U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today discussed the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection, and Schools (HEALS) Act, the next coronavirus relief legislation that was introduced by Senate Republicans. Thune expressed his hope that Democrats will put aside their political agenda and work in good faith to find a compromise that will help those Americans who continue to struggle during the ongoing pandemic.
Click here or on the picture above to watch Thune’s speech.
Excerpt of Thune’s remarks below:
“Mr. President, last week, Senate Republicans introduced a new coronavirus relief bill – the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection, and Schools Act.
“Our bill is a $1 trillion piece of legislation focused on getting Americans back to work, getting kids and college students back to school, and providing health care resources to help defeat this virus.
“Of course, when we introduced this bill, we knew our version wouldn’t be the final draft.
“We knew we’d need to negotiate with our Democrat colleagues – just like we did with the CARES Act, our largest coronavirus relief bill, back in March.
“Back in March, committee chairmen and ranking members got together and compromised and worked out differences, and we ended up with a strong, bipartisan bill.
“Was it a perfect bill? No.
“Did everyone get everything he or she wanted? No.
“But it was a strong, bipartisan bill that was praised by Democrats and Republicans alike.
“Mr. President, I’d like to say that we’re engaging in those same types of negotiations right now.
“But I’m not sure you can call what’s happening right now negotiations.
“Negotiations involve both sides being willing to give something up, to compromise, to move toward a solution.
“And while Republicans are willing to make compromises to ensure that we can deliver another coronavirus relief bill to the American people, Democrats apparently aren’t willing to make any.
“Back in May, House Democrats passed a massive $3.4 trillion piece of legislation that they called a coronavirus relief bill.
“In reality, it was a lengthy liberal wish list, which even members of Democrats’ own party dismissed as dead on arrival.
“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 at the time, “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.”
“The House bill includes various “coronavirus priorities” like a soil health study, funding for diversity and inclusion studies in the marijuana industry, tax cuts for blue-state millionaires, and federalizing elections.
“In fact, the House bill mentions the word “cannabis” more often than it mentions the word “job” – which tells you all you need to know about the seriousness of this proposal.
“Despite all this, Mr. President, Democrat leaders have taken the House bill as their starting – and ending – point for negotiation.
“They’re insisting that Republicans sign off on pretty much everything in their bill – from tax cuts for wealthy Americans to major changes to election law.
“And they’re not budging on the price tag either.
“Mr. President, as I said, Republicans have proposed a $1 trillion piece of legislation.
“The price tag for Democrats’ bill is $3.4 trillion.
“Now I think even an elementary school student would realize that compromise lies somewhere between those two numbers – more than Republicans’ bill, and less than Democrats’ bill.
“But apparently that’s not something Democrats are willing to entertain.
“A senior correspondent for CNN talked to Speaker Pelosi yesterday, who claimed she wanted to reach agreement on a bill this week.
“The correspondent asked the speaker what price tag she was willing to agree to.
“In other words, Mr. President, after more than a week of negotiations, the speaker of the House hasn’t budged from her original position.
“She hasn’t budged.
“Mr. President, that is not compromise.
“That is not negotiation.
“And if we emerge from this process without a coronavirus relief bill, the responsibility will rest squarely on the shoulders of the Democrat leadership.
“Let’s suppose for a moment that Republican negotiators agreed to every single thing Democrats are insisting on.
“Tax cuts for millionaires.
“Diversity studies for the marijuana industry.
“A trillion-dollar pot of money for states – who haven’t even come close to spending the coronavirus money the government has already given them.
“Let’s suppose Republican negotiators agreed to everything.
“What would happen then?
“Well, Mr. President, the bill would never pass the Senate.
“In the Senate, you need 60 votes to pass a bill.
“And there simply aren’t 60 votes in the Senate for Democrats’ liberal fantasies.
“Mr. President, it would be lovely if, as Democrats seem to think, the government drew its funding from a magical pot of gold that never runs out.
“But it doesn’t.
“Every dollar of the coronavirus relief we’ve already provided has been borrowed money, which has driven up our national debt.
“Now, it was money we needed to borrow.
“But there has to be a limit.
“The higher we drive our national debt, the greater the danger to the health of our economy.
“Democrats may be fine with jeopardizing our economic health to pay for diversity studies in the marijuana industry, but Republicans are not.
“Republicans know that we are going to have to borrow additional money to meet the demands of the coronavirus crisis.
“And we’ve offered legislation to do just that.
“But we’re not going to further endanger our already battered economy by signing off on every unnecessary spending item on Democrats’ liberal fantasy list.
“Now, are Republicans going to have to agree to some things we’re not crazy about?
“Of course we are.
“But Democrats are going to have to accept that they can’t dictate every word of this bill.
“Mr. President, the ball is in Democrats’ court.
“Republicans want to pass a coronavirus relief bill.
“And we’re ready to negotiate.
“But Democrats are going to have to decide that they want to come to the table.
“‘Our way or the highway’ is not a negotiating position.
“And if Democrats continue to insist on getting everything they want, they are going to be responsible for Congress’ failure to deliver additional relief.
“I hope – I really hope – that the Democrat leadership will remember what it means to negotiate and will work with Republicans to arrive at a compromise bill that can make it through both houses of Congress and actually become law.”