/  Ranking Member Cole Opening Remarks at H.R. 6800 Hearing

Ranking Member Cole Opening Remarks at H.R. 6800 Hearing

As prepared for delivery during today's hearing:
 
Today’s legislative hearing is on H.R. 6800, what the majority is calling the “HEROES Act," but what is better described as an 1,800-page liberal pipe dream. Rather than attempting to work with Republicans to advance bipartisan legislation, the Speaker has called us back here today to consider a bill that will cost three trillion dollars and was assembled with only Democratic input. Indeed, there are very few liberal policy ideas that the majority has not tried to squeeze into this bill. But what’s most egregious is that this bill is simply the Democratic agenda masquerading as a response to the coronavirus pandemic. 
 
It goes without saying, Mr. Chairman, that this bill is going nowhere, and it’s going there fast.  The Senate will not consider this bill, and the president will not sign it into law. Why we are going through this exercise instead of negotiating in a bipartisan manner is beyond my understanding.
 
What’s even more surprising is how quickly the majority wants to move on a bill of this magnitude. Just six weeks ago, Congress passed and the president signed into law the CARES Act, a bill that provided two trillion dollars for coronavirus relief efforts. Just two weeks ago, Congress passed and the president signed a bill that provided an additional five hundred billion dollars in relief. Indeed, much of the money included in those two bills isn’t even out of the colloquial door yet – we still have significant resources in our arsenal that have yet to be tapped. 
 
But not content with having spent two and a half trillion dollars in six weeks, the majority is now asking us to spend another three trillion this week. No matter that the nation hasn’t even absorbed the impact of the CARES Act yet, and no matter that the funds provided previously haven’t all been spent yet.
 
Let me be clear about one thing, Mr. Chairman: Republicans in the House, in the Senate and in the White House stand ready to work hand-in-hand with Democrats to pass another bipartisan coronavirus relief bill if and when we need it. But today, it’s not clear if we even need another bill, much less what should be in it.
 
Perhaps that’s why today’s bill covers a litany of liberal policy priorities regardless of their limited connection to the coronavirus pandemic. Just as we are being asked to vote on a Democratic-only measure to fundamentally change the nature of the institution of the House of Representatives, the majority is asking us to pass a bill to fundamentally change and reshape the nature of our country.
 
Consider just some of the provisions included in this bill. Three trillion dollars in spending, nearly ten thousand dollars for every person in the United States. Complicated and controversial provisions allowing a government bailout of multiemployer pension plans. Forgiving student loan debt. Requiring changes to credit scoring models and preventing any debt collection. Repealing a provision of law requiring the auction of t-band spectrum. Requiring same-day voter registration and nationwide vote by mail. I could go on and on and on with this list, but I think members get the picture: so much of what is in this bill simply has nothing at all to do with this crisis.
 
Mr. Chairman, this simply doesn’t make sense to me. If the majority actually wants to help Americans, there are plenty of bipartisan ways to do so. We should be focusing our efforts on legislation to combat this pandemic, to allow people to get back to work and to restore our economy. But instead, we have been handed an 1,800-page list of three trillion dollars’ worth of Democratic priorities that they would be pursuing regardless of this pandemic. We can do much better than that.
 
Thank you.
 
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Created: May 14, 2020