Issue Toolkit:

Coronavirus Legislation Toolkit

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Background information

Although the coronavirus was unexpected, the Left has quickly adapted and used the pandemic to push their radical agenda. As President Obama’s former Chief of Staff infamously said, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” That’s exactly what the Left has done and is trying to do with the current piece of coronavirus legislation being debated.

Before we look at the current debate, it’s helpful to understand how we got here:

A Legislative Timeline

1) The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (HR 6201) was passed in early March to the tune of $8.3 billion--most of which was directed toward vaccine development and public health funding. To be clear, the bill wasn’t perfect. However, Republicans in Congress were able to move this legislation in a direction that better meets the needs of Americans without increasing the federal government’s footprint in their lives or increasing spending permanently.

2) Then in late March, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (HR 748), a $2 trillion stimulus bill that was a mixed bag of good, bad, and some things in between.

Policies that were detrimental included $200 billion in crony bailouts and a $600 weekly bonus unemployment insurance subsidy. This $600 weekly UI subsidy has proved especially damaging to small businesses and the economy, as many workers are incentivized to remain on unemployment, instead of returning to gainful employment.

The CARES Act also included policies of good intent, but questionable impact and effectiveness, such as the $1,200 direct payments to Americans.

Lastly, the CARES Act also included the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)—a critical program to provide $350 million in short-term, forgivable small business loans to prevent employee layoffs. The PPP enabled workers to continue receiving paychecks, to maintain their health insurance, and to quickly return to work once stay-in-place orders were lifted.

3) The PPP proved such a success, that it quickly ran out of funding. In early June, Congress passed the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020 (HR 7010) to provide an additional $250 million in funding. This came only after much obstruction and delay from Democrats who tried to include a Leftist bailout for state and local governments in the deal. Fortunately, conservatives won the day, and a bailout was not included.

4) Having lost this last policy battle, Nancy Pelosi passed a symbolic $3 trillion bill in the House that had no hope of being passed in the Senate. This bill never became law, but made clear the policies that liberals would push for in any final coronavirus package.

It contained:

  • $915 billion in bailouts for state and local governments.
  • Interfering with states’ election rights by requiring states to adopt vote-by-mail and undermining voter ID standards.
  • Stimulus payments for illegal immigrants.
  • $50 million for environmental justice grants .
  • An extension of the $600 bonus UI subsidy until January 2021.

The Current Fight

Congress is now debating a further coronavirus relief package. Conservatives must stand strong against the Left’s attempt to include radical policies.

We must play both defense to block liberal priorities, while playing offense to push forward beneficial policies.

Bailouts for State and Local Government – These bailouts could cost federal taxpayers $1 trillion and would reward poorly managed states for their failed budgets. For instance, bailouts tend to go to pay for states’ old debt, unfunded pensions, and vanity projects. In fact, New York’s current budget already plans to use bailout money to fund high-speed rail and a renovation of downtown Buffalo. Federal taxpayers and those who live in well-managed states shouldn’t be on the hook for the spending boondoggles of irresponsible states.

>>> Conservatives should oppose a federal bailout of state and local governments.

$600 Weekly UI Subsidy – The measure enacted under the CARES Act gives most unemployed individuals a substantial pay raise for not working. As reported in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Daily Signal, and NPR, many businesses have struggled to reopen because their workers prefer to remain unemployed and collect the $600 weekly UI subsidy (supplemental to states’ existing UI payments).

This subsidy was supposed to be temporary in nature, and is set to expire at the end of July 2020. Liberals are now pushing to either extend this weekly $600 subsidy until January 2021, or worse, enshrine it as part of a new, permanent federal unemployment program.

>>> Conservatives should oppose an extension of the $600 weekly UI subsidy and let it expire at the end of July.

Surprise Medical Billing and Price ControlsSurprise medical billing is an issue, but the cure should never be worse than the disease. Liberals are pushing for the heavy hand of government to impose Soviet-style price controls on the healthcare market. But having government bureaucrats dictate prices will not make health care more accessible to those who need it.

The conservative solution is to require medical providers to disclose prices upfront and implement a set of market reforms as outlined by The Heritage Foundation.

>>> Conservatives should oppose price controls and push for 1) price disclosures, 2) penalties on insurers and providers for supplying false or misleading information about a facility’s network status, and 3) banning balance billing at non-network emergency departments.

Liability Protections – Congress should extend liability protections for churches, schools, and businesses that reopen. It’s past time for churches, schools, and businesses to reopen in much of the country — the Left wants to keep them closed, and will use the power of the courts to punish them if they can. Liability protections will help the country to reopen and recover quickly from the pandemic.

>>> Conservatives should support liability protections for churches, schools, and businesses

Talking Points

  • State bailouts waste taxpayer money while rewarding mismanaged states at the expense of responsible ones. According to the Heritage Foundation, “No state or local government will need to declare bankruptcy just because of COVID-19. Rather, if states or municipalities do face insolvency, it will be the result of decades of fiscal mismanagement.

  • Congress should not extend the $600 weekly UI subsidy. This subsidy slows America’s return to normalcy by providing unemployed individuals a pay raise and disincentivizing them from returning to gainful employment. Extending this subsidy could cost America trillions of dollars in payments and lost productivity and destroy our economic recovery.

  • Conservatives should reject big-government price controls. The cure should never be worse than the disease and Soviet-style price controls won’t heal America’s healthcare system. We need a free, open, and transparent marketplace.

  • To address surprise medical billing, Congress should mandate healthcare price disclosures and other market reforms proposed by The Heritage Foundation.

  • Liability protections for schools, congregations, and businesses are necessary to reopen American society and recover from the coronavirus pandemic. The Left wants to keep these organizations closed for political reasons and will not hesitate to use the power of the courts to punish them if they can. Liability protections shield Americans from this attack on their personal liberty.

Call Notes

My name is [NAME] from [CITY AND ZIP CODE] and I am calling [MEMBER OF CONGRESS] to address the current coronavirus-related legislation.

Any legislation should be targeted and temporary, only focused on the impact of COVID-19. Now is not the time to pile on unrelated spending or include an unrelated political agenda.

Specifically, I urge [MEMBER OF CONGRESS] to:

  1. To oppose a federal bailout of state and local governments that could cost federal taxpayers $1 trillion dollars and would reward poorly managed states for their failed budgets.
  2. To oppose the continuation of the $600 pandemic unemployment insurance subsidies that have discouraged Americans from returning to work and could potentially cost the U.S. trillions of dollars in payments and lost productivity, destroying our economic recovery.
  3. To oppose government-mandated price controls in our healthcare marketplace. Only through an open, transparent marketplace can Americans receive the cutting-edge treatments they need without a surprise bill at the end. To fix surprise billing, we need to require price disclosures and greater information transparency from medical providers.
  4. To support liability protections for schools, churches, and businesses to reopen in much of the country—America needs to return to normalcy, but many will be reluctant to do so as long as they could fall prey to aggressive lawsuits.

Thank you for passing along my message to [MEMBER OF CONGRESS]. Have a good day.

Social Posts (remember to insert the social handle of your member)

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.[@member], I urge you to oppose any coronavirus legislation that provides state & local bailouts, continues the $600 UI subsidy program, or imposes government price controls on the healthcare industry.

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.[@member] state & local bailouts could potentially cost me (the federal taxpayer) trillions of dollars so that the federal government can reward poorly managed states for their failed budgets. Please vote NO on state bailouts!

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.[@member] The current coronavirus $600 UI subsidies disincentivize employment, encourage unemployment, and make it difficult to reopen the American economy. Congress should discontinue the program.

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The Left is using the coronavirus pandemic to push socialist price controls on the American people. Congress should oppose any type of price controls in future coronavirus-related legislation.

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The Left wants to keep schools, congregations, and businesses closed. This is why Congress should support liability protections to encourage the country to reopen and recover quickly from the pandemic.

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Okay, Congress, here’s what you need to get done: - Oppose state/local bailouts - End the $600 UI subsidy - Oppose surprise billing and government price controls - Support liability protections for schools, churches, and businesses

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