On Wednesday, the United States Senate passed the single largest economic stimulus bill in American history: the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act.
After the Senate passed it late Wednesday night, the bill, which includes roughly $2 trillion in economic support for businesses and workers, is now set to see a vote in the United States House of Representatives Friday morning. If it’s passed, the bill would then be sent to President Donald Trump’s desk for final approval.
One of the 435 members of the House that will cast a vote on the aid package is none other than Rep. Mark Green, who represents Tennessee’s 7th Congressional District. On Thursday, Green spoke with the Home Page at length about his thoughts on Tennessee’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, as well as his thoughts on the CARES Act.
Questions from the Home Page are paraphrased.
What are you general thoughts on Gov. Bill Lee's handling of the coronavirus pandemic?
I think Gov. Lee is doing a very good job standing up the command team. We took some action on some education issues at the federal level knowing that the state would be asking about that, and then we got some education protections in this act at my request.
So I think the governor's doing a good job, I feel very confident that our team is doing well, I think everybody's delivering. Marsha [Blackburn] and Lamar [Alexander] did a good job in the Senate — they did try to get the whole unemployment issue resolved and didn't, but I appreciated their working really hard late last night. I think the whole Tennessee team is doing a fantastic job.
What are you thoughts on issuing a state-wide “stay at home” order in Tennessee?
The governor has come under a lot of criticism, particularly from physicians on that. I agree with the governor, I think at this point in our curve in Tennessee, the governor has taken the appropriate steps, because we can't have the cure be worse than the disease.
I'm a physician, so 'first, do no harm' is the first statement in the Hippocratic Oath. When you try to treat an illness, you can actually do more harm than good sometimes, so I think the governor's taken a balanced approach and I support him fully.
What are your general thoughts on the CARES Act?
It is filled with ridiculous pork, and very clearly the Democrats have delayed this to jam into that bill $75 million for the Endowment for the Arts, $25 million to the Kennedy Center... I mean, really? But the question for us is we've got small businesses out there that are dying, and this is the engine of our economy. We have got to get it done, and I hate this stuff that's been added on, but the good outweighs the bad.
The bill has a lot of problems, the Democrats have delayed getting help to small businesses, and that's unconscionable, but we've got to get these small businesses some rescue.
Why do you believe the government’s level of response to the coronavirus has been so high when compared to past disease outbreaks?
What you're seeing is the collision of three battles that are being fought, and you're probably also seeing collision of Trump derangement syndrome and this virus.
You've got one battle which is the virus itself. That's an issue of getting the protective equipment out there, getting vaccine research started, getting therapeutics online, getting the social distancing implemented.
The second battle is [that] as you do that distancing and shut businesses down, you've got an economic battle, and we have to make sure that we do the things that are necessary to take care of the economy and small businesses, and protect the workers.
There's a third battle, and that battle is the political battle. That's where the Trump derangement has come in and all these attacks against the president. We're in a situation now where people are trying to one-up the other to show that they care — everybody cares, no one wants anyone to die.
The real people of character are the ones that are saying 'look, I'm not going to consider that, if my political career ends because of how I go with this, I'm going to do what I think is the right thing,' and those are the men and women of character in politics. There are others out there, like [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi, who are using this situation to attack the president, using this situation to take care of her buddies, the unions.