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Smith Opening Statement at Subcommittee Hearing on Restaurants in America During the COVID-19 Pandemic

September 25, 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. –  The top Republican on the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures Adrian Smith (R-NE) delivered the following opening statement at a Subcommittee Hearing on Restaurants in America During the COVID-19 Pandemic.

CLICK HERE to watch the hearing.

Remarks as prepared for delivery:

“Mr. Chairman,

“I’m frustrated.

“I’m frustrated that we are here having another hearing under the auspices of the Select Revenue Subcommittee. The majority of what we will hear from our witnesses today will have almost nothing to do with what is in our subcommittee’s jurisdiction.

“I’m frustrated that, even though we’re holding this as a subcommittee hearing, so many Democrats are waiving in to come here to talk about their political priorities, issues which aren’t in our jurisdiction.

“Given this intense interest, perhaps we could have had a constructive full committee hearing on topics within Ways and Means jurisdiction – discussing tax measures such as the employee retention credit and economic relief payments, and other issues like the impact of enhanced unemployment benefits on workers and employers.

“But I’m most frustrated by the primary reason we are here: the Democratic Leadership seems to prefer organizing these messaging opportunities for your members over coming to the table to have a serious conversation about how to most effectively defeat this disease and reopen our economy. 

“Even as we meet, it appears the Speaker’s primary interest is holding show votes on another partisan package which will accomplish nothing to help hurting Americans, so Democrats can go home and pretend to have done something.

“It’s time to actually start working.

“As I said the last time we met, Republicans have ideas on how to help our workers recover. We are committed to defeating this disease and safely reopening our economy. We know there are many areas where we can have bipartisan agreement.

“We are frustrated, just as I know many of our Democrat colleagues are frustrated, by the willingness of the Speaker to hold hostage assistance we agree should be passed on a bipartisan basis.

“We saw this willingness over the summer when she declined the President’s offer to extend enhanced unemployment benefits and continue negotiating a bipartisan COVID package. We saw it this week when she pulled out of a bipartisan CR agreement, risking a government shutdown, to hold hostage aid to Nebraska’s farmers, ranchers, producers, and hungry families. We see it every time she begins the conversation about COVID aid by demanding a dollar figure rather than sharing actual priorities for resuming a healthy, open United States. 

“We must do better. Essential workers, including those who work in our restaurants, deserve real action. And our witnesses can testify to that.

“I want to thank our witnesses for being here today. Restaurants are vital to our economy. They provide economic opportunity for people of all ages. They provide millions of jobs. My district is number one in the nation in ag production, and in Nebraska we understand that adding value to agriculture is as important or more important than the initial production. You all do immense work adding value to what we grow. Thank you for what you do.

“Restaurants – their cooks, servers, bartenders, and hosts – need assistance, and I hope we can have a constructive conversation about ways we can help within this subcommittee’s jurisdiction, such as assistance with cleaning and safety costs or adjusting the employee retention tax credit.

“We must also keep in mind that restaurants aren’t the only sector of our economy hurting because of restrictions on travel and public gatherings. Hotels, theaters, gyms, and sporting venues are just a few of the other industries impacted. 

“Thank you. I yield back.”

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