Middle Class Health Benefits Tax Repeal Act of 2019

Floor Speech

Date: March 31, 2020
Location: Washington, DC


Mrs. WAGNER. Mr. Speaker, I care deeply about the health of our citizens and our economy. We are in the midst of a National Emergency that has taken lives, disrupted the economy, and threatened the health and economic security of our nation. Americans have called on Congress to pass legislation that provides relief, and we cannot let another day go by without answering that call. While this bill is not perfect, and I disagree with a number of specific provisions within, unprecedented crises demand unprecedented solutions, and I am confident the CARES Act as a whole will assist Missourians and Americans around the country in our time of need.

COVID-19 has prevented too many Americans from working to support their families, and could overwhelm our heroic health care workers and other first responders. I have worked day and night with my colleagues in Congress and our state and local officials to find a way to get people back on their feet. Just days ago partisanship threatened to destroy all of that work, abandoning the people who need this assistance most. But I am grateful that Leader McConnell was able to get a historic and unanimous vote in support through the Senate, and that Speaker Pelosi and Senator Schumer finally realized they needed to put politics aside and join us in placing our countrymen and women above petty political fights.

Americans are resilient and, although these are difficult times, I have faith we will emerge stronger as a nation, a people, and an economy. The CARES Act will help Missourians get back to work, keep businesses open, and allow our economy to rebound. This legislation gives financial support directly to families and workers who need it most and provides assistance to struggling small businesses so they can keep their doors open and pay their employees. If you have lost your job, unemployment insurance has been expanded so you can feed your family and keep a roof over your heads during this uncertain time, and this was done in a temporary fashion so we do not disincentivize people from working. Our health care workers and first responders who have worked long hours on the front lines of this crisis will receive vital personal protective equipment and other resources to keep up the fight. This is an extraordinary piece of legislation, but the work doesn't stop here. Congress will keep working to improve upon this legislation, mitigate the effects of this pandemic, and ensure the safety of the American people.

I am disappointed that Democrats insisted on adding many extraneous provisions that are not relevant to the crisis at hand. Millions of dollars for forest research and other items do not belong in urgent coronavirus relief legislation. I am also extremely concerned they insisted on including over $1 billion for Amtrak and $10 billion for the Postal Service. We can have a reasoned debate on these items, but in another forum. The issue at hand is relieving our distressed families and small businesses, not trying to tack on political pet projects when so many people across America need our help. We are in a National Emergency and it is shameful Democrats tried to force through partisan issues, including aggressive union mandates and taxpayer funded abortion. I fought these provisions and am grateful they were ultimately left out of the final bill.