Chairman Scott Urges Colleagues to Vote Yes on the CARES Act
WASHINGTON – Today Chairman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott delivered the following remarks on the House floor urging his colleagues to vote in favor of the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act.
“Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I want to say to the Majority Leader that the hard work we’ve done is, to a large extent, due to the hardworking staff who have been up late at night doing this work, which usually takes months. It’s been just days, but they’ve been able to put this bill together.
“l rise with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support the CARES Act. As a result of the significant changes made over the past few days, this legislation now takes important steps to give students, workers, and families the support they need during this public health emergency.
“Many of the provisions of the bill fall within the jurisdiction of the Committee on Education and Labor.
“For example, one of our most important challenges is to help workers maintain their income, because losing a paycheck exposes workers and families to so many other problems. Yesterday, new unemployment claims soared to over 3 million, more than four times the previous record high.
“The CARES Act responds to this challenge by dramatically increasing unemployment insurance by an additional $600 a week for up to four months.
“This emergency unemployment insurance program also extends to self-employed workers—so-called gig economy workers—many of whom are not currently eligible for unemployment compensation because they are often misclassified as independent contractors rather than employees.
“And to my colleagues who have expressed concern that these benefits are more generous than paychecks earned by many low-wage workers, I would say that the problem is not with the bill, the problem is with the federal minimum wage, which has not been increased for more than a decade.
“The CARES Act also maintains access to health care. The bill specifically makes a $200 billion investment in hospitals, health systems, and health research. It also includes a requirement that all insurance policies cover the full cost of future vaccines within 15 days of the vaccine being officially approved
“Finally, the bill helps maintain students’ access to education. The CARES Act now has more than $30 billion in relief for students, educators, schools, and institutions of higher learning.
“For institutions of higher learning, it will provide financial relief to colleges and universities and also support grants to displaced students.
“For K-12 schools, it will provide help to educators to adapt to long-term closures, fund purchases of education technology for online learning, and provide equitable access to education for students with disabilities.
“The CARES Act moves us in the right direction, but it is important to recognize that this legislation is only a down payment on the relief that our communities will need in the weeks and months ahead. We must immediately start work on a fourth coronavirus response package that reflects the unprecedented scale of this crisis.
“The next package must include safety protections for frontline health care workers and emergency responders who are risking their lives every day.
“The next package must expand emergency paid sick leave and paid family and medical leave – without exemptions – so workers can take care of themselves and their loves ones without having to sacrifice their paychecks.
“And the next package has to ensure that Americans who are fighting the disease are not hit with costly medical bills afterwards. In the second response package, we established no-cost COVID-19 testing. This next package we have should extend that coverage to COVID-19 treatment as well.
“Mr. Speaker, it is critical for us all to understand that the CARES Act is not a stimulus package. It is a disaster relief effort that must continue for as long as it takes to ensure students, workers, and families can survive this crisis.
“I call on all my colleagues to support this legislation and I yield the balance of my time.”
Democratic Press Office, 202-226-0853
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