Duncan on Partisan COVID-19 Relief Package

February 12, 2021
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Jeff Duncan (SC-03) issued the following statement regarding the House Energy and Commerce Committee markup on COVID-19 relief budget reconciliation legislation:

“The House Energy and Commerce Committee wrapped up a two-day long full committee markup where we debated a “COVID-19 relief” package that is part of the sham budget reconciliation bill. This markup was nothing but another partisan exercise. Democrats are once again using the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to further their radical policy agenda. They have touted this legislation as “COVID-19 relief,” when in reality, there are numerous provisions unrelated to the pandemic. For example, the Democrats are using this process to expand Medicaid, eliminate Hyde amendment protections, and bail out Democrat-run states that were already having trouble balancing their budgets prior to COVID-19.

“Republicans offered several amendments to the underlying bill, many of which Democrats openly agreed with, but voted against regardless. A few examples of bipartisan Republican amendments that were offered include providing more transparency in the COVID-19 vaccine distribution process, increased testing and vaccinations for our nation’s teachers, funding for youth suicide, mental health funding for states that have suffered unexpected job loss due to actions of the Biden Administration, and holding states that have undercounted nursing home deaths accountable.

“Additionally, I offered two amendments to the underlying bill, one to ensure illegal immigrants do not jump the line to get the COVID-19 vaccine before American seniors, healthcare workers, teachers, and those with underlying health conditions, and another that would prohibit the Executive branch from issuing a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing to protect American jobs and businesses, and to keep energy prices low, especially as we seek to recover from the pandemic. These Republican amendments all failed on party line votes.

“The reconciliation process is a partisan way to do business, as it only requires a simple majority in the Senate for the bill to pass by avoiding the Senate filibuster. Therefore, it is hard to imagine why a COVID-19 relief package would be part of a reconciliation bill when Congress was able to pass five bipartisan COVID-19 relief bills in 2020 under the Trump Administration. It is disappointing that Democrats are now choosing to pursue a hyper partisan process that will allow them to move their radical priorities along without Republican support instead of focusing on tailored, bipartisan policies that better the health of our nation, support American businesses and create jobs, and get our kids back in the classroom.”