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DeFazio Speaks on House Floor in Support of Coronavirus Recovery Bill

Mar 27, 2020
Press Release

Rep. Peter DeFazio today spoke on the House floor in support of H.R. 478, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

DeFazio’s remarks as prepared for delivery can be found below.

 

Remarks as delivered can be found here.

 

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There’s no doubt this global pandemic has brought our nation to its knees.

Public health experts agree this virus will worsen in the coming days. People we know and love will get sick. And more people will die, despite the heroic efforts of health care workers who are sacrificing their own health to give strangers a fighting chance.

We also know the financial fall-out from this crisis is unprecedented.

3.3 million people lost their jobs this past week, a new record no one wants to see. Through no fault of their own, American workers have been sidelined by a vicious virus that has brought our economy to a stunning but necessary halt as we work to “flatten the curve” to protect health and safety.

Our next steps in this fight—to both contain the virus and prevent further layoffs—are critical.

And while members of Congress can’t be the experts in the lab developing a vaccine, or flying the cargo planes with medical supplies, there is something we can do today: get desperately-needed funding and medical supplies to hospitals and frontline healthcare workers, and provide critical relief to the millions of laid-off workers and small business owners who are hurting right now.

Now, there’s no question the bill the Senate sent us isn’t perfect.

Remember, the Republican starting point was a massive corporate slush fund with no transparency, accountability, or worker protections.

But we could not allow a repeat of the failed bailout in 2008. I’m proud to be part of the Democratic negotiating team that protected jobs because we know that putting working people first is how we as a country can get back on our feet.

We didn’t get everything we wanted this time around, but this bill will put checks in the mail to 80 percent of Americans who make under six figures, and it will boost critical benefits for anyone who lost their job amid this crisis.

We fought hard so this bill will ensure millions of bus drivers, train operators, railroad workers, flight crews, airline ground workers, airport workers, and more not only remain on the job but keep as many of their hard-won health and retirement benefits as possible during this crisis. The relief in this package flows to workers first, not last—and it makes clear to any industry getting relief: no stock buybacks, no executive giveaways, no layoffs. Workers first - period.

And when we finally turn a corner on this awful virus—we will have a better shot at having a functioning economy to return to.

This bill is triage: keep workers on the job and avoid economic collapse.

Next step: intensive care -- a true stimulus that creates jobs and rebuilds our decaying infrastructure. In the coming days and weeks, I will double down on an infrastructure package that repairs the breach left by years of neglect—that rebuilds failing bridges, restores crumbling highways, and puts people to work on projects with jobs that cannot be exported.

But let’s be clear: we have a long way to go to address what truly ails our economy.

COVID-19 is the virus we are battling right now, but our economy has been sick for a very long time.

Corporate greed, Wall Street demands that put profits over people, nearly 2 trillion dollars in tax cuts that went straight to the top—all of that is symptomatic of a system that for far too long has kept working people down even as the stock market soared.

We need a system that always puts workers and families first—not just during a national emergency and not just when it’s politically convenient.

I’ll always be ready to roll up my sleeves for that fight.

I yield the floor.

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