March 20, 2020
WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) spoke on the Senate floor today March 20 in advance of voting for the passage of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
“I think of people like Joe Kenney, who opened Cobblehead’s Bar and Grill in Brownsville, Texas . . . Joe says, ‘shutting down two, three, four weeks, you can leave 25 years on the table with what we put into this place.’ Joe, to his credit, is especially worried about his more than 30 employees and what will happen to them. This is a familiar story for countless small businesses who are losing customers through no fault of their own.
Hourly workers, particular those who rely on tips, are seeing fewer and fewer opportunities to collect a paycheck. Erin [Willis, owner of RM 12:20 Bistro in northeast Dallas] is rotating employees as everyone can have some work, but the fears about how long this could last are really settling in.
Officials from the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center said this has put their community blood supply at the risk of collapse . . . Hospitals and donation centers are taking every precaution to protect donors while fulfilling their need for blood donations. And I would encourage all Texans who are healthy and at low risk of contracting the coronavirus to consider donating blood.
I know this is a time of serious uncertainty for both the physical and financial health of our country, but I want to assure my constituents, the 29 million people that I’m privileged to represent in the State of Texas, that the Senate is working to provide all the relief we can.
It creates a new federal emergency paid sick leave program for those impacted by the coronavirus, whether a worker is diagnosed with the virus or caring for a dependent who is affected, they’ll be able to take up to 10 days of paid sick leave. Many Texas workers will have up to 12 weeks of paid leave for care for dependents because of coronavirus-related school closures. This legislation will make important changes to unemployment insurance to ensure that Texans can take advantage of these benefits during this time of uncertainty. It also provides food security for all ages, from schoolchildren who rely on free lunches at school, to seniors who are unable to leave their homes.
This bill also makes coronavirus testing free of charge for all Americans and includes a range of measures to support the health care professionals who are literally on the front line of this fight.
I want to echo the comment made by the Majority Leader that this is only the beginning of our efforts to support our country. We’ll keep working this week and next and for however long it takes to assist American workers and families, to support our local businesses, and secure both the immediate and long-term viability of our economy.
We owe a debt of gratitude to the dedicated health care professionals who are on the front lines of this pandemic and to the scientists who are working diligently to develop a vaccine, the first responders who continue to expose their own health for our safety, to the farmers and ranchers and producers who are keeping us fed, to the grocery store employees who are restocking shelves, and to the countless others who are leaving their homes and their families each morning to keep us safe and healthy.
While these men and women continue doing everything they can in response to the spread of the coronavirus, the Senate will do the same.”
U.S. Senator John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, is a member of the Senate Finance, Intelligence, and Judiciary Committees.