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When Due Diligence Gave Way to Expedience

Wisdom & due diligence gave way to expedience & fear on Friday night in the House of Representatives. To bring everyone up to speed…

LAST WEEK I voted in favor of $8.3 billion in emergency funding to help various agencies combat the Coronavirus. Without question, that was an appropriate and necessary vote based on what we currently know. THIS WEEK on a different front, the House was to consider legislation to help Americans affected by the disease. So… two separate measures, each with its own objective in the Coronavirus battle.

What we needed from this second bill was a strong, well-reasoned approach to helping Americans and their employers deal with this pandemic. Instead, this bill gave us some good things but took a very bad turn with language that could DEVASTATE small businesses and, ultimately, millions of Americans who work for them. Specifically, I’m talking about overbearing paid sick leave provisions that many small businesses simply cannot afford. It could CRIPPLE a major source of jobs.

Let me be clear: I support many provisions in this bill, but I voted no because I will not support legislation that so recklessly jeopardizes the employers of almost half of the American workforce. Especially at a time like this, when many companies may experience sharp declines in revenues for the next month or two. There are SIGNIFICANTLY better ways this bill could have covered sick leave for those affected by the Coronavirus without requiring cash-strapped businesses to front the money. But none of those were openly discussed!

What’s even worse is that the House wasn’t even on a deadline last night! The Senate isn’t likely to consider this bill until Tuesday, so we had a few days to make this better. We had time to consult a variety of experts, to debate various options, and to refine the bill. The House failed to do any of that.

Instead, we received the final version of the 100+ page bill shortly after midnight, and voting began about 20 minutes later. There’s not one Member of the House who was able to read or fully grasp the final version of that bill before the vote closed shortly before 1 AM this morning. I lost count of the number of Representatives who had deep concerns about this provision but voted in favor anyway out of concern over the optics of voting against. This is no way to run a country, especially during a time like this.

Friends, part of REAL leadership is taking the time to do something right, especially when we can’t afford to be wrong. It means fully understanding what we’re voting on and not relying on someone else’s talking points. It also means being willing to take the heat from critics, particularly those who haven't the first clue.

When the Senate takes up this bill soon, I hope they will keep the good elements intact, but modify the provisions that are almost certain to further harm our economy. The spirit of this law seeks to provide economic security during (what will hopefully be) a short period of insecurity. We can do that without jeopardizing small businesses and those who rely on them to put food on their families’ tables.

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