House Republican Whip Scalise Outlines Principles for Safe American Recovery

WASHINGTON, DC — Republican Whip and Ranking Member of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis Steve Scalise (R-La.) opened today’s subcommittee hearing on “Responding to Our Nation’s Economic Crisis” by blasting subcommittee Democrats for refusing Republicans’ request for a minority witness to testify at today’s hearing, in violation of Congressional rules.

Whip Scalise outlined four guiding principles for pandemic recovery:

  1. Federal policy should reward and support America’s workers
  2. Educating our children safely IN classrooms is a paramount responsibility, not an aspirational goal
  3. Federal policy should accelerate innovation, research, and manufacturing here in the United States
  4. Only a healthy and growing economy can support long term, sustainable and equitable prosperity

Scalise finally stressed the importance of decoupling important supply chains from China and getting children back into school this fall so working families can get to work.

Remarks as prepared for delivery:

“Mr. Chairman, I want to thank our witnesses for appearing before the subcommittee today. They have both had distinguished careers and can offer some important insights on this hearing about Responding to Our Nation’s Economic Crisis. 

“But with due respect, Mr. Chairman, all of today’s witnesses were selected by the majority. I requested, as provided under Rule XI of the House of Representatives, that the minority have a witness so that the Select Subcommittee can hear a diversity of perspectives on a critical but unprecedented moment in our nation’s economic history. The individual I requested is also a widely regarded expert on the economy. He has testified before Congress dozens of times — a former head of the Congressional Budget Office  Congress’s own agency devoted to understanding the budget and economic impact of policy decisions. Mr. Chairman, you denied us that witness, and because of that decision, we are also being denied a diversity of opinion on today’s topic. 

“We should all seek, as the Rules of the House require, to welcome a diversity of opinions at all House Committee hearings, which means both parties should be allowed to invite witnesses to provide us with pertinent testimony. That was denied today at this hearing and that, unfortunately, hinders our ability to get all the facts.

“Mr. Chairman, pursuant to Clause 2(j)(1) of Rule Eleven, I am furnishing you with a demand for a minority day of hearings on this subject.

“While the Rules only require that the demand be supported by a majority of the Republican members of the Committee, this demand is supported by ALL of the Republican members of the Committee.

“I expect that you will not engage in any gamesmanship when scheduling the minority day hearings.

“Now let’s talk about the state of our economy. The unemployment rate in February was 3.5 percent — the lowest in over 50 years. The unemployment rate for African Americans and Hispanic Americans was the lowest on record. Hourly wages were growing at the fastest pace since 2009. America was experiencing the hottest economy we’ve ever seen, and all segments of our country were reaping the benefits.

“And then, a global pandemic hit our shores. China lied and hid the truth. The organization the world looked to for medical expertise and guidance in a pandemic — the World Health Organization  was corruptly-complicit in regurgitating China’s lies. America got hit hard and got hit fast by the worst global pandemic in 100 years. 

“Immediately, America came together to fight the invisible enemy and prevent our hospitals from being overwhelmed — and we did so without knowing nearly as much as we do today about this unique, destructive virus. All we could really do was shut down and put the largest, most prosperous economy in human history on pause. 

“The pause was needed — but it came at a staggering cost. From the lowest unemployment in 50 years, to 40 million job losses. Income inequality was made worse  40 percent of people making less than 40 thousand dollars were laid off. Children lost irretrievable months of in-school learning.  Vaccinations plummeted. Progress on the opioid crisis was reversed. 

“What America must now decide is whether those losses are going to be short-term costs or long-term, irreversible damage. I proudly supported the CARES Act. Virtually everyone in Congress did as well. And there are some important structural building blocks for recovery in that legislation — billions for PPE, for testing, for the development of therapy development and ultimately a vaccine. But let’s be honest about the relief portion of CARES  what we did was float the U.S. economy with borrowed money to temporarily compensate for shutting it down. 

“The question before us today is, knowing what we now know about the unintended costs of the shut-down, do we continue to extend it, or do we instead focus on the building blocks of long term, sustainable and equitable recovery?

“A few key principles and shared goals should guide our direction:

  1. Federal policy should reward and support America’s workers
  2. Educating our children safely IN classrooms is a paramount responsibility, not an aspirational goal
  3. Federal policy should accelerate innovation, research, and manufacturing here in the United States
  4. Only a healthy and growing economy can support long term, sustainable and equitable prosperity

“All Americans are concerned about the continued spread of the virus. And all Americans have a role and a responsibility in helping to slow the spread. Wear your mask! But let’s also acknowledge some key developments. The death rate continues to fall because we are doing better protecting vulnerable populations and improving the treatment of COVID patients. President Trump’s ‘Operation Warp Speed’ is showing great promise, including this week’s remarkable announcement of promising results from vaccine trials! Testing capacity and PPE production continues to ramp up. Red tape is being cut and this progress can give hope to all of us who want to end this pandemic. 

“America must continue to forge ahead with this can-do attitude and find practical solutions to the challenges that must be solved — beginning with safely re-opening our schools. Earlier this week Vice President Pence brought his task force down to Louisiana and I spent the day with them, along with our governor  who is a Democrat  talking with school officials, public health experts, and even Coach O about the importance of getting kids back to school, and how to do it safely. Top medical experts including Dr. Birx were there and confirmed that it can be done, so it must be done. Children need to get back to school and continue their education  the time lost cannot easily be made up. 

“Children’s health will improve if schools re-open. Vaccinations will increase. Child nutrition for our most vulnerable children will improve. The American Academy of Pediatrics issued an important report which, ‘Strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present.’  The report adds, ‘the importance of in-person learning is well documented, and there is already evidence of the negative impacts on children because of school closures in the spring.’  I would like to ask unanimous consent to enter this report into the record.

“School reopening also helps restore a healthy economy because parents can more readily get back to work. We should resolve that no business in America ever again compete with a federal policy that makes unemployment relief pay better than going back to work. Small business after small business has told me their biggest obstacle to reopening is getting their workers to come back because the temporary bonus unemployment check pays more than their salary. This flawed policy must end.

“To continue expanding the recovery we should look to the approach that delivered record low unemployment prior to this pandemic. Let’s build off the success of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. By lowering tax rates for families, as well as creating internationally-competitive corporate rates, we told the world that America is back open for business. And, it worked — that is, if you think the lowest unemployment rate in over 50 years counts as working. 

“We should now pass incentives to make our own national security items — particularly in the PPE and drug industry  to make it in America, so we no longer have to rely on China. At the start of this pandemic, we did not have the manufacturing capacity here in the United States for much needed medical supplies. We can facilitate recovery, create jobs, and make ourselves better prepared and less vulnerable to China’s lies and hoarding.

“Some in Washington are suggesting massive tax increases. I have talked to businessmen and women — large and small  pretty much every day since the shutdown began. We have talked about the challenges, the progress, and the outlook. Not one of them has said Congress should look at tax increases. None suggested raising energy prices. 

“While some in Washington want to continue the shutdown, have the federal government continue to float the economy and have the Federal Reserve just print more money — that is not a path to prosperity. We have faced big challenges throughout our history. America put a man on the moon. We can surely reopen our schools and rebuild our economy. Let’s rise to this challenge!”