Brown to His Senate Colleagues: Let’s Deliver for the People We Serve
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), incoming chair of U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, took to the Senate Floor to urge his colleagues to pass a budget resolution and provide real relief for working families.
Brown’s remarks on the Senate Floor, as prepared for delivery, are below:
This debate is really about one simple question: are we going to do whatever it takes to get our country through a once-in-a-generation crisis?
Today I joined some of my colleagues in the White House to talk with President Biden about the urgency to get this done, and his plan that will finally start to make real progress against the pandemic, and make a real difference in people’s lives.
The American people made it clear in this election that they want a government that’s on their side.
This is our chance to deliver for them.
We know we can – we did it last spring. We came together, across the aisle, and we passed the CARES Act, with expanded UI and direct stimulus checks.
We kept 13 million people out of poverty, and we gave millions more peace of mind, with a bit of a cushion to weather this crisis.
Now some of my colleagues want to say, “we’ve done enough.”
But tell that to the 92 percent of Americans who haven’t gotten a vaccine yet.
Tell that to the parents who are wondering when it will finally be safe for their kids to go back to school.
Tell that to the laid-off restaurant worker, wondering if they’ll be able to pay rent and pay the electric bill this month.
Tell that to the bus driver wondering if she’s going to lose her job.
We are the greatest, wealthiest country on earth. Doing the bare minimum isn’t good enough.
Slowly vaccinating people – when we know we’re facing new, more contagious virus variants – isn’t good enough.
Letting our economic recovery limp along, instead of roaring back, isn’t good enough.
Luckily, we finally have real leaders who aren’t willing to settle for less.
President Biden is already doing everything possible to ramp up vaccine production, to get new COVID tests onto the market, to keep people in their homes, and to keep workers from losing their jobs.
We need to give the president and our leaders in states all over the country every tool this country has.
Our plan will put money directly in people’s pockets, with the expanded stimulus checks we promised, and with tax cuts for workers and families, through expanded EITC and CTC.
And as Chair of the Banking and Housing Committee, I’m committed to keeping a roof over people’s heads, getting lifelines to small businesses, keeping our buses and subways running and workers on the job, and giving President Biden every tool possible through the Defense Production Act, to get more vaccines to more people.
Our plan will help us dramatically expand American manufacturing through the DPA, to produce vaccines and PPE and more and better tests.
We’ll help state and local communities prevent layoffs and service cuts.
Essential workers often need buses and subways to get to work in hospitals and grocery stores – we need those transit systems running, and running safely. And we need to keep bus drivers and construction workers on the job.
Our plan will get more support to small and minority-owned businesses.
We know the biggest corporations have done better than ever during this pandemic. Amazon, Walmart, Comcast, all the big guys have done just fine – and they’ve paid their shareholders and done stock buybacks.
But we have all seen the restaurants close in our neighborhoods – some that had been operating for decades – and watched the corner stores and the dry cleaners shut their doors.
Small businesses are hurting, and our plan will not only keep PPP going, but it will also expand access to capital for the small entrepreneurs fighting for their dreams right now.
Our plan will keep families from losing their homes, and help them pay the bills, and keep the heat running and the lights turned on.
In December, one-in-10 homeowners reported that they were behind on their mortgage. For Black, Latino, and Asian homeowners, it’s more than one-in-six.
And one of out every five renters in this country is behind on rent. For Latino renters, it’s one-in-four. For Black renters, it’s one-in-three.
Think about the daily stress that puts on people.
Moratoriums on evictions on foreclosures help keep people safe in the short run, but they’re not enough for all the people who are behind, with no way to catch up.
Economists estimated that renters already owed $57 billion in back rent as of January. That’s more than twice the aid we provided for renters in December.
How can we let millions and millions of families lose the home they love or get trapped in a downward spiral of debt, all because of a virus far beyond any one person’s control?
So I ask my colleagues of both parties – let’s get this done. There’s no time for quibbling over Senate procedure.
Working families don’t care about the Senate rules. They care about when they can get a vaccine and when their kids can go back to school and whether or not they can keep their jobs.
They don’t care how we get it done, they care about results.
The Senate has used these fast-tracking budget measures over and over, in times far less dire than the ones we face now.
Minority Leader McConnell had no problem doing this in 2017 to pour money into corporations’ coffers with their tax cut.
But now he claims we can’t afford help to everyone else.
We didn’t win WWII by worrying about whether or not we could afford it.
We were in a global crisis, and we marshaled all of our vast resources and talent to rise to meet it – and then we grew the economy from the middle class out, and we paid down the debt with rising wages.
Americans elected new leaders because they were tired of a president and a majority leader who refused to treat this war with the same urgency.
People are tired of being told: “we can’t do it, we can’t afford it, we’ve done enough.”
Let’s aim higher. Let’s deliver for the people we serve.
Let’s raise the stimulus checks to $2,000 – money that will make such a difference for so many families.
Let’s cut taxes for working families.
Let’s keep people in their homes and keep small businesses open.
And let’s get every American a vaccine that will save their life.
That’s the decision before the Senate.
Let’s come together, let’s pass this, and let’s make a real difference in people’s lives.
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