WASHINGTON–The top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee Kevin Brady (R-TX) delivered the following opening remarks at the Committee organizational meeting for the 117th Congress.
Remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Thank you, Chairman Neal, for calling this meeting today.
“While the organizing meeting may seem to be just another administrative task we do, it’s truly an important event. It’s the first chance for us to meet officially and to have the chair gavel in the Committee for the new Congress.
“This meeting of course looks different this year. And I know for our new members joining the dais this year, not being able to feel the history and reverence of this room as a member can be frustrating.
“My hope and prayer is that we will defeat this virus so that we can again reopen these doors.
“But the People’s Business must continue. The work that our Committee is tasked to do is too important to delay.
“And given that our Committee’s jurisdiction touches nearly every corner of our economy, it is important we work together—where we can, and as often as we can—to deliver bipartisan victories for American families and small businesses.
“In this last Congress, the Committee’s track record of bipartisan success was laudable. And Chairman Neal, I commend your leadership during a period of years that presented challenges no one saw coming.
“Together, we modernized our North American trading relationship for the first time in decades. With the help of the late John Lewis, we reformed the IRS for the first time in over twenty years, and turned it into an agency focused solely on taxpayer service.
“We got signed into law the first ever ban on surprise medial bills. We made historic reforms to our retirement savings systems. And we made strides toward reforming the annual circus that this town knows as tax extenders.
“Republicans were also able to fight – and deliver – important tax relief to patients, families, and small businesses. We were able to eliminate or delay a number of harmful tax hikes that would have stuck Americans with higher costs: including the Health Insurance Tax, the Medical Device Tax, and the Cadillac Tax.
“And most importantly, this Committee led the charge to deliver economic and health relief to our country in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We spearheaded efforts to get help for our workers, families, and small businesses, to get more resources into the hands of our health care providers – including rural health care providers – and to ensure they had more funding to fight this virus.
“The fight isn’t over yet, but the finish line is in sight. Multiple vaccines are available and in last stages of trial. Americans continue to do their part to stop the spread. And our small businesses are hungry to get their workers back so they can continue to serve our communities.
“Which is why Republicans have two main points of focus this Congress: Crush this virus and rebuild this economy.
“To do that, we must ensure any further relief is targeted so that those people and industries that need it most get it in a timely, clear fashion.
“We must continue to aid in the development and distributions of vaccines so that every American who wants a vaccine can get one.
“And we need to help workers reconnect to their jobs – especially those who work for our Main Street businesses.
“But we cannot just be focused on the challenges of today; we must keep on moving forward and looking to address the needs of the next year, next decade, and for the next generation.
“There is more we can do to help Americans plan and save for retirement, and I’m hopeful that we can build on our bipartisan work from the SECURE Act to achieve that.
“We must focus on innovation because whatever country wins the innovation race wins the future.
“We need to work to decouple our medical supply chains from China so that if future pandemics strike, we’re ready from day one.
“And we must continue to use our tax code as a tool for growth: growth of jobs, growth of paychecks, and growth of investment here in America.
“Serving on this Committee has been and is one of the highest honors of my life. It’s a place of tradition, a place of patriotism, a place of America.
“Chairman Neal, I pray for your success this Congress and for our Committee’s success. And you have my word that Republicans will work in good faith as we work together to serve this country we love.