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Brady Opening Floor Remarks on Coronavirus Relief Package: “Today’s vote is about saving lives and livelihoods”

March 27, 2020

WASHINGTON — The top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee Kevin Brady (R-TX) delivered the following remarks in support of the CARES Act, the third package aimed at staving off the novel coronavirus.

Remarks as prepared for delivery: 

“Thank you, Madame Speaker.

“We gather this morning in an America battling the Coronavirus on two fronts: medically, and economically.

“Today’s vote is about saving lives and livelihoods, providing the urgent relief needed to keep workers on the job, helping those who have lost theirs, and preserving Main Street businesses so they can ride out this crisis and rebound strongly.

“In twenty short days, our economy has taken a hit like we’ve rarely seen in America’s entire history. 

“Thankfully, due to President Trump and Republicans in Congress, America had the strongest economy in the world heading into this challenge. 

“Still, Congress must act aggressively and act together now to stem the economic damage. 

“Senate Democrats, aided by Speaker Pelosi, recklessly delayed this bill for days and used this crisis to advance a frivolous political agenda. It failed, and the Senate found unanimous, if not perfect, common ground. 

“This bill arms families with economic support – tax rebates of $1,200 per person and $500 per child – to help them ride this out. We also make it easier for Americans to access their savings penalty-free, and let seniors over 72 keep their savings intact. 

“Workers get unprecedented help.

“Unemployment is being expanded – by $250 billion – to make sure the self-employed,  contractor, freelancer, the furloughed, and the Uber driver all have a lifeline to ride this crisis out. We are temporarily increasing the size of unemployment checks and lengthening them if more time is needed to get on your feet. 

“We take unprecedented action to save America’s local businesses and their workers. 

“Main Street businesses face a crushing cash-flow problem. Their customers have disappeared and now face a cascading sequence of layoffs and closures. 

“Through temporary tax relief and lending, this bill injects cash directly into our local businesses, small and large, to stop this cash-flow crisis. We focus on preserving business to preserve jobs, to get them through these next weeks. 

“Businesses can keep their payroll taxes in their bank accounts this year, and quickly turn their mounting losses into tax relief so they have more cash on hand to keep workers and to survive. These two actions alone keep $500 billion in our local economies. 

“For small businesses, we offer fully guaranteed loans through your local banker, with a promise that if you keep your workers on the payroll that portion of the loan will be forgiven. For larger and most distressed businesses we provide loans, too, knowing  your survival is crucial to millions of American workers.

“These loans aren’t bailouts. They are given with oversight and repayment to companies who did nothing wrong – but suffered collateral damage as a result of this virus. 

“Finally, with the new Worker Retention Credit championed by Ways and Means Republicans and Leader Kevin McCarthy, for our local businesses to keep workers on the job. For businesses closed or partially closed due to a government order, who’ve seen their income drop by 50 percent or more: if you pay half of your workers salary, we’ll pay the other half up to $10,000 through this crisis. 

“The sooner we lock down the Coronavirus, the sooner we unlock the economy. To quicken that, we give our hospitals, doctors, nurses, non-profits, and rural health care providers on the front lines over $140 billion in new resources. 

“We give unprecedented flexibility through telehealth. We increase by 20 percent reimbursements for coronavirus treatments, accelerate Medicare funding, and give patients more flexibility to use their health savings accounts.

“While no one will agree with every part of this rescue bill, we face a challenge rarely seen in America’s history. We must act now, or the toll on lives and livelihoods will be far greater. 

“I strongly urge for its passage.

“Thank you, Madame Speaker.”