Middle Class Health Benefits Tax Repeal Act of 2019

Floor Speech

Date: March 27, 2020
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. NEAL. Mr. Speaker, we have been whisked here this morning in one of the grave challenges of our lifetimes.

Usually, in March, we talk about brackets. Well, the brackets this morning are clear. Those brackets are about the health of the American people and the economic security of the American family.

This is not about corruption. This is not about military conflict. Certainly, it is not about malfeasance.

Our country is weathering an unprecedented public health crisis that demands an unprecedented response from the United States Government. I am really proud of the critical solutions our Ways and Means Committee colleagues and I contributed to this legislation.

This legislation could be called the families' health and economic security stabilization act because that is what we are doing this morning, providing stability.

The healthcare workers on the front lines of this crisis are being pushed to their limits, both financially and physically. They need more masks, tests, ventilators, and beds to combat this virus. This legislation will help them secure these fundamental resources with $100 billion in funding for hospitals and our healthcare system.

As we work to protect the health of all Americans, we are also focused on the health of our economy. Just yesterday morning, we learned that this week's unemployment claims skyrocketed by over 1,000 percent.

As we face this record economic challenge, families need benefits that will allow them to cover essential expenses like food, rent, and medication. From the beginning of this crisis, Ways and Means Democrats have understood that expanding unemployed benefits must be a top priority.

The additional $600 per week in unemployment benefits that we fought for is the least we can do to help those who, through no fault of their own, find themselves without a paycheck. Similarly, the direct infusion of $1,200 in cash for American adults whom we fought for will help families through these challenging times.

We also fought to include provisions to shore up the financial health of small business and other struggling employers. We were adamant about the inclusion of the employee retention credit because we know that the American economy will bounce back from this, and employers who take action to keep their employees on the payroll should be rewarded.

This legislation is the product of two very different sides coming together to protect the health and financial security of all Americans in the face of this crisis.

I thank the many Members on both sides of the aisle, and the Capitol, who have worked to get us to this bill this morning. I also thank my Ways and Means Committee staff who have been working around the clock since this crisis began and have provided the committee and the Congress with unparalleled technical expertise and counsel. They deserve our appreciation.

We are facing this grave enemy in COVID-19. It is dark and uncertain times that we are witnessing today, but that is why we are here. We are here to fight for things that matter to America, to prioritize their health and economic well-being.

We have a responsibility to take this bold action this morning so that our economy will keep going for workers and small business and to give families the peace of mind they can depend upon so that their government can help keep them whole in this crisis.

That is what we did in this bill. There will be a phase four, which will be real stimulus as opposed, I think, to the stabilization effort we make today.

We wish our colleagues and the American people the best at this time. Take care of one another.

But I fully support this legislation being passed in a timely manner. That means this morning.