/  Ranking Member Cole Hearing Remarks on the Senate Amendment to H.R. 1319

Ranking Member Cole Hearing Remarks on the Senate Amendment to H.R. 1319

As delivered during today’s hearing:

We are once again considering a deeply partisan budget reconciliation bill. I said most of what I had to say on this package two weeks ago, and it will come as no surprise to you that I do not believe this package as a whole has been meaningfully improved by its trip to the Senate. Thankfully, the Schumer bridge and the Pelosi rail projects have been removed from this bloated spending bill.

Unfortunately, just as it was two weeks ago, today’s package is still filled with far too many items completely unrelated to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is no exaggeration to say that the majority is using this crisis to pass their progressive policy wish list into law, using a so-called relief package as the vehicle. 

I wish I had better things to say about a package that spends $1.9 trillion, and I wish I could tell the American people that every single dollar will meaningfully improve their lives, but unfortunately neither is the case. Though every member can likely find something they like in this package, it is so laden with unfocused, untargeted and misdirected priorities that the package as a whole is simply untenable. I expect that every single Republican in the House feels the same, just as they did two weeks ago when first called upon to consider this bill.

I would like to remind my friends of what we can accomplish when we work together. Last year, Republicans and Democrats came together five times to deliver bipartisan COVID relief packages to the American people, spending just shy of $4 trillion. Yet one of the very first actions taken by the majority, despite the calls for bipartisanship by President Biden, was to write a bill that went as far to the left as they could go by developing a massive and bloated partisan spending package, failing to allow Republicans any input at all into drafting it, and then claiming that Republicans are being partisan for refusing to fall in line to support it.

I will say this, on its trip over to the Senate, I think it has at least been clearer what the bill really is. And you can measure that by the rhetoric one hears. When Senator Sanders calls it the "most progressive piece of legislation" he has ever voted for, that is going to be understandably a red flag to Republicans. When the president’s press secretary calls it a "progressive bill of historic proportions," that too is not likely to breed bipartisanship. So, I am not critical of my friends for doing this, but let’s call it what it is: It’s a deeply partisan bill that is far to the left. It is not a simple COVID relief bill similar to the five bills we worked together on last year and managed to pass together. 

We can do much better than that, Mr. Chairman. If the majority would only choose to do so, we could continue to work together to deliver real results for the American people. Today’s package will likely pass on the floor and be signed into law, but if the majority continues down their present path of choosing partisanship over people, then we are likely to have disappointing results in bills that frankly cannot be passed by reconciliation. Not every priority can be jammed into this, and I urge them to rethink this course and work with Republicans for the betterment of our nation and its people.

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Created: March 9, 2021