“We should vote for workers, we should vote for recovery, and we should vote to beat this thing and come out stronger on the other side.”

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Senator Sasse's floor speech is available here or by clicking the image above.

Tonight, as the Senate considers important coronavirus relief legislation, U.S. Senator Sasse spoke on the Senate floor in favor of his pro-worker, pro-recovery amendment introduced with Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Tim Scott (R-SC), Rick Scott (R-FL), and Ted Cruz (R-TX). The amendment would fix the bill’s perverse incentive to increase unemployment.

“Everybody on both sides of the aisle tonight wants to help workers,” said Sasse. “This bill has lots and lots of good stuff in it. I intend to support it as well, but there are pieces of this bill that are broken and that we can fix tonight. And if we don't fix them tonight, it’s going to exacerbate our problems and we're going to be back here in a month and in two months trying to fix these problems… Here’s what’s wrong about the bill: As it’s currently drafted, is threatens to cripple the supply chain for many different categories of workers, some in healthcare, some in food prep and food delivery. This bill as currently drafted creates a perverse incentive for men and women who are sidelined to then not leave the sidelines and come back to work… So, we want to do something really simple. We want to simply fix what's broken here by saying that unemployment insurance benefits should be capped at 100% of the pay you had before you were employed… We should vote for workers, we should vote for recovery, and we should vote to beat this thing and come out stronger on the other side.”

The amendment would make sure that aid goes to unemployed Americans who need help without creating a perverse incentive for Americans to not work. The amendment simply says that unemployment benefits cannot exceed more than the amount of wages that an individual previously earned. 

Sasse's full remarks are available here and found below.

As Senator Tim Scott just said and as Rick Scott and Lindsey Graham just said, this amendment is really, really simple. All we're trying to say is that we should help everyone who needs to be helped without us accidentally creating a disincentive to work. That's not good for anybody in the country or the country as a whole. 

We’re in the middle of two unprecedented crises right now. We have a public health crisis and we have an economic crisis into which we're just entering and we don't know how long the valley of this recession is going to be, but I want to be sure that every American who is watching tonight understands exactly what this debate has been about this afternoon. This is how you can be both pro-worker and pro-recovery. To be kind and charitable and actually also simultaneously affirming the ongoing dignity of work and the necessity of work as our country battles through this virus and ultimately rebuilds our economy

Nobody is here is arguing about whether or not we should help workers. 

Everybody on both sides of the aisle tonight wants to help workers. 

This is a debate about whether or not we’re going to let a poorly drafted bill knock this nation still harder in the coming months by unintentionally increasing unemployment. That's what this debate is about. 

Right now, as the coronavirus is threatening our economy, we know who the real heroes are. The real heroes are not politicians. There are a lot of people that have been working all night five or six nights in a row, but the heroes that are going to beat this virus and rebuild America are not politicians.

The heroes are the men and women who are stocking shelves.

The men and women who are picking up trash.

The men and women who are driving trucks and delivering takeout, many of them converting restaurants which used to be sit-down into take out restaurants, putting food on the table for a lot of their neighbors. 

The Americans who are keeping pharmacies open - they are the heroes. 

The daycare workers who are doing stuff to watch other ER doctors’ kids. Those are the heroes. 

The heroes are the Americans across all 50 states, across every town, and village, and state, and suburb, and city that are doing the work, the ordinary jobs but now under extraordinary painful and difficult circumstances.

They’re the heroes, the scrappers and the doers and we should be celebrating them, affirming them, and helping them once we get through this crisis to get back to work. This bill has lots and lots of good stuff in it. I intend to support it as well, but there are pieces of this bill that are broken and that we can fix tonight. And if we don't fix them tonight, it’s going to exacerbate our problems and we're going to be back here in a month and in two months trying to fix these problems. 

These are the Americans who are going to get us through. They’re the people who are going to keep our supply chains alive and those supply chains are the lifeline for lots of Americans right now.

Here’s what’s wrong about the bill: As it’s currently drafted, is threatens to cripple the supply chain for many different categories of workers, some in healthcare, some in food prep and food delivery.

This bill as currently drafted creates a perverse incentive for men and women who are sidelined to then not leave the sidelines and come back to work. This bill creates a perverse incentive for many employers who should be wanting to try to maintain the employer-employee relationship, it creates a perverse incentive for them to sever that employer- employee relationship.

Many other pieces of this bill try to tackle this problem in a really constructive way. The $350 bill for the Small Business Administration, it is trying to build bridge loan programs that help employers and employees be connected and remain connected through this downturn. The unemployment insurance piece of this should not work at cross purposes to what the bill is about in the overall argument. 

Nobody has a problem with the generous unemployment benefits that are in this bill. Nobody has a problem with generous unemployment insurance benefits that are in this bill. They should be generous amid the national crisis that we're in.

But, we don't want this piece of the bill to create an incentive for folks to stop working, to have their employers push them away when the employer and employee should be trying to rally with and around and together to help us build through this crisis.

So, we want to do something really simple. We want to simply fix what's broken here by saying that unemployment insurance benefits should be capped at 100% of the pay you had before you were employed. This isn't just about people who have already been made unemployed. This is about people who are going to be made unemployed in the coming weeks. All this amendment says that we're voting on in a few minutes is that we should cap the unemployment benefits at 100% of the wages you were just receiving while working.

It should not be something the U.S. Congress does to create an incentive where you'll get paid more by not working than you get by working.  That’s pro-recovery legislation that tries to keep our supply chains humming and tries to help us together - 325 million Americans- come together to beat this thing. We should vote for workers, we should vote for recovery, and we should vote to beat this thing and come out stronger on the other side.