U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today discussed the Senate’s agenda, which includes monitoring COVID relief implementation efforts, convening important committee hearings, and confirming nominees. Republicans stand ready to work in a bipartisan way to develop measures that will continue to support the American people and restart our economy, while Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats seem more focused on partisan legislation that they know has no chance of becoming law.
Click here to watch Thune’s speech.
Excerpt of Thune’s remarks below:
“Mr. President, as we continue our work here in the Senate, COVID-19 continues to be at the top of our agenda.
“We’re monitoring the implementation of the $2.4 trillion in coronavirus funding we’ve provided and talking to experts about what is needed to help our country reopen.
“Our committees, where so much of our key legislative work is done, have held a number of coronavirus hearings over the past two weeks.
“And there are more on the agenda.
“This week, the Committee on Aging will hold a hearing on caring for seniors during the coronavirus crisis.
“The Senate Banking Committee will hold a hearing with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell to discuss implementation of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act – or CARES Act – our largest coronavirus relief bill.
“The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a meeting to consider the nomination of Brian D. Miller to be special inspector general for pandemic recovery at the Treasury Department.
“With just an ounce of cooperation from Democrats, we could confirm this important watchdog yet this week.
“Finally, the Commerce Committee, of which I am a member, will be in executive session to consider legislation and nominations, including two coronavirus bills.
“Of course, while coronavirus remains our top priority, we’re also focused on doing the other business the American people expect us to do, from funding our government to protecting our nation.
“Last week, the Senate voted to reauthorize three expired provisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that provide essential tools to our law enforcement and intelligence communities, as well as a number of reforms to strengthen privacy protections and guard against abuses.
“We’ve also been considering nominations for key administration posts, including director of national intelligence and secretary of the Navy.
“And this week we expect to confirm a nominee to reestablish a quorum at the Federal Election Commission, as well as a number of nominees to fill vacancies on federal district courts.
“So, Mr. President, that’s what the Senate has been doing.
“What has the House been up to?
“Well, until last Friday, the answer was “Not much.”
“But on Friday, the House brought its members back to Washington to vote on a massive $3 trillion piece of legislation that Democrat leaders billed as coronavirus relief.
“In reality, as one House Democrat pointed out, the legislation is nothing more than a messaging bill.
“Under the guise of coronavirus relief, House leaders put together a massive package of liberal priorities that they well knew would be dead on arrival here in the Senate.
“How unserious is their bill?
“Well, Mr. President, Democrats’ legislation mentions the word “cannabis” more often than the word “job.”
“Let me just repeat that, Mr. President.
“House Democrats’ legislation mentions the word “cannabis” more often than the word “job.”
“Mr. President, in case Democrats didn’t realize, Americans aren’t suffering from a lack of cannabis right now.
“They’re suffering from a lack of employment.
“Let me mention some other highlights of Democrats’ legislation:
“A tax cut for millionaires and billionaires.
“Stimulus checks for illegal immigrants and deadbeat dads.
“‘Environmental justice grants’ to study pollution.
“Significant changes to election law.
“A ban on sharing information about lower-cost health insurance options.
“Unfortunately, while Democrats were focused on federalizing election law and requiring studies on diversity in the cannabis industry, they forgot about a few basics.
“And so their bill does NOT include any meaningful plan to get Americans back to work.
“It provides hardly any relief or support for small businesses.
“It doesn’t touch the issue of liability reform, even though preventing frivolous coronavirus lawsuits will be key to getting our economy going again.
“And it doesn’t do anything to hold China accountable.
“Democrats’ bill is a fundamentally unserious bill at an incredibly serious time.
“Democrat leaders knew from the beginning that there was no chance of this legislation getting through the Senate or being signed by the president.
“In fact, Democrats had some work to do to persuade members of their own caucus to vote for the bill.
“Or as Politico put it, “As of late Thursday evening, the House Democratic leadership was engaged in what a few senior aides and lawmakers described as the most difficult arm-twisting of the entire Congress: convincing their rank and file to vote for a $3 trillion stimulus bill that will never become law.”
“Unfortunately, Democrat leaders were successful in their arm-twisting, and the bill did pass the House, albeit with a few Democrat defections.
“Mr. President, I’ve talked about the liberal wishlist in this bill.
“But I haven’t mentioned the other aspect of this proposal: the enormous price tag – a portion of which, of course, wouldn’t even go to anything coronavirus-related.
“My friends across the aisle think all problems can be solved with more money or a new government program.
“But they can’t.
“And spending too much money can actually hurt rather than help Americans.
“Mr. President, so far we’ve spent $2.4 trillion to fight the coronavirus.
“That’s a tremendous amount of money, but these are extraordinary circumstances, and they called for an extraordinary response.
“And we may very well have to spend more before this pandemic is over.
“And if we need to, we will.
“But, Mr. President, we have an absolute obligation to make sure we’re spending only what is needed.
“Every dollar we’ve spent so far on this pandemic is borrowed money.
“Now it’s money we needed to borrow, and we were glad to do it.
“But we do need to remember that it is borrowed money.
“And that younger workers and our children and grandchildren are going to be paying for it.
“And we have an obligation to them to only borrow what is absolutely necessary to fight this virus.
“Diversity studies for the cannabis industry should not be making the cut.
“Mr. President, some of Democrats’ proposals might be acceptable at another time – and I emphasize the word “some.”
“But no matter how worthy a proposal, there is a limit to what we can responsibly spend, and we have to prioritize measures that will directly fight the virus and get Americans back to work.
“Republicans are also focused on developing measures that will help fight the virus and get our economy going again without spending trillions of dollars – something I might recommend to my Democrat colleagues.
“We’re currently working on a package of liability protections.
“Personal injury lawyers are already filing coronavirus-related cases, and we need to ensure that frivolous lawsuits don’t hamstring our economic recovery – while ensuring that real cases of gross negligence and misconduct are punished.
“We’re considering a lot of other measures to provide relief while driving up the national debt as little as possible.
“Things like regulatory reform and tax protection for health care workers who crossed state lines to provide their services.
“I’m pushing for approval of my Mobile Workforce State Income Tax Simplification Act, which I introduced last year along with Senator Sherrod Brown.
“Our legislation would create an across-the-board tax standard for mobile employees who spend a short period of time working across state lines.
“It would ensure that states receive fair tax payments while substantially simplifying tax requirements for employees and employers.
“This legislation has particular relevance in the age of coronavirus, with doctors and nurses crossing state lines to voluntarily work in states hit hard by the pandemic.
“The governor of New York is looking to cash in on the pandemic and has already threatened to subject these medical professionals to New York’s income tax.
“We need to make sure that doctors and nurses who traveled to other states to help fight the coronavirus aren’t rewarded with big tax bills.
“Mr. President, partisan messaging bills like the one House Democrats passed last week are a waste of Democrats’ time, but more importantly, they do nothing to serve the American people.
“How many hours did Democrats spend on their massive liberal wishlist – hours that could have been spent working with Republicans to come up with real relief measures?
“But that’s pretty much par for the course for Democrats these days.
“They’re intent on remaking America according to their ever-more-extreme leftist agenda.
“And they’re certainly not going to let a national crisis get in the way.
“In fact, more than one leader of the Democrat Party has spoken with pleasure of the opportunity the pandemic presents to remake America in their far-left image.
“It’s deeply disappointing that Democrats are more focused on their pet projects than on addressing this pandemic and its consequences.
“But that will not stop the Republican-led Senate from moving forward with the business of the American people.
“I hope Democrats will eventually decide to join us.”