Middle Class Health Benefits Tax Repeal Act of 2019

Floor Speech

Date: March 31, 2020
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. HICE of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, the Federal Government has the responsibility to help individuals and businesses through this crisis because it is the government that shut down the economy--not American workers. Americans and their employers are not responsible for the economic damage being wrought by coronavirus, and I am pleased that the CARES Act will provide an unprecedented amount of immediate relief. However, I have deep concerns about this legislation, and I will be voting in opposition.

First, there has been absolutely no discussion on how we will ultimately pay for the trillions of dollars of new federal spending in this bill. As we incur this massive debt, we should be at least considering how we will one day pay it. The House has failed in its duty to take up consideration of this legislation by regular order. There has been no due diligence to review the language in detail within our committees, no opportunity to hear from expert witnesses regarding its effectiveness, and no option for our Members to address concerns or provide thoughtful solutions through the amendment process. Moreover, language within the bill willfully shirks our oversight authority and responsibility by waiving the open meetings requirement.

Furthermore, I fear this legislation is still just the tip of the iceberg. In a short period of time, we have moved from a few billion in phase one to over a hundred billion in phase two, and we now are considering $2.2 trillion in phase three. There is already talk of a fourth and fifth package to allow Democrats to advance many of their liberal partisan policies that did not make it into this bill during a time when no funding that is not directly related to crisis assistance should be considered. We must also weigh what precedents we are establishing. The CARES Act brings with it a massive expansion of the size and role of the Federal Government outside the scope of what our Founders intended. What we are doing here today is unsustainable and cannot be repeated for subsequent future emergencies that will undoubtedly and unfortunately occur. Maximum freedom exists within a context of limited government, and we have seen on countless occasions that once the Federal Government institutes new programs or spending that it is almost impossible to reverse the trajectory of its new footprint on our lives.

Secondly, while I am supportive of providing Americans a bridge of assistance through the coronavirus, I am concerned that this legislation will cause some to obtain significantly more in unemployment benefits than they would normally earn through their jobs, inadvertently incentivizing unemployment. We must strike a balance between smart health policy and smart economic policy, and that means Americans should be allowed to go back to work as soon as it's safe to do so. Unfortunately, the language in the bill creates a disincentive for many to return to the workforce over the next four months.

Third, it is unacceptable that Democrats have stuffed this bill with funding for agencies and causes completely unrelated to the coronavirus outbreak. Just to name a few, the bill contains within it $1 billion for Amtrak, $37 million to the Forest Service, $25 million for the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, $75 million to the National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities and a combined $10.8 billion for several international development organizations. Many of these are fine institutions that do good work for our Nation, but they have no place in an emergency package aimed at rescuing American families and stimulating our economy during a time of crisis.

President Donald Trump has done an incredible job leading America through this crisis. We are blessed to have his leadership, and while I am unable to support this particular legislation, I look forward to continuing to support him and working with his Administration in combatting the coronavirus.

May God pour out his mercy and grace on our Nation during this time and heal our Land. God bless the great State of Georgia, and God bless America.