Floor Remarks by U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa
Out Partisan Budget Negotiations
February 3, 2021
The actions of my Democrat colleagues this
week make it clear they have no intention of working with Republicans on a
bipartisan COVID package. There is no other explanation for the budget resolution
that was introduced this week.
We’re not considering this Budget
Resolution for the usual purpose of establishing overall spending and revenue levels
for the fiscal year. That has already been done. The sole purpose of this
budget is to establish reconciliation instructions, whereby the majority can
pass a partisan COVID package on a party line vote.
Embarking down this inherently partisan
path now poisons the well for any fruitful bipartisan negotiations. And it’s
completely at odds with President Biden’s call for unity and bipartisanship
during the campaign and his inaugural address.
But, it doesn’t have to be this way. My
Republican colleagues and I stand ready to engage in bipartisan discussions to
reach an agreement to provide targeted COVID relief.
A consensus package could be done very
quickly, just as happened with the bipartisan CARES Act last March. The relief package Congress passed in
December came together very quickly once both sides agreed to set aside
partisan poison pills.
In the past year or so, we’ve been able to
come together to pass around $4 trillion in COVID focused relief with strong
bipartisan support. There is no reason we can’t come together for the American
people once more.
Instead of wasting our time with a
week-long partisan exercise, we could be working together today to forge a
bipartisan compromise. If this was the course the majority were to take, I
think there is much we could agree to with near universal support in short
Everyone recognizes we need to get control
of the virus as a first priority. That’s necessary to save lives and get back
to anything close to resembling a normally functioning economy.
Rapid deployment of the vaccine is our
best hope to get there. I doubt a single member of this body would object to
additional funds for vaccine distribution if it will get more people vaccinated
I’m also confident many on my side could
agree to additional relief for individuals and small businesses that have been
hardest hit by the pandemic. We can have a discussions on unemployment
assistance, rental assistance, funds for reopening schools and additional
grants to small businesses to help them keep the lights on.
But any relief must be targeted and
focused on the task at hand.
At $1.9 trillion the President’s proposal
is far from targeted or focused. It includes permanent liberal structural
economic reforms. This is about using a crisis to enact long-term Democrat
policy priorities rather than addressing the immediate needs of the day.
It also includes a bailout of fiscally
irresponsible states at the expense of states have managed their budgets wisely,
like my home state of Iowa. That is fundamentally unfair to the taxpayers in
responsibility governed states.
The President putting forward his proposal
should have marked the beginning of discussions, not the end. If my Democrat
colleagues would abandon this partisan exercise, bipartisan discussions could
start in earnest.
This may mean you have to compromise on
some priorities, but that is simply part of life around here if you want to get
The excuse that there isn’t enough time,
or the need for relief so urgent, that bipartisanship must go out the window is
just that, an excuse.
By following the current path, this entire
week is being wasted on partisan theater with no tangible benefit for the
At the end of the week, the Senate will be
no closer to drafting actual relief legislation. We should instead be working together
to iron out our differences to get bipartisan relief to the American people now.