WASHINGTON – House Committee on Oversight and Reform Ranking Member James Comer (R-Ky.) opened today’s markup chastising Democrats for their failure to work with Republicans on targeted relief for American families. The Democrats’ $2 trillion spending package rewards their political allies and pays for partisan projects, including a $350 billion bailout for state and local governments and a massive increase in benefits for federal workers.
In his remarks, Comer raises concerns that the Democrats’ spending package exposes taxpayer dollars to waste, fraud, and abuse and underscores it would ultimately hurt our economy and the people Democrats claim it would help.
Below are Ranking Member Comer’s remarks as prepared for delivery.
Even though we are not in session this week, and many of our Members had to be in their districts, I appreciate that today’s markup is hybrid. Hopefully, this will be the practice going forward, including when we are in session.
Let me begin my remarks by reminding our Members about this Committee’s mission: improving government efficiency and transparency by finding ways to reduce mismanagement, waste, fraud, and abuse.
Unfortunately, today’s markup strays very far from this mission.
We are here today to consider an entirely unnecessary and wasteful proposal. This Democrat drafted text sends over $350 billion to state and local governments. Over $350 billion.
This money is part of a $1.9 trillion reconciliation package, allegedly for COVID relief. This on the heels of 5 separate bipartisan relief bills totaling $4.1 trillion.
But there is no bipartisanship in this relief package. Not even an attempt. The Democrats hurriedly slapped together this massive bill behind closed doors ignoring real concerns with the $1.9 trillion price tag.
Those concerns are coming from economists and policy experts from across the political spectrum sounding the alarm on the size of this COVID relief bill. Chief among those concerns is that rather than stimulating the economy, this unnecessary cash infusion will cause inflation and a possible economic crash.
But those concerns have not been addressed in Congress. Just like Obamacare, this bill is being served up to Republicans without any attempt to find consensus.
We don’t even know how they arrived at $1.9 trillion. And for us here today, why $350 billion for state and local governments?
Congress already appropriated $150 billion in the CARES Act for state and local governments. And not all this money has been spent. Ohio has only used 72% of their CARES Act funds. New York City has only used 48.6% of their funds.
So this committee—the Oversight Committee tasked with protecting taxpayer dollars—is preparing to pay out an additional $350 billion while states already have access to $46 billion in unspent funds. This slush fund for locked-down states is ripe for waste, fraud, and abuse and is completely unnecessary.
On top of these facts, we know some states do not even need the money. Colorado Governor Jared Polis admitted he would use the funds for infrastructure and shovel-ready projects.
California Governor Gavin Newsom bragged on social media that his state has a $10.3 billion surplus.
Despite this surplus, California is still receiving an additional $41.2 billion in taxpayer dollars from this $350 billion slush fund, despite it still having access to roughly $4 billion in unused CARES Act funding.
And Ms. Holmes Norton will be glad to hear that D.C. has $526 million more than local lawmakers had anticipated. Madame Chair, I ask unanimous consent to place an article on this topic in the record.
Unfortunately, today’s markup is not about providing targeted COVID relief for struggling American families and public servants.
It is about Democrats shoving out billions of dollars to line the pockets of their political allies and pay for partisan pet projects.
The American taxpayers deserve better. They have been enduring a pandemic—with draconian lockdowns and school closures in blue and purple states. Parents and particularly mothers are left trying to figure out how to keep their businesses open and their children educated.
Rather than cynically taking advantage of their narrow majorities in Congress, Democrats should have reached out across the aisle to have real policy discussions. To make sure these dollars are targeted to those left most in need and vulnerable from the pandemic. Instead this bill provides more benefits to federal workers – a category of people who have kept their jobs during this pandemic. Our federal employees do not need additional benefits when so many Americans are struggling.
Democrats have refused to engage in a transparent and bipartisan process leaving these dollars vulnerable to waste, fraud, and abuse. Their reckless effort to push out this giant package will likely wreak havoc on the economy and fail to help those they claim they are trying to reach.