March 24, 2020
“There is no reason to delay, no reason to wait another day. The bill provides health care workers what they need and provides the economy the sort of certainty and security that the entire country needs.”
Click here to watch Sen. Barrasso’s remarks.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) spoke on the Senate floor about the need to pass coronavirus relief legislation today.
Excerpts of Senator Barrasso’s remarks:
“I would like to associate myself with the remarks of the Republican whip that the time for political games is over.
“It is time to get this piece of legislation passed and signed into law. The American people need it. They want it and they are watching.
“Yesterday, the U.S. Surgeon General warned, he said, this week it's going to get bad. He was talking about the health care aspects of it, and I was on the phone last night along with my colleague, Senator Enzi, with a telephone town hall meeting talking to people all around Wyoming, and it's not just the health care side of it that's going to get back. The economic side of it is going to get bad.
“People who every day want to get up and go to work are now for the first time in a long, long time told they can't do so. Not by their employer but by the government.
“I've been visiting with doctors, with our health care providers, expecting more patients today and tomorrow and through the week. Some health care systems are being overrun.
“We need to get this done today. Americans are doing their part in preventing community spread of the virus, but the men and women on the front line taking care of those patients need resources that would be included in this bill, and we need to get this passed today.
“The private sector is mobilizing to provide more tests, more masks, more respirators, more ventilators. They’re doing their job. This Senate needs to do its job today. The administration has green-lighted scientific breakthroughs and flexibility for our health care systems.
“The Senate has had a bipartisan process the entire time we’ve been working. As the senator from South Dakota has just outlined, the working groups we have are coming up with bipartisan
“And together we have put together the largest economic and health care rescue package in the history of this country. It's time to pass it today.
“But today, at least at the end of the last night, we were still at a standstill, being blocked and delayed by basically the Speaker of the House. Blocked from providing relief for the American people by the Speaker of the House and the Democrats who are doing her bidding.
“They continue to play politics with the lives and the livelihoods of the American people.
“And it's distressing because just within the last hour, the Speaker of the House is on national television and she's talking about what her options are, political options. No sense of urgency at all. I did not hear a sense of urgency in her voice. I didn't get a sense that she understood the gravity of the situation.
“When I listened to her voice talking about this, talked about a number of things on her wish list, talking about leveraging opportunities. This isn't about political leverage.
“This is about the American people and the needs of our nation at this time of health care crisis and economic crisis.
“She talked about calling the House back in session as one of her options and then having a House-passed bill, and then going to a conference.
“We need action in this body today, and we need this bill on the president's desk tonight.
“Today in this country we have over 46,000 people who've had the test for coronavirus and have tested positive. In the United States. People say a lack of testing. But 46,000 people have tested positive. So the total numbers may be beyond that.
“We have nearly 600 deaths in the United States from this virus that is raging around the world.
“In New York where the minority leader is from, they are touching the Javitz Center into a field hospital.
“Men and women in the military know what a field hospital is all about. Physicians who have gone through medical school understand the history of field hospitals. The New York health care system could be overrun in a week, according to some estimates.
“This bill needs to pass today. When you look back on this, in a day, in a week, in a month, you just say how many deaths could have been prevented if this bill had been passed yesterday instead of today.
“But to think that delaying this even beyond today is an option, it is not. The bipartisan bill that the senators have worked on needs to pass today, be accepted and moved from the House to the White House.
“It is hard to defend the indefensible, but that's where we find ourselves with so many Democrats coming to vote against even the motion to proceed to debate on the bill. An unnecessary delay.
“It blocks the surge of supplies that our hospitals need, it blocks the access to health care, it blocks the medical innovation, it blocks support for our health care workers, every one of those no votes was a block for assistance to communities all around the country.
“The votes to block the motion to proceed delayed over $240 billion in emergency funding. That vote to block the motion to the bill blocked $100 million for hospitals, $20 billion for veterans health care, $11 billion for vaccines and therapeutics.
“The list goes on and on. Why? It seems to me it's because the Speaker of the House has come back here with her own bill that we had on the floor here yesterday having just been made aware of what was in it. We looked at this wish list while the American people wait and watch and worry.
“And it was a liberal wish list. Things that have nothing to do with the disease or the treatment or the recovery of the economy.
“They blocked for a liberal wish list the list of things that would help save people's lives. Resources that as a doctor I know are needed in a health care crisis.
“Why are they holding this up? We had a productive bipartisan process to put a bill together that seemed on Saturday night to be right on the wave of a successful bipartisan effort, and yet they all voted no under the direction of the Speaker of the House who said she wanted more in it and came out with her own bill.
“And I will get to that wish list in a moment. We have told the American public and governors and mayors and hospitals that we are doing everything we can, and I believe that over the weekend as this bipartisan group worked together.
“But to see all of the Democrats come to the floor and vote no, it makes me rethink that.
“We have an opportunity to do something the American public needs. We could have done it and should have done it yesterday.
“The demands that we're looking at really have nothing to do with saving lives, nothing to do with combating the coronavirus. And the list that I've seen from the House bill has everything to do with capitulation to the extremes of Nancy Pelosi's party, the far left of her party, making good on the deal that she cut so she could remain as Speaker of the House.
“Yesterday, she seemed to be more interest, and was more interested, in the press reports reliving the passage of Obamacare ten years ago than in the crisis that we are facing today.
“Reliving ten years ago a law instead of what law needs to be passed today and should have been passed yesterday.
“And it's ironic, that one of the architects of Obamacare who was celebrating that, Ezekiel Emanuel, he wrote a book when Obamacare was passed. What he said in the book was that there were too many hospitals in the United States. He said we have 1,000 too many hospitals in the United States.
“Well, since Obamacare has passed, 120 hospitals have closed, many of those rural hospitals. Obamacare blocked expanding physician-owned hospitals.
“But yet I hear from the same folks that today we need to expand our health care capacity. We don't have the hospital beds and the facilities to provide for the care that may be necessary in what the surgeon general said was a week things would get worse -- likely much worse.
“I don't understand why the Senate Democrats have chosen to align themselves with Speaker Pelosi on this leftist list of all of their wants overriding the needs of the American people.
“The House bill that Nancy Pelosi just put out, 1,100 pages, it is one special interest giveaway
“When one takes a look at this, and this came up last night on the telephone town hall meeting that Senator Enzi and I had with the folks in Wyoming, I said, really, money for tax breaks for solar panels, for wind turbines.
“They are holding up voting for this emergency bill to help the American people in terms of the economy and in terms of our health care over solar panels and wind turbines, a Green New Deal about airline emissions.
“In this bill, this emergency rescue package for the American people, a student loan giveaway, a bailout for the United States postal service, new same-day voter registration and early voting requirements.
“That has no place in an emergency rescue package for the American people. That's why we were astonished on this side of the aisle why the Democrats one after another after another would come to the floor to vote no for even a motion to proceed to this rescue legislation.
“The American public needs relief -- health care relief knowing that there is a treatment on the way, that there is research being done in vaccines and testing is on the way. That's what the American people need to know.
“They need to know if they can't get a paycheck at work because their work has been shut down whether it's a restaurant or store, whatever, has been shut down and can't go to their job, they need to know they can pay for food, put food on the table for their family.
“Instead, what the Speaker is asking for in her bill is increasing collective bargaining for big labor, requirements for racial and gender diversity for corporate boards, an automatic extension of nonimmigrant Visas, money for planned parenthood, money to maintain the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
“These are all worthy topics for discussion, but not on this bill which is a rescue bill for the American people.
“Let me be clear. This list that came to us from the House is a special interest wish list. It's not a list for people suffering from the coronavirus. This is while we have 150 million American workers watching and waiting and worrying.
“If somebody thought on the other side of the aisle they could just slip some of these items that the Speaker of the House wants into this senate bill in an emergency, they are wrong. The president said last night he won't approve such a list so they are delaying.
“They seem to be blocking the bill for something that will never become law.
“We know what's going on here. The media even understands what's going on here. One major outlet, CNN, said that the Democrats are engaging in political gamesmanship.
“This is about the future of our country, the future of the people of our country and yet we're seeing political gamesmanship being played by the other side of the aisle.
“The American people get it as well. They see through it. And the American people know that valuable days are being lost here.
“We need to pass this today. No more delays. The bill has been written in a bipartisan way in the senate. It should pass with overwhelming numbers. I see no reason why we can't vote today. I see no reason to delay.
“This is the time to get health care capacity on line to deal with this health care crisis in a week that, as the Surgeon General said, is going to get much worse.
“We need today to prepare our hospitals and our health care systems for the surge of patients that is coming. They need to be ready. The men and women who are working in those hospitals, they are ready.
“They are in the fight of their lives. They are the heroes in the hometowns all across America because coronavirus is in every state and in many, many communities.
“So those men and women are there and they need to hear that the Senate and the House and the president and this nation, the government, is standing behind them.
“And not standing at a distance but right there in the fight with them by providing what they need, the testing, supplies, the equipment, one thing after another so they can do what that they are trained to do which is save lives, heal the sick and prevent disease.
“That's why people go into medicine. That's why they go into the profession. The doctors and the nurses and the therapists and all of those people working there, they go to school to learn to save lives.
“They go to learn to treat disease and treat the sick and prevent disease, and that's what this coronavirus has put all of them in a position to do, to do their best work. We have to make sure they have everything they need, and for that reason we need to pass this bill today.
“There is no reason to delay, no reason to wait another day. The bill provides them what they need and provides the economy the sort of certainty and security that the entire country needs.
“I appreciate the opportunity to share these thoughts, and my final message is this bill needs to be passed today.”