WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Steny H. Hoyer (MD-05) spoke on the House Floor tonight(yesterday) in support of the omnibus appropriations and emergency coronavirus relief legislation. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery and a link to the video:
“Madam Speaker, they say ‘good things come to those who wait.’ The American people have certainly been waiting and watching and hoping that Congress would not only be able to avert a shutdown, but also provide much-needed COVID-19 relief. We now have a bipartisan agreement and legislation that will achieve both of those aims. This bill completes the appropriations process by investing in the American people, in our national defense, in economic opportunity, and in strengthening safety net programs that keep Americans out of poverty.
“I want to thank Chairwoman Nita Lowey for her hard work, along with Ranking Member Kay Granger and their staffs for their tremendous effort. I particularly want to thank Shalanda Young – an extraordinary talent, whose leadership makes seminal contributions to all sections of this bill and to previous bills dealing with appropriations and the COVID-19 pandemic. She represents the best of us.
“As a result of this omnibus, the next President will be able to start his Administration focusing on immediate challenges instead of trying to finish the previous year’s work.
“In addition, this end-of-year package includes critical clean-energy legislation passed by the House earlier this year that makes important progress toward addressing the climate crisis while ensuring that America can create good jobs by leading the clean-energy economy.
“We were also able to include legislation that protects patients from surprise bills by removing them from the fight between insurers and providers and implementing a fairer process for resolving disputes.
“On COVID-19 relief, while we were unable to secure agreement on every priority that Democrats sought we were able to include many of the provisions we included in previous bills of May 15 and October 1 of this year, for which Democrats have been fighting for months and that Americans desperately need. These include a resumption of expanded unemployment benefits, another round of direct payments, relief for renters, assistance to make sure that Americans can put food on the table and provide for their families during this time of crisis, additional help for small businesses, and resources to help schools reopen safely. In addition, we secured another $3.36 billion for GAVI, the International Vaccine Alliance, recognizing that the fight against COVID-19 is truly a global one.
“In the new year, we will continue to work to ensure that our country can meet the challenges of COVID-19, including help for state, local, tribal, and territorial governments. No compromise is perfect, and this is not perfect. But it is essential that we move forward and do our jobs for the American people.
“That’s why the House did its job by passing the Heroes Act in May and again in October – and why we passed appropriation bills to fund nearly all of government by July. It was disappointing that the Senate waited until November to begin serious consideration of appropriations. Thankfully, though, we are taking action together now to provide relief and prevent a shutdown.
“I urge the President to sign this legislation without delay. Just as I urge him to sign the National Defense Authorization Act that we passed earlier this month. Let’s finish the work of the 117th Congress for the people.”