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Thune: Senate Republicans Committed to Helping Americans Through This Health Crisis

“I like to think that at least some Democrats are more interested in actually helping Americans than in far-left messaging bills.”

June 9, 2020

Washington — 

U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today discussed the far-left push to defund police departments across the United States. Thune also discussed Democrats’ continued legislative partisanship, even during a national crisis, and expressed his desire to work with Senate Democrats to provide relief to the American people who are suffering during this health crisis.

Click here or on the picture above to watch Thune’s speech.

Excerpt of Thune’s remarks below:

“Mr. President, before I begin, I would just like to briefly comment on the outlandish idea of dismantling police departments that has seen substantial coverage in recent days. 

“While there are exceptions, the vast majority of our nation’s police officers are men and women of character who care deeply about protecting everyone in their communities.

“And they provide an essential service – a service we cannot do without.

“The idea that any city can exist without a police force is so absurd that it’s difficult to believe anyone is seriously discussing it.

“We absolutely need to look at policies at the local, state, and federal levels to ensure that we are holding police officers to the highest standards.

“And I hope we’ll be having serious, bipartisan discussions on these issues in the coming weeks.

“I know at least one Senate Republican has already introduced legislation to require law enforcement agencies to report the use of lethal force.

“But bipartisan discussions will not be forwarded by extreme and irresponsible proposals like abolishing the police departments that help protect our communities.

“And I hope that such proposals will not gain any traction in the Senate.

“Mr. President, we’re hard at work here in the Senate.

“Our main business on the floor this week will be the Great American Outdoors Act, legislation that will help address the significant maintenance backlog at our national parks, among other things.

“Out of the limelight, senators will also be discussing how best to respond at the federal level to the tragedy of George Floyd’s killing.

“And responding to coronavirus continues to be at the top of our agenda.

“Right now, we’re focused on monitoring the implementation of the $2.4 trillion Congress has provided so that we can identify what more we need to do to fight this virus.

“Our committees play a leading role in this, and they’ve kept up a steady stream of hearings examining implementation and identifying next steps.

“This week, we have no fewer than EIGHT committee hearings on various aspects of the COVID crisis, including unemployment insurance, reopening schools, and the federal government’s procurement and distribution strategies.

“Now, Mr. President, the Democrat leader has spent a lot of time on the floor lately complaining about what’s happening in the Senate.

“He’s apparently not happy that we’re in session, and he claims we’re not doing anything on the coronavirus.

“On the first point, Mr. President, well, I’d just say that the majority leader brought the Senate back into session because we have responsibilities we need to fulfill. 

“First, of course, there’s the work of responding to the coronavirus.

“But there’s also other work we have to do that doesn’t stop just because there’s a pandemic.

“Funding our government, protecting our nation, making sure important positions in the government are filled … we can’t just skip those things because of the coronavirus.

“And Democrats made it virtually impossible to do our jobs by unanimous consent while the Senate was out of session.

“When the Paycheck Protection Program ran out of money, it took way too long to convince Democrats to do something as simple as appropriate more funding for pandemic-stricken small businesses.

“As for the Democrat leader’s charge that the Senate hasn’t been doing anything on coronavirus … well, Mr. President, that is simply ridiculous.

“Coronavirus has been at the forefront of Senate activity since we returned in May.

“Our committees have held a constant stream of hearings examining implementation of the coronavirus assistance we’ve already passed and looking toward what will be needed in the future.

“Last week, we confirmed the nomination of Brian D. Miller to be special inspector general for pandemic recovery at the Treasury Department – a key position with responsibility for ensuring that coronavirus funding is spent properly.

“We also passed legislation to update the Paycheck Protection Program to give additional flexibility to small businesses.

“Clearly the Senate has been making coronavirus a priority.

“I suspect that when the Democrat leader complains that the Senate hasn’t been doing anything on coronavirus, what he actually means is that the Senate hasn’t passed another $2 trillion bill.

“And that’s true, we haven’t.

“Because we don’t believe we should be playing fast and loose with the American people’s money like that.

“Congress has already provided $2.4 trillion in funding to respond to the virus – a staggering amount of money equal to roughly half of the 2020 federal budget.

“That was money we needed to spend, and we were glad to do it.

“And we will probably have to spend more before this crisis is over.

“But we have to make sure we’re only appropriating what is really needed, and not mindlessly throwing around trillions of dollars.

“And the way we do that is by monitoring the implementation of the funding we’ve already delivered – which is exactly what we’ve been doing.

“We still haven’t spent all of the $2.4 trillion we’ve provided.

“We need to see where that money goes before we decide what else we need to appropriate.

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – every dollar we’ve provided to fight the coronavirus is borrowed money – a significant addition to an already massive national debt.

“Democrats might like to pretend we can continue borrowing more and more money forever, but the truth is, we can’t.

“The greater our national debt, the greater the threat it represents to the health of our economy – not to mention the future of today’s younger workers.

“And so while we may need to borrow more money to meet our needs before this crisis is over, it’s crucial that we keep that borrowing as low as possible and only spend what is absolutely necessary.

“Mr. President, so far Democrats’ major proposal for the next phase of our coronavirus response is a $3 trillion bill that mentions the word “cannabis” more often than it mentions the word “job” – which tells you all you need to know about how seriously Democrats are taking this.

“If Democrats really wanted to move additional relief forward, they’d be sitting down with Republicans to develop reasonable legislation that actually has a chance of passing Congress and being signed by the president.

“But they’re not.

“Instead, they’re proposing outlandish far-left messaging bills and engaging in the kind of partisanship that has become their modus operandi during this administration.

“And while I’m talking about Democrats’ unhelpfulness, I just want to mention the Democrat leader’s offensive suggestion on the floor last week that the judges we are confirming in this Senate will not protect civil rights.

“This is unfortunately right in line with Democrats’ general attitude that the only legitimate judges are Democrat judges, but it is nevertheless particularly irresponsible to be fanning the flames of division in this country right now by suggesting – untruthfully – that only Democrats’ preferred judicial candidates will show a commitment to upholding civil rights.

“Mr. President, Democrats’ continued partisanship, even during a national crisis, has been pretty disheartening.

“But I’m a hopeful guy, and I like to think that at least some Democrats are more interested in actually helping Americans than in far-left messaging bills.

“And I’d invite those Democrats to work with us.

“There’s a lot more we need to do before the pandemic is over.

“And Republicans are committed to getting our country through this crisis and helping Americans thrive on the other side.”