U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) this week discussed the importance of Republicans and Democrats working together on behalf of the American people. While Democrats obstructed pro-growth tax reform, which has led a growing number of companies to increase wages, offer bonuses, and other benefits for workers across the country, at nearly every step of the way, Thune hopes their decision to reopen the government after voting to shut it down last week is a sign that they are ready to stop obstructing and start working together.
Thune’s remarks (as prepared for delivery)
“Mr. President, I’m glad Democrats decided that they needed to reopen the government.
“The political theater they engaged in over the weekend endangered funding for our military, threatened the future of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and created uncertainty about important government services, from programs for veterans to worker and product safety to public health.
“And for what?
“Democrats were feeling pressure from certain interest groups within their party, and so they decided to use the government funding bill to take a stand on an unrelated illegal immigration issue.
“It didn’t matter that Republicans had already expressed an interest in working on an immigration bill with Democrats or that the deadline for such a bill was not imminent.
“No, Democrats weren’t getting the bill that they – and their interest groups – wanted, when they wanted it, so they decided to jeopardize the operation of the entire government.
“Mr. President, unfortunately obstructing for political reasons has been the Democrats’ modus operandi so far this Congress.
“Democrats were supposedly fervent advocates of extending the Children’s Health Insurance Program, but they chose to obstruct the substantial, six-year extension of CHIP included in the government funding bill because they wanted to make a political point.
“On presidential nominees, they’ve obstructed and obstructed again, even when they planned to eventually support the nominee.
“And of course, I don’t need to remind anyone of Democrats’ refusal to accept Republicans’ offer to work together on tax reform.
“This, of course, despite the fact that Democrats had previously called for tax reform and supported many of the proposals included in the law.
“Mr. President, obviously there are going to be disagreements in politics – sometimes very serious ones.
“And sometimes opposing legislation is absolutely the right thing to do.
“But opposing legislation because you have a serious disagreement with it and opposing legislation for political reasons are two very different things.
“And unfortunately, since their defeat in the 2016 elections, Democrats have spent a lot of time doing the latter.
“And that’s irresponsible.
“It is short-sighted.
“And it is a disservice to their constituents.
“And Democrats are missing the chance to help deliver major benefits for the American people.
“That tax reform legislation Democrats fiercely decried (despite their previous support for many of the included proposals)?
“That legislation, which has been the law of the land for barely a month, is already delivering big benefits for the American people.
“More than 200 companies have announced wage hikes, 401(k) increases, and/or bonuses.
“The nation’s largest private employer, Walmart, announced an increase in its starting wage for hourly employees and bonuses for eligible employees.
“It also announced expanded maternity and parental leave benefits and the creation of a new adoption benefit for employees.
“More than 1 million Walmart employees will benefit from the changes.
“Tech giant Apple announced last week that thanks to tax reform, it will bring home almost $250 billion in cash it has been keeping overseas and invest in the United States.
“It also announced that it will create 20,000 new jobs and provide $2,500 stock bonuses to employees.
“The list goes on.
“Better retirement benefits at Aflac.
“Increased capital investment and bonuses at AT&T.
“Bonuses at PNC.
“Increased investment in infrastructure and facilities at Boeing.
“A hike in starting wages at Capital One.
“New jobs, bonuses, and investment from Fiat Chrysler.
“Bonuses at Southwest, Jet Blue, and American Airlines.
“Better retirement benefits at Visa.
“And on and on.
“Then there are the utility companies seeking approval from their regulators to pass tax savings on to consumers.
“These benefits are going to make a real difference in families’ lives this year – and in some cases, well into the future.
“And the main benefits of tax reform are still to come.
“The IRS has released the new withholding tables for the tax law, and Americans should start seeing the results in February.
“Thanks to lower income tax rates and the near-doubling of the standard deduction, 90 percent of American workers – 90 percent – should see bigger paychecks starting next month.
“On top of that, the doubling of the child tax credit will mean even greater tax relief for hardworking parents.
“And that’s just the beginning.
“One major goal of tax reform was to provide immediate, direct relief to hardworking Americans, and that’s happening right now.
“But our other goal was to create the kind of robust, long-term economic growth that would provide long-term security for American families.
“That’s already starting with the wave of wage increases and bonuses, but there’s a lot more to come.
“As businesses large and small experience the benefits of tax reform, American workers will see increased access to the kinds of jobs, wages, and opportunities that will secure their American dream for the long term.
“Mr. President, I’m proud that we passed tax reform, and I’m very excited about the benefits it’s already delivering for American families and American workers.
“But we have a lot more to accomplish this year, from improving our nation’s infrastructure to strengthening our military to border security.
“I hope yesterday’s vote to end the shutdown is a sign that Democrats are ready to stop obstructing.“We can get a lot more done by working together.”