On Senate Floor, Portman Argues House Democrats’ New Coronavirus Proposal Will Not Help Move Economy Forward
WASHINGTON, DC – Today on the Senate floor, U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) discussed how the new COVID-19 response proposal from House Democrats will not help to move the economy forward. Portman believes that Congress should focus on introducing bipartisan legislation that helps get the American economy moving again. He hopes that any additional legislation that Congress puts forward to address the coronavirus pandemic will work to fill the gaps left by the four previous rescue packages while stimulating the economy.
A transcript of his remarks can be found below and a video can be found here.
“This week, the Congress continues to work on a bipartisan basis to try to respond to this coronavirus pandemic. We’ve heard that the House of Representatives under Democrat majority has a new proposal. We have got ideas on our side. We have already passed four pieces of legislation that deal with the coronavirus pandemic. The total spending is about $2.5 trillion that’s already been spent. The Speaker of the House proposed a new piece of legislation this week that I think the House will vote on on Friday that’s another $3 trillion. So it’s actually more than the previous four combined. And the legislation that she is proposing has a lot of items that aren’t directly related to the COVID-19 crisis.
“They are, as some have said, a wish list of priorities and others have said in the media that it’s more of a messaging bill. So we’ll see. Among other things, it says, as an example, that they want to change the current law which says that you’re limited in terms of how much of a federal tax deduction you can take for state and local taxes. That’s called the SALT issue, and they want to repeal that. That cost, by the way, is about $180 billion, something like that. And it would result in about 50 percent of the benefit, the tax benefit, going to the top one percent of taxpayers. So that doesn’t sound like it’s something that’s going to be impactful in terms of the coronavirus pandemic we face. I can think of a lot of better ways to spend that money, including more testing, including ensuring that our small businesses can get back on their feet and ensuring that our health care system is sound and other things. So we are going to continue to work on that.
“My hope is that, as we did with the previous four, we can figure out a way to come together as Republicans, Democrats, House and Senate. Look at what we have already spent, the $2.5 trillion, see how it’s been spent. Understand what some of the gaps might be and address those gaps. But as we are working on this issue, this pandemic is continuing to wreak havoc all over the country. I mean, it’s been devastating. Let’s just face it. We now have 30 million Americans, 30 million of our fellow Americans who have lost their jobs and are looking for unemployment insurance. These are people who lost their jobs through no fault of their own. They lost their jobs because the pandemic infected the economy. And they don’t have a place to work. I know friends of mine, people I have known for a long time who have never been unemployed -- they’re unemployed now for the first time. They are getting unemployment insurance for the first time. They want to go back to work, but they don’t have a job right now. So that’s been devastating to them, to a lot of small businesses.
“I have talked to people who have put their lives into their -- they have poured their lives and their resources in these businesses. A guy tells me, 'I have been doing this for 40 years. I started with just a couple of people. I got to a few more, a few more. Now, boom, my doors are closed.' Think of the movie theaters and the bowling alleys and the small restaurants, the hotels. I mean, anything to do with travel and tourism. These businesses are in tough, tough shape. So is the beauty parlor and the nail salon and the barber shop. So this is testing our resolve, isn’t it, in ways that we had never expected. And I guess that’s part of the point. We never expect it because we weren’t prepared for this kind of pandemic.
“Congress again has tried to help with these four measures we have already passed, and I think they have helped. Particularly with a lot of these small businesses, our health care system has been helped. Trillions of dollars, $2.5 trillion of taxpayer funds, have gone out to try to really be a rescue package to help people weather this storm. Again, I hope the next package can be effective not just in weathering the storm but also in getting the economy moving, so, more stimulus. You know, giving small businesses the tax relief to encourage them to invest more, add more jobs, Maybe some smart spending in terms of infrastructure, things like rural broadband that will create more jobs immediately but also bring us closer to having real access for people in poor areas of our country to be able to do the small business development, to do telehealth, to do telelearning through broadband. So there are some things I think we can do that will actually help to stimulate more economic growth. “