“We need to do something for our first responders and front line workers.”

By on July 17, 2020 in Featured News, News

Stivers Underscores Priorities for Next Round of Coronavirus Relief  

WASHINGTON, DC — On Wednesday afternoon, The Ripon Society held a virtual discussion with U.S. Rep. Steve Stivers (OH-15). As the Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Committee’s Housing, Community Development and Insurance Subcommittee, and as co-chair and co-founder of the Congressional Civility and Respect Caucus, Stivers — pictured above speaking at an event in 2017 — outlined what he sees as the most essential issues to address in the next round of coronavirus response legislation – and why it will take cooperation between the two parties to get it done.  

“Republicans and Democrats alike share a common goal and that’s ensuring that our communities and our people come back from this pandemic even stronger than ever before,” Stivers stated. “And that’s why Congress has passed several bipartisan bills with the idea of dealing with two problems: this public health crisis and the fallout from intentionally shutting down our economy to keep people safe. 

“I was excited that last week’s jobs numbers were better than expected. It’s great to add 4.8 million new jobs, but we still have unacceptably high unemployment at 11.1%. That’s double digit unemployment, higher than anything we saw in the 2008 crisis – and this is after a meaningful comeback. We’ve got a long way to go and there’s still a lot of people that are chronically unemployed and businesses and sectors that may not open for a while.”

According to Stivers, he hopes that the fast-approaching August recess – and the prospect of keeping legislators in Washington until the work is done – will spark new negotiations between Republicans and Democrats.

“Here’s what I hope we can put together in the next package. Number one, liability reforms for businesses and folks as they try to reopen. Number two, I think we need to support our state and local governments and our education institutions as they grapple with all this. We passed $150 billion of aid in the CARES Act, but it was tied to coronavirus expenditures only. There’s still about 80% of that money still available, and at the very least we could untie those strings on that remaining money and let it be spent on revenue losses. I think it would be a major help to our States and local governments.

“I also think we need to do something for our first responders and front line workers, our folks who’ve been working through this entire period. There’s a bill that I cosponsored that Congressman Bill Huizenga (MI-2) and a few Democrats have authored, which would essentially treat them like we treat our soldiers when they are deployed. I deployed for our country from 2004-2005. And while I was deployed in a combat zone, I didn’t have to pay any federal income tax. I think we should go back and do that for those front line healthcare workers and essential workers during the early times of this coronavirus when they were the only ones working and give them a little bit of help.”

Stivers also touched on the priorities he and his Financial Services Committee colleagues are focusing on as part of the COVID-19 response.

“Obviously we’ve been focused on the impacts on homeowners and renters. There was a moratorium on foreclosures and a moratorium on evictions for a period of time in the CARES Act that runs out here shortly. I think we need to take a look at the forbearance provisions that were in the CARES Act and figure out if they’re working. I think they’re working pretty well, but we also might need to look at what we can do for the chronically unemployed people to make sure they can continue to stay in their homes with a temporary rental assistance program or something like that. 

“Unfortunately we live in a very hyper-partisan environment right now in a presidential election year, but it’s really important that we do all this coronavirus response, in my opinion, in a bipartisan way, if it’s really going to become law. We have a Democrat controlled House, a Republican controlled Senate, and a Republican administration. The only things that are going to get done between now and the end of the year are things that are done in a bipartisan way. I think that is in the best interest of the American people too.

Following his opening remarks, Stivers took a number of questions, including one about the prospect of Congress approving liability protections for businesses operating or seeking to reopen amidst the global pandemic.

“I think the best thing we can do is create some basic standards that businesses have to follow as part of this liability protection,” the Ohio lawmaker explained. “I want to protect people from being sued when they take every reasonable precaution, but I want them to take every reasonable precaution to protect their employees. And I think we should create some basic standards that they have to follow to look after their employees and then provide them some legal protections in exchange for that. I think that’s a reasonable trade off – especially for the small business people I talk to. They are dying for some guidance as to what they can do or should do to protect not only their employees, but their customers.”

Stivers – who previously served as the Chairman of the NRCC – was also asked about the electoral landscape this fall, how Republicans will fare in House races, and what we can expect from the Buckeye State in particular.

“I think we have a path to take back the majority,” he declared.  “We will pick up seats, in my opinion. And if you want to know where the playing field is, look at where the DCCC and the NRCC have purchased ads. The DCCC is almost exclusively on defense right now. It’s going to be really hard to pick up seats if they’re not spending money on offense. 

“It’s hard for us to get the net 17 seats we need, but not impossible. There are I think 30 Democrats sitting in seats that Trump won. I believe Trump will win most of those seats again and it’s hard for me to believe that those people will come out and vote for Trump for president and a Democrat for Congress.”

Stivers continued.

“We have a path to the majority, but money is a concern for some of our candidates who have great stories to tell. If they don’t have enough money to tell their story, they’re going to get swamped and it’s going to be tougher for them. We’ve recruited more women than any time in history this cycle, we’ve got a lot of veterans, we’ve got great minority candidates. 

“The good news in Ohio, for most of our incumbents Republican and Democrat, is there’s not a lot of big challenges for any of our incumbents. And for the presidential race, I would have told you originally that if anybody but Biden became the nominee, Trump wins by 10 points. If Biden’s the nominee, Trump wins it by five points. Maybe Trump only wins it by three or four now, but I feel confident Trump is not only ahead in Ohio, but will win Ohio.”

The Ripon Society is a public policy organization that was founded in 1962 and takes its name from the town where the Republican Party was born in 1854 – Ripon, Wisconsin.  One of the main goals of The Ripon Society is to promote the ideas and principles that have made America great and contributed to the GOP’s success.  These ideas include keeping our nation secure, keeping taxes low and having a federal government that is smaller, smarter and more accountable to the people.   

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