Thompson Opening Statement at Select Revenue Measures Subcommittee Hearing on Tax Relief to Support Workers and Families during the COVID-19 Recession
(As prepared for delivery)
Thank you all for joining the first remote hearing of the Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures. We find ourselves in challenging times, as evidenced by this new method of conducting Committee business in accordance with public health safety recommendations.
But the challenges we encounter here in Congress are small compared to what I hear and see, and what I’m sure all of you hear and see in our communities. I am glad we can move forward and do the work that our constituents need so acutely, given the difficult economic situations in which so many find themselves.
The COVID-19 recession has laid bare the economic struggles of millions of American families. With almost no warning, the shutdown claimed tens of millions of jobs, and American workers and families felt the ground fall out from under them. Many had been just barely scraping by and unable to save much for a rainy day, and the sudden loss of income has left them with nothing.
Food banks are seeing unprecedented demand, and the country is on the verge of a rent crisis. Previously self-sufficient Americans have lost their livelihoods and exhausted their financial reserves.
The pre-pandemic prosperity never reached millions of American workers and families, and now they are facing financial catastrophe. Strong economic growth over the last decade has abundantly rewarded the wealthiest in our nation, but that growth has not been broadly shared.
Despite the strongest labor market in fifty years before the pandemic – starting in 2009 with 128 months of growth – over a third of Americans had so little financial security that they would have been unable to cover an unanticipated $400 expense. Now, after job losses or reductions in hours – and reductions in income – so many of our neighbors are facing financial catastrophe.
Congress acted swiftly at the outset of the pandemic and must do more to ensure that economically vulnerable people do not fall into irreversible financial disaster. As businesses gradually reopen, many workers are coping with drastically reduced hours and lower paychecks that will not cover their bills. Even people fortunate enough to be returning to work will likely be struggling for some time in the future.
The House passed the Heroes Act last month, renewing Democrats’ commitment to helping Americans stay on their feet until their jobs come back. The Heroes Act extends and expands economic impact payments, and it broadens tax relief through the Child Tax Credit, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit. It also supports workers with a more generous employer retention tax credit to maintain payroll, and additional credits to cover fixed costs and employees’ COVID-19-related expenses.
The Republican Senate must act now. It cannot continue to ignore the needs of American families. Millions of hardworking Americans have been thrown out of work through no fault of their own and need help with the basics, like rental assistance and food.
This is no time to abandon our fellow citizens. They deserve—and should be able to expect—our support during this extraordinary disaster.
Before I recognize Ranking Member Smith for his opening statement, I want to mention another piece of legislation that would provide vital tax relief for a subset of Americans with disability in the United States.
My bill, H.R. 2086, the Access Technology Affordability Act, would help blind employees and job-seekers get the equipment they need to gain and then retain employment during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Working from home is made exponentially more difficult when your ability to work is so reliant on expensive technology that many don’t have readily accessible outside the work place.
I urge my colleagues to look at this legislation and work with me to advance it, and I ask unanimous consent to have this statement I have here from the National Federation of The Blind entered in the record.
And with that I will recognize the ranking member, Mr. Smith of Nebraska, for the purposes of an opening statement.