After Senate Democrats voted for a second time to tank a bipartisan Phase 3 coronavirus relief package–which would provide additional relief to Iowa’s families, seniors, and small businesses—U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) Monday spoke on the Senate floor calling on her colleagues to put aside partisan politics and to come together—in a bipartisan way—to deliver for the American people.
Ernst cited the countless Iowans she has spoken with directly since the coronavirus outbreak—including top state officials, small business owners, members of Iowa’s agricultural community, workers at Iowa’s hospitals and in the health care industry—and the urgent need to provide them with additional support and resources to keep their businesses running, to put food on their tables, and to care for Iowans who are sick.
Senator Ernst’s remarks are below:
“Our country is facing a crisis.
“I have served many times over…many times over in crisis…floods…hurricanes…and war. In a slightly different suit.
“We are facing a crisis.
“We have three states that have had National Guardsmen activated in support of the Coronavirus pandemic.
“We are in a crisis.
“And right now, we right here in Congress have the ability – the duty – to act, and to provide additional, much-needed relief to the American people.
“Last night and, unfortunately, yet again today have been very, very disappointing displays of putting partisan politics ahead of the immediate needs of the American people.
“Some will call this righteous indignation. I say no—it’s fighting for the American people.
“My friends on the other side of the aisle delayed…no let’s say it the way it is – they blocked…they blocked – this package. To move to cloture to further debate this bill. This bipartisan relief package.
“And let me make this clear – the votes we’ve been taking haven’t even been on the final bill…it’s simply a way for us to continue negotiating and debating on a path forward on a bipartisan relief package…a package that—again I’m going to echo what my colleague from Ohio said—was writing in a bipartisan way. Two Republicans, two Democrats from these lead committees assigned to these task forces.
“Folks, Iowans deserve better than this. All Americans deserve better than this.
“This is no time for political games and partisan wish lists—and yes, there are partisan wish lists out there—of things that have nothing to do with the immediate needs of this pandemic.
“This is a time for action, folks, and it is a time for leadership.
“Look folks, the Senate took up a House-led Phase 2 package that many of us considered not perfect.
“Phase 2, now let’s keep that in mind. There are many phases going on during this pandemic. Phase 2—we didn’t feel that was perfect—well what happens when a Phase 2 is not perfect? You move to a Phase 3. Because we need immediate relief.
“We put our differences aside here in the Senate and we supported—we supported—the Phase 2 package and provided the second round of immediate relief for our workers, our families, our seniors, and businesses across the country. Why? Folks, gosh darn-it, it is the right thing to do.
“Why can’t my Democratic colleagues do the same?
“We need to be working in the most efficient and effective way possible to get immediate relief to the men, the women, and the children across this country. We need to get them what they need.
“I’ve spoken directly with Iowans by phone all week – the small business owners, members of our ag community, many workers at our hospitals and in our health care industry.
“These moms and dads, the employees and employers, the grandmas and the grandpas, nurses and doctors, small business owners, farmers, veterans – you name it – they are all in crisis at this very moment.
“I can’t tell you how many of those Iowans were crying on the phone with me. They keep saying, ‘We need it now. We need relief now.’
“Maybe you don’t think—across the aisle—that Phase 3 is perfect. But you know what? The longer we delay this, the more Iowans I’m going to hear crying on the other end of the phone. Not one of them has told me, ‘Don’t pass this bill.’ Not a single one of them. What they have said is that it needs to be done today.
“Again, I will remind you, that there are states where we have mobilized National Guard soldiers. The president and those governors don’t just mobilize National Guard soldiers because it’s a fun thing to do. They do it because we are a nation in crisis.
“Just over night in Iowa we had 15 more cases…and that’s a total of 105 cases of Coronavirus in my home state. That’s not a lot compared to other states, but you know what? Iowa’s not populated a lot like other states. 105 in Iowa, that is a lot for us.
“Just a couple hours ago I was on the call with Iowa’s state leaders who are at the State Emergency Operations Center…let me say that again…Emergency Operations Center…an EOC. You don’t just set those up for fun folks. You set ‘em up when your state is in crisis.
“They gave us a picture of what’s going on with our workers and our small businesses on the ground in Iowa. Within 3 hours, the state received over 11,000 calls for unemployment insurance. 2,000 of them are self-employed…they won’t qualify for unemployment insurance. You know what would relieve their hurt? This package…Phase 3.
“Meanwhile, my Democratic colleagues are holding this bill up – that would actually deliver relief that is necessary for these workers that I just mentioned – for things that have nothing to do with a crisis.
“Senate Democrats are stalling funding for hospitals and small businesses until they get to jam through their Green New Deal.
“Mr. President, you tell me, what does placing emissions standards on airlines have to do with getting Iowa families and workers the relief they need right now?
“The Green New Deal was brought up on this very floor last year. How many of them voted for it? None, none. Big zero. Big zero. They didn’t believe in it then so why are they trying to jam it through now?
“Americans from every corner of this nation are looking to the Senate for more help.
“This is an extraordinary situation folks and it requires an extraordinary response.
“This is arguably the biggest bill ever – nearly two trillion dollars of funding—but is that enough? If we were offering up three trillion dollars, would it be enough? If it were four trillion, would it be enough?
“I guarantee you that our friends on the other side of the aisle would say, ‘Oh, that’s not enough. We need the Green New Deal…we need X,Y, Z’—which has nothing to do with the COVID-19 crisis.
“Mr. President, we are better than this.
“Let’s come together, in a bipartisan way – as we have done through much of this process…we took up Phase 2, we supported it. I was glad to support it because it was the right thing to do. Let’s deliver for the American people. It is our duty.
“We do not have the time to delay. We must pass this additional relief now.
“And again, it’s Phase 3. There may be many more phases to go. And if the Democrats believe it is the right thing to do, they’ll get this package done today, and we’ll move on it, have discussions for yet another phase.”