buybacks.

Wells Fargo is in the midst of a $23 billion buyback plan.

That money would be better spent investing in small businesses and medical research and relief for people who need help.

The reason big banks are supposed to have that money is so they can keep lending and keep communities afloat when we have crises like this one.

It’s time for us to all come together – in the Senate, in the White House, in communities across the country, and yes, on Wall Street, to meet this moment.

That means we do not leave this building until we have done everything we need to do:

  • To get this epidemic under control,
  • To get our communities the testing capacity and tools they need to manage this crisis,
  • And to support the workers who are going to get hurt.

Leader McConnell, put the House bill on the floor today.

President Trump, sign it today.

Let’s get help to the people we serve, today.

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