U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today expressed his frustration with Democrats’ continued blockade of a targeted and fiscally responsible COVID relief bill that would put money into the hands of small businesses and schools and
provide immediate additional funding for COVID testing and treatment. Democrats filibustered a similar bill in September that also received support from a majority of the Senate and would have prioritized federal assistance to help hard-hit small businesses, safely get students back to school, and support frontline workers who are fighting the coronavirus. Shortly before today’s vote, Thune spoke on the Senate floor, and his remarks (as prepared for delivery) are below.
“Mr. President, for months now, Democrat leaders have held additional COVID relief of any kind hostage.
“Instead of working with Republicans to arrive at a compromise bill that both parties can support and that can make it through both houses of Congress, Democrats have insisted that it’s their way or the highway.
“Either Republicans agree to a bloated, multi-trillion-dollar piece of legislation filled with non-coronavirus-related measures and far-left liberal wishlist items – a bill that could never make it through both houses of Congress – or Americans get no relief.
“Mr. President, it goes without saying that this is not the attitude of a party that really wants to get help to Americans.
“This is the attitude of a party that wants to use this crisis for political purposes.
“Democrats figure they win either way.
“Either they use this crisis to force through a bunch of liberal priorities not related to COVID, or they blame Republicans for the lack of a bill.
“Completely absent from their calculations is any sense of what their intransigence is costing the American people.
“If Democrats had actually been willing to compromise with Republicans to reach consensus legislation, we could have had a new COVID relief bill months ago.
“Americans could be enjoying additional relief right now.
“Republicans have made it clear since the summer that we were willing to compromise with Democrats on a new bill.
“All we asked was that Democrats come to the table with a reasonable proposal that could actually make it through both houses of Congress.
“But Democrats haven’t been interested.
“Oh, sure, Speaker Pelosi has supposedly been working on an agreement with the White House … for months.
“We constantly hear from the speaker that a deal is getting closer … only to discover the next day that a deal isn’t close at all.
“Mr. President, let me tell you something.
“If you are the speaker of the House and you really want to arrive at a compromise, it does not take you three months.
“It probably does not even take you three weeks.
“Mr. President, Democrats have to know very well that there is no way for them to get a bill containing everything they want through both houses of Congress.
“But Democrats could get some of what they want.
“And isn’t something better than nothing?
“Even if Democrats were right about the need for every penny of spending they’re calling for, wouldn’t it be better to get some of that spending passed than to have nothing?
“To Democrats, apparently the answer is no.
“Mr. President, in just a few minutes, the Senate will be voting on Republican coronavirus legislation.
“Our bill would provide more money for the hardest-hit small businesses, more health care resources to fight the virus, and money to help schools reopen and operate safely – priorities that all of us, Democrats and Republicans, should be able to agree on.
“In theory, I’m pretty sure we do agree on them.
“And yet all signs suggest that Democrats will filibuster this coronavirus relief legislation for the second time.
“Even though passing this bill would get more money into the hands of small businesses and schools.
“Even though this bill would provide additional funding for COVID testing and treatment.
“Nevertheless, once again Democrats will choose nothing over something.
“Once again, Democrats will decide that if they can’t get everything they want, it’s better for Americans not to have anything.
“Mr. President, I hope whatever perceived political gains Democrats are getting from their refusal to negotiate are worth denying help to the American people.
“In a few minutes Republicans will cast their votes in favor of COVID relief.
“I invite rank-and-file Democrats to reject their leaders’ obstruction and join us.”