Democrat State Sen. Tony Bisignano took to the floor on Thursday as he interestingly offered frustration felt by many conservative activists across the state surrounding the COVID vaccine mandate/unemployment bill for much of his speech.
Bisignano called the bill “unusual” and said it came at an “unusual time and in an unusual way.” He immediately took exception with the idea that the bill does anything for freedom and rights of Iowans.
“You talk about standing up for the rights and freedoms of Iowans — this bill doesn’t stand up for anything,” he said. “All you’re doing is buying people off by giving a trade of unemployment for them standing by their medical or their religious convictions. I was out there today. I visited with a number of these people who were here today to petition. They don’t want this bill. So I’m trying to figure out, other than Democrats who don’t like to cut unemployment and we know you do, but we don’t. And so, we’re going to support this bill because we’re not going to leave that person out along the road who has a medical condition or a religious objection. We’re not going to cut their unemployment.
“You’re not giving the people who petitioned today anything. They want freedom, which you talked about, but there’s no freedom in this bill. All this bill says is if you lose job, which you’re going to, because you’re not dealing with the mandate, you’re going to give them their measly, weekly unemployment check. Now, as we meet and gather here with 150 legislators, we have one governor who could’ve signed an executive order. She could do anything she wants. Timing is everything.”
Bisignano called unemployment the “consolation gift” for losing someone’s job.
“They’re losing their jobs. That’s what they’re protesting is losing their job based on their liberty, based on their religion and based on their medical history,” he said. “Not unemployment. At the end of the road, when you wear out your weeks and they’re still out of a job and the unemployment stops, what’d they get? They didn’t get anything.”
Bisignano called the bill “a joke” while noting he’d support it on the premise of unemployment.
“We’re missing the mark,” he said. “Let’s don’t brag about freedoms and liberties when we’re giving nothing to these people — nothing. And don’t say it. It’s not true. We need to talk about what is the religious freedom and why do I have to expose myself? Why do I have to expose my medical condition to my employer? That’s where we need to get back to the discussion. But we’re all in a hurry. We all can’t wait to get out of here and get back home. This is a critical debate. And I’m not going to stand in this room and let somebody talk about religious freedom when this does nothing but give you chump change in exchange for your freedom. We’re buying their freedom. That’s what we’re doing. We’re not protecting it, we’re buying it.”
Bisignano said he spoke with many protestors who said they were led down paths believing they were supported by the GOP when the bill is instead “cosmetic.”
“This isn’t real,” he said. “They know that too. There was more discussion about being hoodwinked around here, about how you blow a dog whistle and they show up, they make the noise, they give you the photo ops, you can put it in your brochures. They’re angry about that. They’re angry about the last time they were here and we did nothing. We can continue down this path, acting like we’ve addressed something — we’ve addressed nothing. We’ve actually insulted them by saying stand by your convictions because you’re going to lose a $50,000 a year job and we’re going to give you $200 bucks a week in unemployment. There you go. I paid for your freedom. I paid for your liberty.”
He added he hopes the Republicans think the bill is real because they have to go sell it, but the people at the Capitol on Thursday were sincere and wanted redress, but they did not receive it.
“Not by any means,” he said. “In your moment of generosity, unemployment now is not important.”