U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) discussed today’s vote on COVID-19 relief legislation that prioritizes federal assistance to help hard-hit small businesses, safely get students back to school, and support frontline workers who are fighting the coronavirus. Thune noted that Democrats’ desire for political gain appears greater than their desire to provide urgently needed relief to the American people.
Excerpts of Thune’s remarks below:
“Mr. President, once again this week, Republicans are bringing forward a proposal to provide additional coronavirus relief – to help protect jobs, to get kids and teachers back in the classroom safely, and to provide funding for the treatments and vaccines we need to defeat this virus.
“And once again, Democrats are objecting.
“It’s the same old song – Republicans’ bill doesn’t spend enough.
“Let’s talk about that for a minute, Mr. President.
“First of all, Republicans are not claiming that the bill we put on the floor this week contains the last dollars we’ll need to spend in response to the coronavirus.
“We may need to spend more.
“This bill is simply an attempt to direct relief funds to some of the biggest priorities right now – like helping the hardest-hit small businesses weather this crisis and providing more resources for testing, treatment, and vaccines.
“These are areas we should all agree on.
“Second of all, Democrats’ coronavirus proposal – the $3 trillion bill they proposed – is both unrealistic and irresponsible.
“Our nation is deeply, deeply in debt right now.
“Next year, our country will owe more than we produce for the first time since the end of World War II.
“That is a very bad place to be.
“Now, in times of crisis, sometimes you do have to borrow money.
“And that’s what we had to do earlier this year, with the CARES Act and other coronavirus relief legislation.
“But we have an absolute responsibility to every American, to every hardworking individual in this country, to ensure that we are only borrowing what is absolutely necessary.
“And Democrats’ proposal doesn’t even come close to meeting the definition of necessary spending.
“Of course, despite the unseriousness of Democrats’ proposal, Republicans have been willing to compromise on a coronavirus bill from the beginning.
“We understand how negotiation works, and we knew that we would have to give some ground, and that Democrats would have to give some ground.
“And we were – and are – willing to do that.
“But from the beginning, Democrats have rejected serious negotiation.
“The only way to get a bill through the Senate and to the president’s desk is to develop a compromise bill.
“Even if the majority leader put Democrats’ exact bill on the floor today, there is no way it would make it through the Senate, much less be signed by the president.
“So if Democrats really want a bill, they’re going to have to compromise.
“And that is something they continue to refuse to do.
“Which leads to the logical conclusion that Democrats don’t want a bill at all.
“If Democrats really wanted to get relief to Americans, they would work with Republicans to pass a compromise bill.
“Even if it didn’t contain all the money Democrats want.
“Because even if it were true that Republican legislation is inadequate, some money is better than no money.
“If you can’t get someone in need all the money you think they should have, you get them what money you can.
“If Democrats really thought it was of overwhelming importance that we deliver relief to Americans right now, they would be working with Republicans to get as much relief as they could through Congress.
“But for Democrats, delivering relief to Americans is not really of overwhelming importance.
“What is of overwhelming importance to Democrats is keeping coronavirus alive as a political issue.
“And if that means no bill, well, Democrats are okay with that.
“They’d rather have no bill and a political weapon than have a bill and allow Republicans to say that we helped Americans.
“And so all indications are that they plan to filibuster this bill.
“Mr. President, there’s not a lot Republicans can do if Democrats intend to keep prioritizing perceived political advantage over doing their jobs as legislators.
“But we’re going to take this vote on coronavirus relief this week, and we’re going to keep offering opportunities for Democrats to work with Republicans to help the American people.
“And maybe some of the Democrat rank-and-file will decide that they’ve had enough of their leaders playing politics and will resolve to work with Republicans to get things done.
“Republicans are ready to negotiate.
“We just need Democrats to come to the table.”