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 Consequences of Inaction on COVID Tax Legislation.
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Remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Thank you, Chairman Thompson for calling today’s hearing on the consequences of failure to complete the next round of COVID legislation.
“Before we begin I would like to take a moment to join you in acknowledging the terrorist attacks which took place in New York, Pennsylvania, and here in Washington, 19 years ago today. We came together as a nation then, just was so many Americans have come together to support their neighbors in the current pandemic.
“Today’s hearing provides us a great opportunity to reflect on areas where we agree, and also to assess how much the Speaker’s my-way-or-the-highway approach to economic relief is failing Americans.
“Republicans stand ready to work on another COVID relief package. And we hope that Democrats share this call.
“But sadly, throughout this pandemic, House Democrat leaders have stalled each relief package Congress has passed.
“And as recently as yesterday, we saw Senate Democrats block a smart, targeted relief package that would have given our children, small businesses, and health care workers the help and certainty they need.
“Let’s be clear: any package that makes it to the President’s desk must be bipartisan. The Senate Republican bill was a chance for Democrats to come back to the table.
“But over here in the House, we only have one proposal from the majority party. And the HEROES Act makes no attempts at being bipartisan – it stands no chance of becoming law.
“And part of the reason why is because that bill failed the first litmus test lawmakers must ask when we write these relief packages. Our first question should be: ‘What measures will be most effective in defeating this disease and helping Americans safely return to work and school?’ – not simply ‘How are we going to spend $3 trillion?’ as the Speaker proposed.
“That is the question Republicans are focused on finding answers to today. And I also want to thank our witnesses for being here today, who will help us in finding an answer.
“We will hear from Mr. Colicchio about the increase in food insecurity in the past six months.
“Prior to this pandemic, we were making progress on increasing food security in this country. Earlier this week, USDA reported that food insecurity was at its lowest level in over a decade in 2019, helped by the strong economy fueled by tax and regulatory relief. We also know American ag producers are the most efficient in the world and stand ready to feed their neighbors, now and into the future.
“And although that isn’t in the jurisdiction of this committee, Republicans agree we can and should do more to help the neediest Americans have access to nutritious food, particularly in this difficult time.
“Ms. Long will be sharing with us her story of losing work because of the pandemic, receiving enhanced unemployment benefits, and finding a new job.
“We share the view that our small businesses back home and even Democrat governors across the country are telling us: we need to fine-tune the short-term unemployment payments created as part of the CARES Act so we can reconnect the unemployed with our job creators who still have good-paying jobs to offer.
“Dr. Stevenson also opens her remarks by highlighting the importance of our efforts to maintain connections between employees and employers.
“Mayor Morial will highlight for us the housing challenges created by the pandemic.
“I appreciate the President and his administration taking decisive action on evictions.
“This was needed action. But we know that our housing situation needs a much more comprehensive solution than merely banning evictions. And while housing also is not in this committee’s jurisdiction, any policy we pass needs to be bipartisan and focused on helping those most in need. Banning evictions alone doesn’t address underlying costs such as insurance, taxes, and mortgage payments which landlords must still pay, and the threat to our economy is great if these commitments aren’t met across the country.
“And finally we will hear from Mr. Brill about steps we can take to help employers safely reopen and keep employees on the payroll, including expanding the employee retention tax credit and providing assistance with cleaning and social distancing.
“We need to address the challenges before us today, and we need to plan for the future so that if another pandemic hits, we are prepared. Already, we are experiencing one of the fastest economic recoveries on record. There is still progress that needs to be made; we are not yet out of this pandemic.
“But we cannot secure short-term or long-term growth for our workers unless we work together, Republicans and Democrats, Congress and the White House, toward a solution.
“Republicans here today are ready to engage. Mr. Chairman, we ask that you and House Democrat leaders choose to work with us so that we can get our families and small businesses the help and certainty they need.
“I yield back.”
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