WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) spoke on the Senate floor today calling out congressional Democrats for fast tracking their highly partisan $1.9 trillion “COVID relief bill” through Congress, instead of working in a bipartisan way like Congress has done five previous times. Ernst shed light on the wish list of long-time liberal budget-busting priorities—that have nothing to do with the COVID-19 pandemic—included in the bill, and reiterated that relief should be focused on getting folks back to work and kids back in school.
Click here or on the image above to watch Senator Ernst’s remarks.
Senator Ernst’s full remarks are below:
“With a one party monopoly of Washington, D.C. Democrats are back to their old spending games.
“Most of the 1.9 trillion dollars within the Democrats’ ‘COVID’ package has absolutely nothing to do with COVID.
“Unlike the previous five pandemic relief bills that were approved with overwhelming bipartisan support, Democrats have shown no interest in working with Republicans and are instead fast tracking this highly partisan bill through Congress.
“The bulk of this budget-busting bill is devoted to fulfilling a wish list of long-time liberal priorities, including—billion dollar bailouts, progressive program expansions, and pricey partisan pet projects.
“Let’s talk about a few of those. Look at this right here: a New York bridge to Canada. That’s $1.5 million for a bridge connecting the state of New York to another country: Canada.
“Or what about this one? The cleverly-worded provision that earmarks – yes, I said it folks – earmarking is already happening – $140 million to a subway in Silicon Valley in California. What does that have to do with COVID?
“And a whopping $350 billion blue state bailout that rewards the states that have imposed the strictest lockdowns.
“Folks, we should be rewarding the states that demonstrated leadership by finding ways to safely stay open, not those that shut down schools, closed businesses, and killed jobs.
“But most importantly, COVID relief should stay focused on COVID.
“There is still about $1 trillion of COVID funding that Congress previously approved that hasn’t even been spent yet. Yes folks, $1 trillion.
“So why are we looking at spending yet another $2 trillion, of course, on things that are not even related to COVID?
“That isn’t to say there aren’t still needs across the country, because there are. We know that. All across our country.
“But instead of bridges and bailouts, the money should be focused on immediate help to get our moms and dads back to work. To do that, we need to do a few things: One, lets safely reopen our schools; Number two, expand access to quality, affordable child care; and number three, distribute the vaccine as quickly as possible.
“While the bill does provide assistance for these purposes, even here the Democrats show how out of touch they are with what’s actually happening on the ground.
“For example, nearly $15 billion is included for the Child Care and Development Block Grant.
“At a time when so many moms are being forced to choose between their careers and children as a result of school closures, the support is very much needed.
“But, a loophole in the bill allows millionaires to use up this program which was created to help make quality child care affordable for working parents struggling to make ends meet.
“While the additional funding will certainly help many, expanding eligibility to millionaires who have the financial means to afford their own ‘nannies’ will not.
“While the bill also extends the enhanced unemployment benefit and provides an extra $400 per week for those who are out of work because of the pandemic, there again, another loophole, there is no income limit placed on the eligibility.
“That means someone who may be out of work but is still earning a million dollars or more qualifies for these bonus payments.
“You might laugh and ask, ‘How many people would apply for unemployment assistance if they were making a million dollars?’
“The answer is thousands.
“During the Great Recession just a decade ago, more than 3,000 individuals with adjusted gross incomes of $1 million collected unemployment benefits.
“Because this bill doesn’t cap who may receive support, jobless millionaires may end up collecting as much as $1 million in enhanced unemployment assistance every week.
“This is like a reverse millionaires’ tax.
“The Democrats are paying millionaires to not work, with taxes paid by lower income workers. How do you like that socialist scheme?
“So if you are a coastal elite, living in California or New York and maybe making a million bucks despite being out of work, this bill is especially generous for you.
“But folks: this isn’t Monopoly money! This is the real deal, and someone has to eventually pick up the tab.
“Sadly, it is going to be paid out of the pockets of essential workers and others who are continuing to work, those that pay taxes, and keep America running.
“Now, as an eternal optimist, I am hopeful that when this bill comes before the Senate, my Democrat colleagues will actually work with us to cut the pork and refocus the bill on what it should be focused on: the immediate needs of the COVID pandemic.
“Not a fancy subway. Not a bridge to Canada, and certainly, not wealthy state bailouts. Focus on the immediate needs of the COVID pandemic.
“And if not, I’m afraid the Democrats will just “keep passing go” and collecting hundreds of dollars from hardworking taxpayers across this country, only to pay for their pricey partisan pet projects and wish list items that have nothing to do with COVID-19.”