March 10, 2021

Smith Opening Statement: House Floor Debate on Senate Amendment to $1.9 Trillion Bailout

As Prepared for Delivery

Mr. Speaker – “Rewards for the Political Class, Not the Working Class” – that should be the name of this bailout plan.

When our Democrat colleagues got together to decide how to proceed on additional COVID-19 spending, they could have done a number of things.

They could have followed the bipartisan precedent set over the past year and worked across the aisle.

Instead, they chose a purely partisan process to jam through a radical agenda – putting the political class ahead of America’s working class.

They could have looked at the data coming out of the Congressional Budget Office.

Had they done so, they would have seen that, absent any new funding, the economy is projected to reach pre-pandemic levels of real GDP growth by the middle of this year. Further, they would have seen that without this bailout, America is already projected to see its largest GDP growth in more than 15 years.

Instead, they ignored the data – just like they have ignored the science – and they now hope their bailout plan gets credit for an economic recovery that CBO tells us is already underway.

They could have accounted for the approximately $1 trillion in COVID-19 money Congress already approved but which has not been spent yet.

Instead, they ignored calls to provide an accurate and thorough accounting of unspent funds before charging American taxpayers another $2 trillion.

They could have focused on timely and targeted relief to support those most in need, to reopen schools in our communities and storefronts on main street, and to crush the virus and put shots in arms.

Instead, less than 9 percent of this bailout goes to crushing the virus and dispensing vaccines.

Only 5 percent of the k-12 education funding will be spent this year even as Americans are told this money is needed to reopen their children’s schools.

Of course, Democrat Leaders are more than willing to spend hundreds of billions to bailout states, sending a disproportionate share of that money to those states run by their political allies that will reward and incentivize lockdowns.

Just look at how they changed the state funding formula. California, where revenues are up and they are sitting on a surplus of $10 billion, will now get billions more than they otherwise would have. A direct reward to the Speaker and Vice President’s home state.

It was all so predictable really.

From the very beginning of this process, Republicans have been saying that this bailout was never about COVID-19 but rather about Democrats trying to notch some wins for their political base, appease their allies rather than help Americans.

Amazingly, Democrats are not even shy now about admitting that fact.

White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain called this bill the “most progressive domestic legislation in a generation.” Leader Schumer in the Senate called it “one of the most progressive pieces of legislation in decades.”

We are here today because Democrats made a choice – a choice to put their own partisan, political ambitions ahead of the needs of the American people.

When our Democrat colleagues speak of “unity” they mean keeping their party together not pulling the country together.

That is why we have before us the wrong plan, at the wrong time, and for all the wrong reasons.