Fellow senators and all members of Congress must act quickly in order to get liquidity to small businesses and aid to workers and companies suffering from an abrupt end to consumer activity due to the coronavirus, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio urged Tuesday.
Appearing in an interview on "Fox & Friends" with hosts Steve Doocy, Ainsley Earhardt, and Brian Kilmeade, Rubio admitted that Americans are "not living in ordinary times."
"This is not a bunch of businesses who made a bad decision and now are looking for the government to help them out," he stated. "This is a virus that threatens our economy because, in order to prevent this virus from killing a lot of people, we have to force people or ask people to stay home and not go to businesses. And, the result is, people are going to lose their jobs, businesses are going to close, and we're going to have to do something to buffer that."
As business groups, local and state leaders, and economists have continued to beg the federal government to spend trillions of dollars to pay workers to stay home and funnel money to struggling companies, lawmakers continue working on a new fiscal stimulus package -- one of three different bills -- that could help workers and companies weather the oncoming, albeit invisible, storm. A previous -- and controversial -- package the House passed last week still waits for Senate approval.
Fox News has confirmed that the White House is seeking an $850 billion financial stimulus to address COVID-19 in the form of tax measures. A senior administration official said around $500 billion of that would go to a payroll tax cut, $250 billion would be made up of Small Business Association loans, and $58 billion would go to airlines.
"What the House passed is not perfect," said Rubio, "but I think the price of inaction at this point is way too high."
Rubio said that, in the meantime, whatever was "wrong" with the original bill the Senate would look to fix in their own bill focusing on allowing airlines to continue to operate and getting liquidity into the hands of small businesses.
"We've got a pretty good outline that's bipartisan. Obviously, we need to hear from more of our colleagues, but that's the piece I'm going to focus on. And, we need to move on that very, very fast. We have no time to spare," he warned.
Rubio told the "Friends" hosts that the outbreak will "fundamentally change the structure of the world political order and economic order for a generation, making any partisan bickering "trivial" at this point.
"Now is the time to act to keep this from being worse than it needs to be," he concluded. "And, we can't do that if we spend all our time taking political shots or arguing over ideological purity."