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Unanimous Consent Request--H.R. 9051

Floor Speech

Date: Jan. 1, 2021
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. THUNE. I know that has always been something that has been on my bucket list--maybe not on top of the bucket list. But, nevertheless, thank you for that opportunity. It does feel like a long time ago, but it was, actually, only--if you can believe this--the beginning of last week when both sides of the aisle and both sides of the Capitol came together to pass a targeted, responsible, and necessary relief package, which became law with overwhelming bipartisan support. It passed here in the Senate 92 to 6. Members on both sides of the aisle, myself included, have demonstrated that we are willing to dedicate resources to those who are struggling during this pandemic.

The problem with what is being put forward--the House-passed CASH Act--is that it is not targeted to help those who are the most in need. I will just point out that it is not just our saying that; even the Washington Post editorial board called it ``one last bad idea'' for 2020. It singled out as ``especially wrongheaded'' the efforts of the progressive left to depict this ``as aid to `desperate' Americans despite the huge amounts''--this is the Washington Post's term-- ``destined for perfectly comfortable families.''

As others here on the floor have noted, the bill would provide a payment to a family of five making up to $350,000. A family of five making $250,000 would receive a $5,000 benefit. Just to put that in perspective, that is more than was paid to a middle-class family of five under the CARES Act that we passed back in March. In addition, the bill would add an additional $463 billion--nearly half a trillion dollars--to the annual debt.

Again, it is all money we have to borrow. All of this is money we have to borrow, and that is more than the first two economic impact payments combined. Put that in perspective, and think of other ways you could use that amount of money. The truth is that those types of sums could potentially be spent in many more targeted ways, but our colleagues on the Democratic side don't even want to debate some of those alternatives.

Allowing small businesses a second draw from the Paycheck Protection Program would cost, approximately, $285 billion. For the cost of the CASH Act, we could do another round of assistance to help small businesses keep their employees on the payrolls and still have almost $200 billion left over. The expanded unemployment benefits--signed into law last week--will cost approximately $120 billion for 11 additional weeks. That means, for the same cost as this proposal, we could provide an additional 40 weeks--10 months--of enhanced unemployment insurance benefits to those who have lost their jobs.

This is simply not targeted relief for the people who need it the most, and those who say that we should just vote on this flawed House bill conveniently leave out the fact that they do not want us to amend it to make it better in order to deliver more assistance to the people who are hurting the most.

Again, I will just point out one last time that it has been less than a week, really, since the Senate voted and the President signed into law a proposal negotiated, literally, over months. Every fine point of that proposal was negotiated, and it was signed into law to provide targeted, fiscally responsible assistance to the people of this country who need it the most. This proposal is a shotgun approach, where a rifle makes a lot more sense.

If you really want to help people who need this the most, at a time when we are running a $26 trillion debt and are borrowing every penny that we are making available to do this, we ought to sit down and figure out how to do it in the most efficient, effective, targeted way possible. This, absolutely, does not do that. When you have a family who is making $350,000 a year in this country getting up to thousands of dollars of payments and a family making $250,000 a year in this country getting, under this proposal, a $5,000 check, I would argue that it is not targeted, that it is not fiscally responsible, that it is not efficient, and that it is not an effective way to spend the American taxpayers' dollars.

Let's help the people who need it the most. We just passed and signed into law a proposal that does that.