[Congressional Record Volume 166, Number 224 (Friday, January 1, 2021)]
[Senate]
[Pages S7996-S7997]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                  UNANIMOUS CONSENT REQUEST--H.R. 9051

  Mr. SCHUMER. Mr. President, well, I can't remember the last time the 
Senate convened on New Year's Day. I want to take this opportunity to 
wish all of my colleagues a happy new year. I want to thank the staff 
for having to come into work on New Year's Day, and I want to bid good 
riddance to 2020.
  There can be no question that last year was a horrible year--as they 
have said in Britain, an ``annus horribilis.'' But as we begin the 
first year of this new decade, preparing to inaugurate a new President 
and inoculate the country against this virus, the American people have 
reason to hope.
  The Senate can start off this new year by adding to that sense of 
hope by sending $2,000 checks to struggling American families. The 
Senate can start off 2021 by really helping the American people. We can 
start off 2021 by sending $2,000 checks to struggling American families 
to carry them through the darkest and final days of this pandemic.
  The votes today, on this uncommon New Year's Day session, could be 
the last of the 116th Congress. That means that today is the last 
chance to take up and pass the House bill to provide $2,000 checks to 
the American people. If the Senate does not take action today, $2,000 
checks will not become law before the end of Congress, and they will 
know that Leader McConnell and the Republican majority have prevented 
them from getting the checks, plain and simple.
  This is the last chance--the last chance for a mother in Nashville, 
$4,000 behind on the rent, whose water was shut off earlier this month. 
This is the last chance--the last chance for the medical receptionist 
in Macomb, $2,100 behind on the rent, whose electricity was shut off in 
September, on her son's third day of virtual kindergarten. The kid 
can't go to school. This is the last chance for 12 million Americans 
who have fallen nearly $6,000 behind on rent and utility or the 26 
million Americans who have had trouble putting food on the table--the 
last chance.
  Make no mistake about it, $600 has never been enough for them. This 
is the last chance to deliver $2,000 before a new Congress is sworn in 
and the legislative process must start all over again.
  For once, we have progressive Democrats, conservative Republicans, 
the President himself, and not to mention the majority--the vast 
majority--of the American people singing from the same songbook in 
support of these checks. We have a bill that has already passed the 
House.
  All we are asking for is a simple vote in the Senate. I, for one, am 
confident it would pass if given the chance, and that may be the real 
reason that Leader McConnell and the Republicans don't want to bring it 
up. We have had many opportunities this week to vote on the measure. 
Senator McConnell has blocked every one of them.
  We have offered to vote on whatever unrelated issues the Republican 
leader says he wants to vote on, so long as we can get a clean vote on 
the House bill to provide $2,000 checks--the only way to actually make 
it happen in this year, in this session of Congress. That offer still 
stands. That offer still stands. But give us a vote. Give us a vote on 
the House bill.
  It is OK if the Republican leader opposes checks. It is OK if the 
majority of Republican Senators oppose the checks. They can make their 
case to the American people and oppose the bill, but let us vote. It is 
OK if the Republican leader wants to call direct assistance to American 
people ``poorly targeted'' and ``socialism for the rich,'' even after 
he drove the passage of a $2 trillion across-the-board reduction in 
corporate taxes. But give us a vote. Make the argument. Let the Senate 
work its will.
  To me, it seems like the Republican leader is afraid to schedule a 
vote on $2,000 checks because he is afraid it will pass. What a 
terrifying thought that struggling Americans would get some money to 
feed their families, pay the rent, and get on with their lives; pay the 
utility bill of that kindergarten kid or third grade kid who can't even 
go to school because his family can't afford electricity.
  We have a chance--a chance at the end of this painful year and at the 
beginning of a new one--to give Americans reason for hope in 2021. The 
only thing standing in the way right now is Leader McConnell and the 
Republican Senate majority.
  In a moment, I will ask consent for the final time that the Senate 
set a time for a vote on the House bill to provide $2,000 checks. I 
have done it every day this week. This is it, the last chance for the 
116th Congress to pass $2,000 checks and to say to regular Americans: 
``Help is on the way.''
  Let's have a vote. Let's have a vote. Pass this bill. There is no 
better way to usher in the new year.
  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the Senate proceed to the 
immediate consideration of Calendar No. 645, H.R. 9051, a bill to 
increase recovery rebate amounts to $2,000 per individuals; that the 
bill be read a third time and the Senate vote on passage; and if 
passed, that the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon 
the table with no intervening action or debate.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  The assistant majority leader.
  Mr. THUNE. Mr. President, reserving the right to object--and let me 
say, through the Chair, thank you to the Senator from New York and the 
Senator from Vermont, the Senator from Illinois, and others here for 
the opportunity to spend New Year's with them. I know that has always 
been something that has been on my bucket list--maybe not on top of the 
bucket list. But, nevertheless, thank you for that opportunity. It does 
feel like a long time ago, but it was, actually, only--if you can 
believe this--the beginning of last week when both sides of the aisle 
and both sides of the Capitol came together to pass a targeted, 
responsible, and necessary relief package, which became law with 
overwhelming bipartisan support. It passed here in the Senate 92 to 6. 
Members on both sides of the aisle, myself included, have demonstrated 
that we are willing to dedicate resources to those who are struggling 
during this pandemic.

  The problem with what is being put forward--the House-passed CASH 
Act--is that it is not targeted to help those who are the most in need. 
I will just point out that it is not just our saying that; even the 
Washington Post editorial board called it ``one last bad idea'' for 
2020. It singled out as ``especially wrongheaded'' the efforts of the 
progressive left to depict this ``as aid to `desperate' Americans 
despite the huge amounts''--this is the Washington Post's term--
``destined for perfectly comfortable families.''

[[Page S7997]]

  As others here on the floor have noted, the bill would provide a 
payment to a family of five making up to $350,000. A family of five 
making $250,000 would receive a $5,000 benefit. Just to put that in 
perspective, that is more than was paid to a middle-class family of 
five under the CARES Act that we passed back in March. In addition, the 
bill would add an additional $463 billion--nearly half a trillion 
dollars--to the annual debt.
  Again, it is all money we have to borrow. All of this is money we 
have to borrow, and that is more than the first two economic impact 
payments combined. Put that in perspective, and think of other ways you 
could use that amount of money. The truth is that those types of sums 
could potentially be spent in many more targeted ways, but our 
colleagues on the Democratic side don't even want to debate some of 
those alternatives.
  Allowing small businesses a second draw from the Paycheck Protection 
Program would cost, approximately, $285 billion. For the cost of the 
CASH Act, we could do another round of assistance to help small 
businesses keep their employees on the payrolls and still have almost 
$200 billion left over. The expanded unemployment benefits--signed into 
law last week--will cost approximately $120 billion for 11 additional 
weeks. That means, for the same cost as this proposal, we could provide 
an additional 40 weeks--10 months--of enhanced unemployment insurance 
benefits to those who have lost their jobs.
  This is simply not targeted relief for the people who need it the 
most, and those who say that we should just vote on this flawed House 
bill conveniently leave out the fact that they do not want us to amend 
it to make it better in order to deliver more assistance to the people 
who are hurting the most.
  Again, I will just point out one last time that it has been less than 
a week, really, since the Senate voted and the President signed into 
law a proposal negotiated, literally, over months. Every fine point of 
that proposal was negotiated, and it was signed into law to provide 
targeted, fiscally responsible assistance to the people of this country 
who need it the most. This proposal is a shotgun approach, where a 
rifle makes a lot more sense.
  If you really want to help people who need this the most, at a time 
when we are running a $26 trillion debt and are borrowing every penny 
that we are making available to do this, we ought to sit down and 
figure out how to do it in the most efficient, effective, targeted way 
possible. This, absolutely, does not do that. When you have a family 
who is making $350,000 a year in this country getting up to thousands 
of dollars of payments and a family making $250,000 a year in this 
country getting, under this proposal, a $5,000 check, I would argue 
that it is not targeted, that it is not fiscally responsible, that it 
is not efficient, and that it is not an effective way to spend the 
American taxpayers' dollars.
  Let's help the people who need it the most. We just passed and signed 
into law a proposal that does that. I think many of us on this side of 
the aisle are willing to look at other ideas and things that we could 
do that would help these people more, but this is certainly not it, so 
I object.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard.
  The majority--excuse me. The Democratic leader.
  Mr. SCHUMER. Someday soon.
  (Laughter.)
  Mr. President, the only thing I would say, through the Chair, to my 
friend from South Dakota is that the many proposals he proposed as 
alternatives to our proposal are those to which the Republican majority 
objected when we had our negotiations on the CARES bill. We believe 
this can be in addition to the expansion of unemployment insurance and 
other things. Given the state of the economy, that is what is needed.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Vermont.

                          ____________________