U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today discussed Democrats’ unwillingness to negotiate in good faith on a new COVID relief bill. For months, Republicans have been willing to compromise in an effort to find common ground on much-needed relief, but Democrats have made it abundantly clear that they would rather have a political issue than find a real solution.
Thune also discussed last week’s successful Judiciary Committee hearing and highlighted the qualifications of Supreme Court nominee, Judge Amy Coney Barrett. Thune expressed his support for Judge Barrett, and he thanked her for her willingness to serve and for the experience and knowledge that she will bring to our nation’s highest court.
Thune’s remarks (as prepared for delivery):
“Mr. President, last week, the Judiciary Committee held its hearing on Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination, and it was easy to see why Judge Barrett is held in such respect by her colleagues, students, and peers – and why the American Bar Association gave her its highest rating of ‘well-qualified.’
“We knew long before the hearing that Judge Barrett possesses an extraordinary intelligence and a comprehensive command of the law.
“But over three days of testimony, Americans got to see her qualifications for themselves.
“And they saw why she has been described as ‘a jurist of formidable intellect,’ a ‘brilliant and conscientious lawyer,’ and ‘a staggering academic mind.’
“Even the Democrat ranking member on the committee, the senator from California, couldn’t hide the fact that she was impressed.
“Most importantly, however, Americans saw that Judge Barrett understands the proper role of a judge in our system of government.
“As Judge Barrett made clear, she understands that the job of a judge is to interpret the law, not make the law.
“To call balls and strikes, not rewrite the rules of the game.
“Or as Judge Barrett said to the Democrat whip at the hearing last week, ‘I apply the law, I follow the law, you make the policy.’
“Judge Barrett has made it clear that when cases come before her on the Supreme Court, she will consider the facts, the law, and the Constitution – and nothing else.
“Not her personal beliefs.
“Not her political opinions.
“Just the law and the Constitution.
“That’s the kind of justice all of us – Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative – should want.
“Mr. President, I could spend hours highlighting all the extraordinary tributes to Judge Barrett that have poured in since her nomination – from lawyers and scholars of every background and political persuasion.
“But I don’t want to tie up the Senate floor.
“So I’ll just mention one piece of testimony that struck me in particular.
“As I mentioned, the American Bar Association released its rating of Judge Barrett last week – a rating that the Democrat leader has called the ‘gold standard’ by which judicial candidates are judged.
“The ABA gave her its highest possible rating – ‘well-qualified.’
“And the chairman of the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary – the ABA committee that issues these ratings – testified before the Judiciary Committee during Judge Barrett’s hearing.
“I’d like to read from the testimony he submitted to the committee -- and I quote:
“'Lawyers and judges uniformly praised the nominee’s integrity. Most remarkably, in interviews with individuals in the legal profession and community who know Judge Barrett, whether for a few years or decades, not one person uttered a negative word about her character. Accordingly, the Standing Committee was not required to consider any negative criticisms of Judge Barrett.’
“His testimony went on:
“‘All of the experienced, dedicated, and knowledgeable sitting judges, legal scholars, and lawyers who have worked with or against Judge Barrett had high praise for her intellect and ability to communicate clearly and effectively. … Given the breadth, diversity, and strength of the positive feedback we received from judges and lawyers of all political persuasions and from so many parts of the profession, the Standing Committee would have been hard-pressed to come to any conclusion other than that Judge Barrett’s has demonstrated professional competence that is exceptional.’
“Mr. President, we are fortunate to have a nominee like Judge Barrett.
“And I look forward to confirming her to the Supreme Court in the very near future.
“Mr. President, in addition to considering Judge Barrett’s nomination this week, the Senate will once again be taking up coronavirus relief legislation.
“We tried this in September, of course, but Senate Democrats filibustered our relief bill.
“But we’re going to try again.
“Because we believe there are priorities that need to be met – priorities that everyone should be able to agree on.
“Things like helping the hardest-hit small businesses.
“Getting schools the resources they need to safely reopen and safely operate.
“And providing additional health care resources to fight the virus.
“Democrats, of course, have spent a lot of time talking about how we need to pass additional coronavirus relief.
“But despite being given every opportunity to come forward with a realistic compromise bill, they’ve continued to insist on bloated legislation that would not only spend taxpayer dollars on non-coronavirus-related measures, but would not have a chance of becoming law.
“Mr. President, it’s very difficult for me to understand Democrats’ thinking – if, that is, they really want to get more COVID relief to Americans and don’t just want to use this as a political issue.
“I realize that Democrats would like to pass exactly the bill they want.
“But their liberal wishlist simply wouldn’t make it through Congress.
“Democrats could, however, get something through Congress.
“Republicans have made it clear from the beginning that we’re willing to compromise with Democrats if they will just come to the table with a reasonable offer.
“But Democrats have so far decided that they’d rather see Americans get no relief than compromise with Republicans.
“And that is really difficult to understand – unless, as I said, Democrats aren’t really interested in getting more COVID relief to Americans.
“Democrats’ position makes a lot more sense if they’re just trying to exploit this crisis for political gain.
“But Republicans are going to try again this week.
“The bill we’re bringing up would address some of the nation’s most important coronavirus priorities.
“And I hope that some Democrats will join us to get additional relief to the American people.“The Democrat leadership may be holding coronavirus relief hostage, but rank-and-file Democrats don’t have to.”