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Thune: Republicans Focused on Bipartisan Relief Measures While Democrats Aim to Score Political Points

“My friends across the aisle tend to think that government money – and government programs – are the solution to every crisis.”

May 13, 2020

Washington — 

U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today discussed the four bipartisan coronavirus relief bills that are supporting the American people during this difficult time, as well as the partisan $3 trillion bill that was recently proposed by House Democrat leaders. Thune emphasized the long-term effect such spending will have on future generations and the lack of seriousness of the Democrats’ latest proposal.

Click here to watch Thune’s speech.


Excerpt of Thune’s remarks below:

“Mr. President, so far, Congress has passed four coronavirus relief bills that have provided $2.4 trillion to meet the coronavirus crisis.

“Our goal has been to provide a comprehensive response, addressing not just the medical priorities but also the economic impact this virus has had on so many American families.

“We’ve provided funding for coronavirus testing.

“For medical care.

“For personal protective equipment for frontline medical personnel.

“For vaccine and treatment development.

“For veterans.

“For nutrition programs.

“For first responders.

“For unemployment benefits.

“For elementary schools, high schools, and colleges.

“For farmers and ranchers.

“The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (or CARES Act), the third relief bill we passed, provided nearly $350 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program to help small businesses keep employees on their payroll during this crisis.   

“And when the program ran out of money, we provided another $310 billion to ensure that as many small businesses as possible were able to take advantage of this help.

“The CARES Act also appropriated $293 billion for direct payments to American citizens to help them get through this difficult time.

“At this point, Mr. President, government agencies are focused on getting all the aid we’ve passed out the door. 

“Some programs, like the Paycheck Protection Program, have been up and running practically since day one.

“More than 4 million businesses have applied for or already received forgivable loans through the Paycheck Protection Program, enabling millions of workers to keep their jobs. 

“The vast majority of direct payments to American citizens – approximately 130 million so far – have been sent out.

“Other aid is still in the process of getting out the door.

“The Department of Agriculture recently announced that it will use funds appropriated in the CARES Act, plus other money, to issue direct payments to farmers and ranchers affected by this crisis.

“These payments are expected to reach farmers and ranchers in late May or early June.

“Over the course of four coronavirus bills, we’ve provided more than $500 billion to state and local governments.

“That’s equal to roughly 25 percent of the yearly operating budgets of all 50 states combined.  

“That money includes at least $185 billion for unemployment benefits.

“$150 billion for a general relief fund for states, localities, and tribes.

“$45 billion for the Disaster Relief Fund.

“Nearly $26 billion for nutrition programs.

“$13 billion for school districts.

“$4 billion to help the homeless.

“More than $1 billion for first responders.

“And much more.

“On top of that, Congress directed that the Federal Reserve provide an additional $500 billion in loans to help states and municipalities manage cash flow issues during the pandemic.

“A lot of the money we provided has already been sent to states, while some is still in the process of being disbursed.

“Meanwhile, states are in the process of figuring out how to spend the money they’ve received.

“Some they’ve spent, and some they have not.

“Which brings me to an important point.

“My friends across the aisle are pushing for more money, more money, more money.

“Yesterday the House unveiled a $3 trillion coronavirus relief bill.  $3 trillion.

“But Mr. President, we haven’t yet seen the effects of the money we’ve provided already.

“It’s difficult to understand how Democrats can call for an additional $3 trillion – all money borrowed on the backs of younger workers and our children and grandchildren – when they haven’t even seen what existing funds have been used for … or whether they’ve been used at all.

“Nobody is questioning that we may need additional money to address this crisis.

“Republicans have already stepped up and appropriated $2.4 trillion – roughly 50 percent of the federal budget for 2020.

“That’s an extraordinary amount of money, but these are extraordinary circumstances, and they called for an extraordinary response.

“But it’s important to remember that every dollar of what we’ve appropriated for coronavirus is borrowed money.

“And today’s young workers, and our children and grandchildren, are going to be paying for this borrowing.

“We’re putting an incredible burden on younger generations.

“And we have an absolute obligation to make sure that we are only appropriating what is really needed.

“And the way we find out what is really needed is by carefully monitoring the implementation of the $2.4 trillion – $2.4 trillion – we’ve already provided.

“Not by rushing into providing trillions more before we know whether and where they’re needed.

“Once the money we’ve already provided has been fully allocated, we will have a better sense of where we might need to appropriate additional funds and where we’ve spent enough.

“It’s also important to remember that there are other things we can do here in Congress besides borrowing money the younger generation will have to repay.

“Yesterday, the leader came down to the floor to talk about the liability protections Republicans are pursuing for health care workers, businesses, and others on the front line of the response and reopening.

“As the leader noted, hundreds of coronavirus-related lawsuits have already been filed around the country.

“And these lawsuits represent a real threat to our economic recovery.

“Doctors and hospitals, for example, are making extraordinary efforts to protect patients and health care workers, but are still reluctant to resume non-coronavirus-related medical care for fear of being sued if a patient were somehow exposed to the disease in the process of receiving care.

“Businesses are worried that they could be held responsible if one of their employees develops coronavirus – even if the business took every reasonable precaution to discourage infection.

“Now, Mr. President, there is obviously a place for lawsuits when individuals or businesses engage in gross negligence or intentional misconduct.

“We will not be giving a free pass to anyone who fails in their basic duties during this crisis.

“But we do need to make sure that medical professionals and small businesses and others can get back to running their operations and employing Americans without worrying that an army of trial lawyers is about to descend.

“There will undoubtedly be other things we can do to help Americans get back to work and deal with the effects of the coronavirus, without spending trillions of dollars – everything from regulatory reform to ensuring front-line volunteers don’t face surprise tax bills.

“That’s not to say we won’t be providing additional funding – in fact, it’s likely that we will have to appropriate more money for the coronavirus response.

“But as I’ve already said, it is absolutely essential that we consider further investment carefully and only spend money where it is truly needed.

“My friends across the aisle tend to think that government money – and government programs – are the solution to every crisis.

“They’re happy to throw taxpayer dollars around without thought to the consequences for future generations.

“And disturbingly, more than one Democrat has indicated that they’d like to take advantage of this crisis to remake America in their own far-left image.

“That is not a responsible response.

“Mr. President, Republicans are going to continue to do everything we can to help Americans through this crisis.

“We are committed to meeting the country’s needs, while spending taxpayer dollars responsibly and with an eye to the burdens we’re placing on younger workers and future generations of Americans.

“We undoubtedly have more difficult days ahead.

“But our country is strong, and so are the American people.

“And we are going to get through this.”