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Caring for Americans with Supplemental Help Act of 2020

Floor Speech

Date: Dec. 28, 2020
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. BRADY. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Madam Speaker, last fall, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Washington Democrats refused to accept a bipartisan COVID relief bill, insisting instead on more than $3 trillion of absurd policies, from marijuana banking to early release of criminals. Months ago, they even rejected a nearly $2 trillion COVID relief proposal by President Trump. Many Americans knew right then that leading Democrats were sabotaging the economy ahead of the election for political gain.

During those crucial months, while Speaker Pelosi stalled COVID relief, thousands of Americans died, tens of thousands of small businesses closed, and hospitals and nursing homes struggled, while millions of Americans were left jobless.

In the election, Democrats and Congress paid a steep price for this cruel inaction, with voters giving House Republicans nearly two-thirds of the seats needed to take back the majority.

I thank President Trump for signing bipartisan legislation, even with its flaws, that included several separate bills that hitched a ride on the annual funding bill for the government, including COVID relief, a first-ever ban on surprise medical bills, and $328 billion in urgent tax relief for families and local businesses.

Madam Speaker, I recognize that today's CASH Act will pass with bipartisan support, Republicans and Democrats alike, and I respect the decision of each Member of Congress. But for me, I worry that this whopping $463 billion won't do what is needed: stimulate the economy or get the jobless back to work.

At this point in the recovery, the fact is, it is hard to stimulate a Main Street that is locked down by local politicians.

This won't help local restaurants get their workers permanently back or hospitality and convention industries rehire their workers for the long term, and it won't help get energy workers back on the job.

Will this stimulate our local economies? Not a lot.

What we know is that much of this extra $1,600 will go to pay down credit card debt or savings or even make new purchases online at Walmart, Best Buy, or Amazon.

So, rather than merely sending checks to credit card companies, this half-trillion dollars could more than double the number of small businesses and midsize businesses getting PPP forgivable loans to hire their workers and stay alive through the recovery. It could make sure airline workers have secure jobs for more than just a few months and do more to replenish frontline healthcare workers.

Madam Speaker, we should be focused on the families that are hurting most, none more than the 8 million Americans who lost their jobs due to COVID. Our top priority, in addition to defeating the virus, is to get them back to work. So far, Congress has already approved more than $20,800 directly to a family of four with one parent out of work. That is on top of their State unemployment benefits.

Madam Speaker, if we want to do even more for the jobless, this same huge amount of money today could give every unemployed worker from COVID and their employer a $50,000 incentive to return to work. With this huge amount of money, you could even give the bottom 90 percent of workers in America an income-tax-free year for 2021, a full year where you go to work each day for yourself rather than for Washington.

Can you imagine what a no-tax 2021 would do for low-and middle-income families, workers, and the local economy?

Or we can simply hold this money back, not hastily spend another half-trillion dollars we don't have, while we assess the impact vaccinations are having on consumer confidence and the unlocking of the economy.

Madam Speaker, there are a lot of ways to spend money, if that is the goal. But in my view, let's be smart about it. Let's target assistance to those who need it most. The Committee on Ways and Means should be the place to explore and analyze these options, not just have a bill that spends over $400 billion hastily dropped on us at the last minute.

I know, working together, Republicans and Democrats, we can do better to help people get back to work and truly help this recovery.

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Mr. BRADY. Madam Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from Oregon (Mr. Schrader).

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Mr. BRADY. Madam Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. Grothman).

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Mr. BRADY. Madam Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from California (Mr. McClintock).

Mr. Speaker, I would point out to my colleague that nothing in this bill helps anyone get back to work: not a dime to the 8 million people who are left unemployed because of COVID, not a dime to help our small and medium-sized businesses, not a dime for Main Street.
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Mr. BRADY. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Madam Speaker, you can say a lot about this Congress, but you cannot say we have not worked together and appropriated remarkable funding to help families defeat this COVID, to get back on their feet, and to save small businesses.

A good example is that, so far, Congress, both parties, has already approved more than $20,800 in direct cash payments to a family of four with one parent out of work. That is on top of an estimated $18,000 of State unemployment benefits, a little less than $40,000 to help working families survive this COVID pandemic.

But, today, we do nothing in this bill to help 8 million Americans who lost their jobs due to COVID. We could double the amount of money that goes to small businesses or midsize businesses so they can rehire the workers and keep them on the payroll to try to survive and ride this out. We don't know yet what the vaccinations will do to consumer confidence or to the lockdowns.

Again, I expect a number of Republicans to support this bill. In my view, we would be wiser to assess the impact of the vaccinations in the recovery going forward so that we can target relief to Main Street, to helping get people back to work, and to truly stimulating our local economy. That is where we address the harm that has been done by COVID.
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Mr. BRADY. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Madam Speaker, first, let me congratulate the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, Mr. Neal, for working so closely together on our bipartisan priorities.

Ending surprise medical bills when you go to the ER or you have a scheduled medical procedure, ensuring, starting at the end of the next year, for the first time, when you go to that doctor's procedure, you will have a true and honest bill in advance of that. It will be so crucial for so many patients.

Madam Speaker, I also thank the chairman for working so closely in a bipartisan way on the COVID tax relief provisions in the first reforms of our temporary tax provisions in 5 years. I applaud Chairman Neal for his work, and I have enjoyed working with him.

The previous speaker talked about essential workers, our firefighters, our healthcare workers, others who have done such an amazing job. We had an opportunity earlier this year to help them. President Trump, in his executive order, proposed a payroll tax holiday for nearly 5 months for these workers. That would have meant, for those essential workers, that firefighter, that hospital worker, that nurse, that a family of four would have kept an extra $5,000 in their paycheck throughout the holidays.

If we really wanted to help essential workers, our Democrat friends would not have blocked that payroll tax holiday and would have adopted our bill to make sure that those payroll taxes were forgiven.

As for State and local governments, they, too--even though I disagree with many of the decisions--deserve our thanks. And, thankfully, because this was the most rapid labor market recovery following a crisis in history and we recovered more than half the jobs we have lost, State and local revenues this year are almost even, down a mere less than 1 percent.

Thank goodness Congress came together in the CARES Act to provide more than $150 billion to those State and local governments to be able to address these needs and continue to function.

I will tell you, too, that--again, I speak only for myself--the best way to help struggling families is to get them back to work. The best way to save our Main Street is to give our small and medium-sized businesses more help than we have. This bill does neither.

I don't believe--I think it is correct when the earlier speaker said this is not a stimulus; it is not. And it does nothing to help get people back to work.

I worry that, as we spend another nearly half a trillion dollars so hastily, we are not targeting this help to the very Americans who are struggling the most and need that help.

I will also point out that, as I said earlier, Congress has come together to provide a family of four with one unemployed parent, now, just a little short of $40,000 of Federal money in their traditional State unemployment because we knew they were struggling. Now is the time to get them back to work. That is my personal objection to this bill.

I urge Congress to pause for a moment to assess the vaccinations over the next few months or year to determine where next we need to weigh in, if at all, on this recovery as we continue to work together to defeat this virus.

Madam Speaker, I am honored to be here today, and I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. BRADY. Madam Speaker, I demand the yeas and nays.

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