In March, while there was still so much uncertainty about how our country would respond to the coronavirus, cities and states all over the country locked down, millions of Americans lost their jobs, kids finished the school year from home, many Americans fell ill, and, tragically, far too many lives were lost.
At the time, we were grappling with many unknowns. We had a lot to learn about the nature of the coronavirus – how to stop its spread, how to detect it, how to treat it, and to prepare to fight a deadly pandemic for the long haul.
To address this emergency, Congress passed three bills, collectively spending more than $3 trillion, providing immediate financial support to Americans who had lost their jobs, to small businesses, and to federal, state, and local governments to contain the spread of coronavirus. At a time of crisis, Congress came together and passed needed relief legislation to deal with a deadly new pandemic.
Now, we face a new challenge.
Over the past six months, states have been slow to re-open their economies despite the fact we have flattened the curve, we now know our hospitals will have sufficient capacity, and we know better how to combat the coronavirus. As a result of sustained mandated shutdowns, more than 28 million Americans remain out of work, and GDP has shrunk by 9.5%.
Keeping our economy shut down and keeping millions of Americans out of work is not only unsustainable, it poses a grave threat to our country’s economic future. Getting our economy going again is critical. The longer we wait to reopen the economy the harder it will be for Main Street to rebound and for our country to recover.
But instead of trying to look for solutions and getting the economy back on track, Democrats want Congress to pass the more than $3 trillion HEROES Act, which would keep the economy stalled and prevent kids from safely returning to school this fall. The Democrats’ bill also contains a host of leftist dream projects, including blocking deportations of illegal immigrants, letting criminals out of prison, and granting banking perks to the cannabis industry.
What we should focus on instead is getting people safely back to work. That’s why, as members of Congress came back to Washington, I introduced the Reinvigorating the Economy, Creating Opportunity for every Vocation, Employer, Retiree & Youth Act, or RECOVERY Act for short.
To create jobs and get Americans safely back to work, the RECOVERY Act would expand Covid-19 testing, deliver meaningful tax relief to employers and employees, bring supply chains back to the United States, and eliminate burdensome regulations that hurt small businesses. It would also give Americans who stopped saving for retirement this year the ability to make “catch-up” contributions and to restore their nest egg if they took a distribution from their retirement plan to cover expenses.
Further, the RECOVERY Act would expedite the FDA approval process for Covid-19 vaccines and treatments approved in other countries. It would also empower states to approve and distribute diagnostic tests. The RECOVERY Act would also help get our kids back to school safely by providing parents the choice and flexibility they need to support their child’s learning, and by allowing educators and local leaders to establish guidelines to address the unique needs of their communities.
With the RECOVERY Act, I’m urging my colleagues in Congress to focus on getting Americans safely back to work and getting our economy moving again. Letting the Democrats dictate the terms of the next phase of relief legislation will only deepen the economic devastation we’ve seen and make it more difficult for small businesses to keep their doors open and rehire the millions of hardworking men and women who have lost their jobs.
The American people need a recovery bill with long-term, sustainable solutions, not a pork-laden spending bill that will inevitably lead to more temporary relief efforts down the road. Failing to deliver the right legislation will have devastating consequences for generations to come. Frankly, the American people deserve better.
Ted Cruz is a U.S. senator for Texas.