March 23, 2020

Duckworth Statement on Senate GOP’s Attempt to Capitalize on a Global Public Health Crisis at the Expense of Americans


[WASHINGTON, DC] – U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) issued the following statement after reports emerged that Republicans had hidden in the coronavirus stimulus bill a provision that would deny funding to healthcare providers that receive Medicaid, thereby making it harder for vulnerable groups—including people with disabilities, older Americans and survivors of rape and abuse—to access critical services they rely on, like home care assistance or meal delivery programs:

“Right before Mitch McConnell went to the Senate floor to inaccurately blame Democrats for holding up this critical stimulus over what he feels are unrelated issues, Republicans secretly added a poison pill to their proposal that would punish health care providers around the country that provide critical services to people with disabilities, the elderly and even survivors of rape and abuse by denying providers that receive Medicaid funding the same much-needed assistance that other small businesses would receive. This poison pill would mean that seniors could miss out on meal delivery services they need to eat and people with disabilities could be stranded without the home care assistance they need to go about their daily lives.

“Mitch McConnell can say whatever he wants, whether it’s true or not, but the reality will not change. Democrats are fighting for middle-class families, for gig workers, for jobs, for students, for homeowners, for renters and for those desperately in need of care. Meanwhile, Republicans are taking advantage of a global public health crisis to close healthcare centers, to create a Mnuchin-controlled GOP slush fund with virtually no oversight and to ensure CEOs and corporations like Donald Trump’s can continue buying back stocks and giving themselves unjustifiable raises on the backs of American taxpayers. These efforts by Senate Republicans are unconscionable.”

Since the COVID-19 public health crisis began, Senator Duckworth has led with a wide range of actions designed to encourage the Federal Government to better support Americans and help our nation respond to the pandemic, including supporting the Families First Coronavirus Response Act that the President signed into law to push the Trump Administration to refocus its efforts on testing and access to tests. Early on, she was one of the first Senators to urge the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to immediately establish clear diagnostic testing procedures, capabilities and production capacity to better mitigate the spread of COVID-19. She introduced the COVID-19 Health Care Worker Protection Act to help keep frontline healthcare workers safe, cosponsored the Free COVID-19 Testing Act, which would expand free tests to confirm coronavirus infections, and helped introduce the comprehensive COVID-19 RELIEF for Small Businesses Act of 2020 to help support small businesses across the country and give them the resources they need to weather this crisis and she helped introduce legislation that passed both the House and the Senate and was signed into law to make sure student Veterans and their loved ones receiving benefits through the GI Bill continue receiving full benefits as universities move online. Duckworth also joined her colleagues on the PAID Leave Act (Providing Americans Insured Days of Leave Act) to provide additional support to workers and businesses during the coronavirus outbreak and future public health emergencies and helped introduce the Small Business Debt Relief Act of 2020 to ensure every small business with a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan would be relieved of their SBA loan payments.

In addition, Duckworth joined U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) in demanding additional federal resources from the Trump Administration for O’Hare International Airport after hundreds of passengers were forced to wait in close quarters for hours in order to clear medical screenings at customs. Along with Senator Durbin, she sent a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) urging swift approval the State of Illinois’ Section 1135 Medicaid waiver, so the state can expand access to health services and have the flexibility to deliver quality care amid this public health crisis. Duckworth joined a bipartisan group of Senators urging the Trump Administration expand access to telehealth services to rural communities and she pressed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for information on the potential shortage of enzymes needed for CDC coronavirus test kits. The Senator is also seeking information from Secretary of Defense Mark Esper about any proactive steps the Department of Defense is taking to ensure the readiness of National Guard and Reserve units to support local civilian authorities as the pandemic spreads.

Last week, Senator Duckworth called on Donald Trump to take immediate, concrete and decisive action under the Defense Production Act (DPA) to boost production of critical life-saving ventilators and to utilize the DPA to do more to bring back Illinoisans as well as any other Americans who are currently stranded abroad as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. She also called on U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to work together to ensure civilian healthcare workers are well-trained to use military-issued respirator masks and other personal protective equipment that DOD has made available to civilian healthcare providers during COVID-19 pandemic.