Weekly Columns

Congress worked together to provide quick relief to families, businesses and the medical community in the early stages of the COVID-19 health emergency. Americans are relying on lawmakers to continue delivering assistance to help them meet the challenges they face as a result of this crisis. 

That’s why last month, I voted to advance a targeted bill focused on getting Americans back to work, back to school and back to some sense of normalcy. This path forward is built on commonsense policy ideas that have traditionally garnered widespread support in the Senate and strengthens measures Congress overwhelmingly approved in a bipartisan fashion earlier this year.

The Senate bill included additional funding for schools to support the safe return of students. It provided resources to help child care facilities stay open so parents can get back to work while having a reliable place to send their children, which is critical to economic recovery.

Our bill made reforms to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). This has been a vital lifeline for Arkansas small businesses during this crisis. It that has allowed millions of Americans to continue to receive a paycheck and helped businesses stay afloat. We want to authorize a second round of loans to qualifying businesses and simplify the loan forgiveness process for loans up to $150,000. 

Unfortunately, instead of delivering a positive result to American families, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer argued the bill didn’t go far enough and refused to negotiate on any realistic solutions that stand a chance of becoming law. He led efforts to prevent a thoughtful debate by using the filibuster to block consideration of the bill.  

Ironically, this senate procedure is in the crosshairs of leftwing advocates who are encouraging Democrats to eliminate the filibuster should they gain control of the Senate. Even former President Barack Obama recently called for it to be abolished.

This targeted relief bill would have offered crucial assistance to our communities, families, schools, small businesses and individuals in ways that most Republicans and Democrats actually support. This makes the minority’s filibuster all that much more disappointing and frustrating.

Now, Democrats are praising the recent House passage of a $2.2 trillion democratic wish-list masked as coronavirus assistance. This package is riddled with poison pills that have nothing to with the public health emergency or our economic crisis. Like the $3.3 trillion House legislation that failed to gain bipartisan support last spring, this bill is a non-starter. 

Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s bill allows illegal immigrants to receive stimulus payments, eliminates safeguards in the PPP that would prevent taxpayer money from bailing out Planned Parenthood and authorizes federalizing elections by putting unrealistic mandates on the way states must run elections. 

Americans are looking to Washington for solutions. It’s time for my colleagues from across the aisle to be realistic about negotiating a bill that both sides can agree to get behind. As this public health and economic crisis continues to play out, our policy efforts should focus on helping meet the immediate needs of families, the medical community and small businesses. We’ve established that we can work together on this issue in the past and I’m hopeful we can find common ground again.