U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today discussed the Senate’s return to Washington to continue to fight on behalf of the American people. Over the next few weeks, Senate Republicans will be focused on monitoring the implementation of congressional relief measures that are supporting workers, small businesses, and farmers and ranchers. The Senate will also confirm important nominees and convene multiple committee hearings that will help lay the groundwork for future floor action. Senate Republicans are committed to getting our country through this crisis and helping Americans deal with the virus’s impact.
Click here to watch Thune’s speech.
Excerpt of Thune’s remarks below:
“Mr. President, after a few weeks of working remotely to help flatten the coronavirus curve, we’re back in Washington to continue our coronavirus response and address other important issues.
“It’s been an incredibly difficult couple of months for our country – in fact, for most of the world.
“More than one million Americans have contracted the coronavirus, and thousands have died.
“Our economy has taken a huge hit.
“Millions of Americans are out of work, and businesses are struggling to stay afloat.
“And Americans are worried.
“They’re worried about their own health.
“They’re worried about the health of their families and loved ones.
“And they’re worried about their finances.
“My colleagues and I know that Americans are suffering.
“And our overriding priority over the past two months has been responding to the coronavirus crisis.
“We’ve passed several major response bills and provided substantially more than $2 trillion.
“We’ve funded testing, medical care, personal protective equipment for frontline medical personnel, vaccine and treatment development, paid sick leave, unemployment benefits, direct relief payments to American citizens, forgivable loans for small businesses, and much more.
“Our goal has been to provide a comprehensive response, addressing not just the medical priorities but also the economic impact this virus has had on so many American families.
“And there’s more work to be done.
“Right now, a big part of that work is monitoring the implementation of the legislation we’ve already passed.
“We’ve provided a tremendous amount of money, and we need to make sure that it’s getting where it needs to go as quickly as possible, and that it’s being spent in the most effective way.
“Monitoring the implementation of the legislation we’ve already passed is also crucial for informing any future legislation.
“As I said, we’ve provided a tremendous amount of money for coronavirus – equal to almost 50 percent of the entire federal budget for 2020 – and it’s important that any future funding be carefully targeted.
“We need to make sure federal dollars are going only to real coronavirus priorities.
“Our children and grandchildren will be footing the bill for money we’re adding to the national debt.
“It’s essential that we spend wisely.
“In addition to overseeing the implementation of the coronavirus legislation we’ve passed – and gathering data to inform any future bills – we also have a number of coronavirus-related nominations to consider.
“This week, the Senate Banking Committee will be holding a hearing on the nomination of Brian D. Miller to be special inspector general for pandemic recovery at the Treasury Department.
“Inspectors general play a key oversight role in federal departments, helping to root out waste, fraud, and other misuses of taxpayer dollars.
“If he is confirmed, Mr. Miller will be an essential part of ensuring that the trillions we’ve provided for coronavirus relief are spent properly.
“Committees are doing other essential coronavirus work this week as well.
“The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee is holding a hearing on an initiative Senators Blunt and Alexander worked to get included in coronavirus legislation.
“This initiative is designed to spur innovation and private-sector/public-sector collaboration, with the goal of dramatically increasing our coronavirus testing capabilities.
“The Senate Commerce Committee, of which I am a member, will be holding a hearing this week looking at the impact of COVID-19 on the airline industry.
“And next week, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee will be hearing directly from the leaders of our fight against coronavirus, Doctors Fauci, Redfield, and Hahn, and Admiral Giroir.
“Committee work will play a key role in any future coronavirus bill, and it’s good to have committees able to meet once again here in Washington.
“And of course, while the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to be our priority here in Washington in the coming weeks and months, there is other essential work we have to do for the American people.
“Appropriations bills, nominations to essential administration posts, and critical national security legislation are just some of the other items on our agenda over the next couple of months.
“This week, the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Intelligence Committee are holding hearings on nominees for key national security positions, including director of national intelligence and secretary of the Navy.
“Mr. President, Senate Republicans are committed to getting our country through this crisis and helping American workers and businesses deal with the virus’s impact.
“We’ll be discussing a lot of ideas over the next couple of weeks, from tax and regulatory relief, to support for farmers and ranchers, to ways to spur job creation and shield responsible businesses from frivolous litigation once the economy is open again.
“And, as I said, we’ll continue to focus on making sure that the money we’ve provided gets where it is needed as fast as possible.
“The United States undoubtedly has more tough days ahead.
“But we are going to get through them.
“And we are going to come out stronger on the other side.”