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May 12, 2020

WASHINGTON – Today, in a letter to House and Senate leadership, the Republican Study Committee (RSC) Budget & Spending Task Force expressed its opposition to any federal bailout of mismanaged state and local governments made under the guise of COVID-19 relief. The letter, led by Task Force Chairman Jim Banks (IN-03), is the 38th policy proposal released under the RSC’s pandemic-focused Conservative Framework for Recovery, Accountability, and Prosperity (click here for more information). Statements of support from conservative leaders with Heritage Action for America, FreedomWorks, and Americans for Prosperity can be viewed below.

In the letter, the Task Force argues “[s]uch bailouts would fail to directly address the immediate threat of the pandemic and carry with them a number of perverse incentives and consequences. For instance, they would reward states that have mismanaged their budgets, incentivize future bailouts and reliance on federal funding, invite a bailout of underfunded pensions, fail to push states to enact spending reforms, and feed the Left’s ultimate goal of consolidating power in the federal government rather than empowering states.”

Citing the hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars currently being directed to COVID-19 relief efforts, the Task Force notes “[a] direct federal bailout would also ignore the fact that state and local governments already have a variety of fiscal options available to ensure that they can continue to provide essential services to their citizens while also addressing the current pandemic.”

The Task Force also argues that “many of the states and localities that are making these requests have historically demonstrated a lack of respect for federal law and constitutional rights, and more recently a penchant for overly restrictive shutdown orders… A bailout of these jurisdictions would only serve to condone these actions and encourage economically oppressive restrictions on American people and businesses.

To view a signed copy of the letter, click here.

 

STATEMENTS

“Hoosier taxpayers should never be on the hook to bail out many years of mismanagement and poor leadership in states like Illinois,” said Task Force Chairman Banks. “They’ve made promises to workers with pensions and other benefits that they can’t keep. States like Indiana that are fiscally responsible shouldn’t be punished.”

“Rep. Banks and the RSC Task Force are absolutely right to oppose a federal bailout of state and local governments,” said Heritage Action for America Executive Director Jessica Anderson. “The federal government has already sent $320 billion in direct aid for coronavirus relief, and trillions more in indirect aid. Sending unrestricted money not related to coronavirus relief to states and cities would paper over past wasteful fiscal practices and encourage them to continue economically damaging lockdowns at a time when America should be working to reopen. Irresponsible state bailouts won’t help the economy recover — letting America get back to work will.”

"A direct bailout for state and local governments must be put entirely out of discussion,” said FreedomWorks President Adam Brandon. “If there is one thing that the right should agree on, it is that there is no circumstance under which states' fiscal irresponsibility should be aided and abetted by more fiscal irresponsibility from Congress. The RSC once again is taking charge on issues that matter, not only for our fiscal health, but for our Constitution's integrity."

“The national debt just exceeded $25 trillion – the last thing Americans need right now is to be on the hook for a trillion-dollar bailout to pay for decades of irresponsible policymaking,” said Americans for Prosperity Chief Government Affairs Officer Brent Gardner. “Another trillion-dollar boondoggle will only dig us deeper into this economic crisis and further erode our chances of a quick economic recovery. We applaud the RSC Budget and Spending Task Force for believing in order to rebuild a stronger economy you must remove barriers to growth and opportunity, not reward politicians who have made bad policy choices.”

May 1, 2020

WASHINGTON – Yesterday, in a letter to House and Senate leaders, a coalition of conservative leaders representing 18 free-market and grassroots organizations expressed support for the Budget and Spending Pillar of the Republican Study Committee’s Conservative Framework for Recovery, Accountability, and Prosperity. Those recommendations include offsetting future COVID-19-related deficits and implementing a long-term spending control mechanism (click here for more information).

The letter is signed by leaders from the following groups:
Heritage Action for America, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste, FreedomWorks, Taxpayers Protection Alliance, R Street Institute, Americans for Tax Reform, The Heartland Institute, Eagle Forum, Texas Public Policy Foundation, Independent Women’s Forum, Independent Women’s Voice, American Transparency, ForAmerica, American Conservative Union, National Taxpayers Union, ALEC Action, Taxpayers for Common Sense, and AMAC Action

Click here to view the full letter. An excerpt of the letter can be viewed below:

“Earlier this week, Republican Study Committee Chairman Mike Johnson and Representative Jim Banks, chairman of the RSC Budget and Spending Task Force, sent a letter to congressional leaders calling for offsets to future COVID-19-related spending and for a long-term spending control mechanism. We applaud and add our support to their efforts.

“The RSC has long been a voice of fiscal responsibility in Congress. In 2011, at the height of our nation’s focus on out-of-control spending, the RSC developed a three-part plan for lowering spending levels and reducing our debt. Known as ‘Cut, Cap, and Balance,’ their plan heavily influenced congressional leaders and played a large role in pushing Congress to adopt the Budget Control Act. While certainly not at the level of spending control necessary at that time, it had a positive impact on our overall spending for several years.”

 

Background

  • On April 27, the RSC released the Conservative Framework for Recovery, Accountability, and Prosperity. The proposal adapts more than a year of internal RSC policy development to provide Congress with a solutions-oriented, 37-point blueprint for leading America though the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing economic recovery. Click here for an overview of the full framework.
Apr 27, 2020

WASHINGTON – Today, the Republican Study Committee (RSC) – the largest caucus of conservatives in the House of Representatives – presented House and Senate leadership with its Conservative Framework for Recovery, Accountability, and Prosperity. The framework adapts more than a year of internal RSC policy development to provide Congress with a solutions-oriented, 37-point blueprint for leading America though the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing economic recovery. If enacted, RSC’s commonsense recommendations will help to:

  • Eliminate barriers to employment and get Americans back to work
  • Flatten the debt curve and protect the nation’s fiscal health
  • Hold China accountable for its harmful actions related to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Strengthen the U.S. health care system and ensure health care providers have the supplies they need
  • Improve efficiency and accountability in the federal government’s ongoing response to COVID-19   

RSC Chairman Mike Johnson (LA-04) issued the following statement:

“Prior to the coronavirus crisis, the Republican Study Committee invested fifteen months in building a lengthy playbook of commonsense, conservative solutions to solve many of our nation’s toughest problems. While the completion of that comprehensive publication has been paused temporarily, we have adapted much of that thought and valuable work product today to address the most immediate threat to the health and prosperity of the United States in generations--the COVID-19 pandemic. Now is the time for members on both sides of the aisle to work together to implement smart, effective policy solutions to the unprecedented challenge before us. With the Conservative Framework for Recovery, Accountability, and Prosperity, RSC has delivered to Congress a blueprint to lead our nation through this pandemic, help Americans get back to work, and revive the U.S. economy. We have no time to waste."

RSC’s Conservative Framework for Recovery, Accountability, and Prosperity is comprised of five pillars, representing the work of RSC’s five policy task forces. Below is a sample of key recommendations presented in each section:
 

RSC American Worker Task Force Pillar

Rep. Andy Barr (KY-06), Chairman

Objective: Advance conservative policies that support and empower American workers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Key Policy Recommendations (click here to view a detailed list of policy recommendations)

  • Enact the NEW GIG Act, by Rep. Tom Rice (SC-07), to create a safe harbor for gig economy workers to qualify as independent contractors for income and employment tax purposes.
  • Promote worker upskilling opportunities by allowing businesses to deduct their investments in education services for employees seeking career advancement.
  • Encourage states to eliminate unnecessary employment barriers by suspending occupational licensing requirements for health care workers across state lines, and enacting the Board Immunity Act, by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), to incentivize occupational licensing reforms.
  • Enact the RAISE Act, by Rep. Dusty Johnson (SD-At Large), to allow employers to pay individual workers more than is specified in a union contract, which could provide much-needed compensation during the current crisis and eventual economic recovery.
     

RSC Budget & Spending Task Force Pillar

Rep. Jim Banks (IN-03), Chairman

Objective: Provide Congress with a conservative blueprint to flatten the nation’s steeply climbing debt curve while it works to provide necessary COVID-19 relief.

Key Policy Recommendations: (click here to view a detailed list of policy recommendations)

  • Offset future COVID-19-related deficit spending.
  • Implement a long-term spending control mechanism that restricts growth of both mandatory and discretionary spending, does not rely on tax increases, and stabilizes our nation’s debt.
     

RSC National Security & Foreign Affairs Task Force Pillar

Rep. Joe Wilson (SC-02), Chairman

Objective: Hold the Chinese government accountable for any harmful actions it may have taken related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Key Policy Recommendations: (click here to view a detailed list of policy recommendations)

  • Authorize sanctions against any foreign official who is found to have been involved in a COVID-19 cover-up, as would be authorized by the Li Wenliang Global Public Health Accountability Act, by Rep. John Curtis (UT-03) and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR).
  • End all visas for Chinese government officials and their immediate family members to come to the U.S. whether for education, leisure or other purposes, until China retracts its statements blaming the U.S. for the virus.
  • Press the Chinese government to permit access to China for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to better respond to theCOVID-19 pandemic.
  • Undertake a congressional probe of the World Health Organization (WHO), its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and its relationship with China.
     

RSC Health Care Task Force Pillar

Rep. Roger Marshall, M.D. (KS-01), Chairman

Objective: Strengthen our health care system in a way that puts patients first, equips health care providers with the supplies they need, and fast-tracks the development of COVID-19 treatments.

Key Policy Recommendations: (click here to view a detailed list of policy recommendations)

  • Suspend the requirement that HSAs be tied to a high-deductible health plan (HDHP).
  • Establish a Pharmaceutical Chief Negotiator at the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to identify and address protectionist measures that could disrupt supply chains or freeload on innovative investments. 
  • Remove regulatory barriers to the production of drugs, pharmaceutical ingredients and medical devices in America to support the onshoring of manufacturing.
  • Further expand the availability of telemedicine services and encourage licensing reciprocity to allow for telemedicine delivery across state lines.
     

RSC Government Efficiency, Accountability & Reform Task Force Pillar

Rep. Greg Gianforte (MT-At Large), Chairman
Objective: Increase efficiency and accountability in the federal government’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Key Policy Recommendations: (click here to view a detailed list of policy recommendations)

  • Streamline hiring and optimize pay for high-skilled federal employees.
  • Enact the Eliminate Agency Excess Space Act, by Rep. Greg Murphy (NC-03), to ease the transfer of unused federal buildings to support health care workers serving on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Enact the Stopping Improper Payments to Deceased People Act, by Chairman Gianforte, to prevent the disbursement of COVID-19 Economic Impact Payments to deceased individuals.
  • Streamline the federal permitting and regulatory process to facilitate a speedy economic recovery.
Apr 26, 2020

WASHINGTON – Today, in a letter to House and Senate leadership, Republican Study Committee (RSC) Chairman Mike Johnson (LA-04) and RSC American Worker Task Force Chairman Andy Barr (KY-06) outlined a conservative blueprint to support and empower American workers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic (click here to view the signed letter). The proposal is one of five pillars that make up RSC’s 37-point Conservative Framework for Recovery, Accountability and Prosperity (click here for more information).

More than a year before the emergence of COVID-19, the Task Force began examining policy ideas and developing a plan to target the problems and factors that adversely affect America’s job market. As a result, the Task Force stands fully prepared in these unprecedented times to lead the effort in Congress to foster new opportunity and get Americans back to work.

To that end, the Task Force urges lawmakers from both sides of the aisle to work together to quickly implement the following worker-centric solutions to eliminate unnecessary barriers to employment and revive the U.S. economy:

  1. Enact the NEW GIG Act. The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the gig economy’s importance like never before and hit many of these workers particularly hard. At a time when many gig economy workers are struggling to make ends meet, Congress should reduce barriers that hinder them from making a living. One way to do so would be to enact the NEW GIG Act, sponsored by Rep. Tom Rice (SC-07). The bill would ensure that a worker is classified as an independent contractor for income and employment tax purposes so long as they meet three objective tests set forth by the legislation: (1) the worker is treated as an independent contractor and not an employee; (2) the customer is not treated as the employer; and, (3) if a third party facilitates payments and transactions, the third party is not treated as the employer.
     
  2. Promote Worker Upskilling Opportunities through Tax Deductibility. While federal tax policy allows for large deductions for some types of investment spending, these deductions are very limited for education services for workers, such as upskilling. The imbalance for these deductions harms workers and disincentivizes hiring and job training. Congress should equalize the tax treatment of all types of investment by allowing businesses to deduct their investments in education services for their workers that train them for higher employment. This would move the tax code further towards pro-growth optimization and would remove this harmful imbalance against employees.
     
  3. Enact the Restoring Board Immunity Act. Every day across the country, thousands of people are prevented from entering industries due to onerous occupational licensing laws. Members of the regulatory boards who establish the standards for the licenses are often members of the regulated profession. Moreover, strict occupational licensing laws are regressive making it difficult for “the most economically disadvantaged among us to acquire a license due to the time, fees, and education necessary to acquire one. The result is that millions of would-be workers are locked out of the workforce because they lack the means to obtain a license.” Thus, the Task Force recommends enactment of the Board Immunity Act, introduced by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), which would grant anti-trust immunity to actions by these boards only if they adopt reforms designed to prevent runaway occupational licensing restrictions.
     
  4. Suspension of Occupational Licensing Requirements for Health Care Workers Across State Lines. In the present health care crisis, occupational licensing barriers put up by states can mean life or death since key personnel cannot easily shift between outbreak epicenters. For nurses and doctors, their credentials are already certified by a trusted national organization in addition to states’ individual licensing boards. A number of states have already taken the wise step of reducing licensure barriers for practicing medicine within their borders. The Task Force stresses the importance of other states undertaking these actions as well.
     
  5. Enact the Working Families Flexibility Act. While many employees seek higher pay as their top priority, a growing number of American workers place a higher value on the ability to spend more time with family. During an emergency, employers may need certain workers to perform longer hours. Under current law, private employers are required to pay employees overtime at 1.5 the employee’s regular rate of pay, and do not have the opportunity to offer comp time instead. To provide employees with more options, the Task Force recommends implementing the Working Families Flexibility Act, introduced by Sen. Lee, to provide more flexibility for employers and employees with regard to compensatory time off. Under the bill, employers would have the option of offering comp time or overtime pay. Employees could voluntarily elect to receive comp time in lieu of overtime pay, which would empower employees to select the option that best fits their individual needs. This could allow employees significant time off that may be needed to address issues at home during the present crisis or in its aftermath. 
     
  6. Enact the RAISE Act to Reward High Performing Workers. In times of emergency, certain industries and their employees are in higher demand and endure higher levels of stress than normal. Under current law, union contacts set both a wage floor and a wage ceiling. As a result, individual workers cannot be given raises, including performance-based raises, by their employers. The Task Force recommends allowing employers operating under a union contract to award bonuses and pay raises to employees without having to obtain permission from union bosses. The Rewarding Achievement and Incentivizing Successful Employees Act (RAISE Act), introduced by Rep. Dusty Johnson (SD-At Large), would allow employers to pay individual workers more than is specified in the union contract, which could provide much- needed compensation during the current crisis and eventual economic recovery.
     

The Task Force also believes that innovative approaches to education policy and certain economic support programs will be crucial for easing many Americans’ transition from unemployment to a paycheck. To that end, the Task Force also recommends that Congress advance the following policy solutions:
 

  1. Enhance Portability of Housing Vouchers. Presently, portability restrictions on the Housing Choice Voucher program make it difficult for beneficiaries to use their benefit outside of the jurisdiction of their local Public Housing Authority (PHA). These restrictions can limit the ability of an individual to accept employment that would offer a path to self-reliance and economic stability, if the job offer requires the individual to move outside of their local PHA jurisdiction.  Congress should temporarily relax restrictions on Housing Choice Voucher portability, so that Americans who are economically displaced by government policies related to the COVID-19 pandemic may use vouchers to secure housing where they are able to secure job opportunities. Specifically, HUD should be temporarily required to grant portability requests, even when the 12-month residency requirement is not met, if the move is required for a new job (i.e., a “special family need”). Any costs that may be associated with this pro-work proposal can be addressed through the $1.935 billion in additional FY 2020 funding made available for Tenant-based Rental Assistance and the Public Housing Operating Fund in the CARES Act. Additionally, Congress should allow a certain portion of a recipient’s Section 8 vouchers to be used to cover moving expenses and to put down a security deposit to acquire housing. This expanded use would alleviate burdens on people who seek to move to new communities to better their economic livelihood and become more self-reliant.
     
  2. Extend Financial Aid Eligibility for Short-Term Programs. Congress should allow short-term career and technical education programs to access the same federal funding opportunities, especially Pell Grants, for which traditional four-year college students and long-term technical education program students qualify. In times of economic uncertainty, lawmakers should seek ways to afford Americans ample opportunities to develop their talents in a way that results in a meaningful career with less student loan debt. These faster programs could help more people transition from the swollen unemployment rolls into well-paid jobs much more efficiently and serve as a better response to crisis than traditional 4-year degree programs. In particular, the Task Force recommends enactment of the Pell Flexibility Act, introduced by Rep. Jim Banks (IN-03). 
     
  3. Allow Access to 529 Education Savings Accounts for Homeschooling Expenses. The COVID-19 outbreak revealed the relative weakness in the ability of many school systems to provide educational services and instruction while students are forced home. Parents have been required to fill the need with their own resources, which were already stretched due to the economic downturn. A smart and relatively easy-to-implement solution would be to allow Internal Revenue Code Section 529 educational savings plans to pay for these unexpected homeschooling expenses. Gaps in a student’s educational development can be detrimental and this could help many parents address critical homeschooling needs with funds already set aside for education.  
     
  4. Expand the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) Program under HUD. In times of crisis such as these, local public housing authorities may not be nimble enough, or may be too overwhelmed, to properly service their increased volume of requests. To encourage private investment in public housing, Congress should expand the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) Program and remove the statutory cap on the program to continue to allow housing authorities to leverage public and private debt and equity to reinvest in public housing stock. Congress should also explore other ways to increase the rate of voluntary conversions by PHAs of their public housing units to voucher-based housing.  
     
  5. Ensure an All-of-the-Above Approach to Ending Homelessness. Congress should not allow this crisis to further prevent successful providers of homelessness assistance from serving their communities. The CARES Act includes language preventing homeless service providers funded by the HUD Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) program from requiring program participants to utilize supportive services (e.g., job training, financial literacy, substance abuse treatment). This excludes emergency shelter programs and faith-based organizations who successfully rely on a model of accountability. Data suggest an exclusive reliance on the ‘Housing First’ model may not be as successful as a comprehensive approach that includes wraparound services. Congress should embrace an all-of-the-above approach, and direct funding through a competitive process based on history of transitioning people out of homelessness. Additionally, Congress should reject efforts by some to cancel HUD’s Continuum of Care (COC) grant competition in a veiled effort to require an exclusive reliance on ‘Housing First’ policies. 
     

STATEMENTS

“As the U.S. economy begins to reopen, Congress should be doing everything in its power to help American workers get back on their feet and into jobs,” said Johnson. “America’s workers are the backbone of our nation. It is their strength and determination that built this country, and it is their faith and optimism that holds it together. All they ask for is a fair shot at a useful education, dignified work, and a hand up when times are tough. Congress can ensure these things by working together to enact the smart, conservative solutions presented by the American Worker Task Force.”

“This past year, I led the American Worker Taskforce in developing policy initiatives to strengthen workforce development, improve resources for and flexibilities for education, and increase opportunities for American workers and families,” said Barr. “Thank you Chairman Johnson and my colleagues on the Taskforce who worked with me on these efforts. The policies outlined in this proposal are timely, and will help provide a partial road map to engineer the great American comeback for workers, families, and businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Apr 26, 2020

WASHINGTON – Today, in a letter to House and Senate leadership, Republican Study Committee (RSC) Chairman Mike Johnson (LA-04) and RSC Budget & Spending Task Force Chairman Jim Banks (IN-03) outlined a conservative blueprint for Congress to flatten the nation’s steeply climbing debt curve while it works to provide necessary COVID-19 relief (click here to view the signed letter).

The proposal is the latest in a long line of RSC policy products aimed at eliminating debt and deficits, including “Cut, Cap, and Balance” and the annual RSC budget. It is also included as one of five pillars in RSC’s 37-point Conservative Framework for Recovery, Accountability and Prosperity (click here for more information).

In the letter, the Task Forces urges careful consideration of America's dangerous level of national debt as it works to provide relief to families and businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Task Force warns that, without action, additional deficit spending combined with a nosedive in federal revenues due to an economic downturn will be a significant threat to the future stability and prosperity of the nation.

In an effort to offer Congress a solution to protect the physical AND fiscal health of our country simultaneously, the Task Force is issuing two critical policy recommendations:

  1. Congress should offset future COVID-19-related deficits. Given the present fiscal crisis, the thought of any more debt-financed spending seems unimaginable. This is especially true considering the enormous burden our debt will already place on Americans for generations to come. For this reason, Congress should offset the debt impacts of any further COVID-19-related legislation. The RSC Budget & Spending Task Force’s FY 2020 budget “Preserving American Freedom” contains more than $10 trillion in specific programmatic deficit reducing reforms. There are more than enough recommendations contained in the budget to ensure that if further COVID-19 legislation is needed, it be carried out in a way that does not jeopardize the solvency of our republic. Reforms contained in the budget range from thoughtful, long-term approaches to contain entitlement spending to those designed to eliminate irresponsible federal spending on items such as the Kennedy Center, Brand USA, the Forest Products Laboratory, the Legal Services Corporation, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and the Stennis Center, among many others.
     
  2. Congress should implement a long-term spending control mechanism. The last time the Congress took deliberate action to address our national debt was nearly ten years ago when it enacted the Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011, which sought to reduce federal spending by over $1 trillion. The BCA was enacted in the wake of the Great Recession and after two consecutive years of deficits over $1 trillion. Given the BCA’s expiration at the end of next fiscal year and impending multi-trillion-dollar deficits, it is critical that Congress act to control our out-of-control spending. Any new mechanism should include restrictions on the growth of both mandatory and discretionary spending, avoid reliance on tax increases, and stabilize our nation’s debt. The Task Force supports enacting a mechanism that would limit the annual growth of future spending to 60 percent of the growth in federal revenues (which would itself be capped as a percentage of GDP). Another debt-stabilization approach is a “debt brake” that ties spending to potential GDP, as the Maximizing America’s Prosperity (MAP) Act, sponsored by Rep. Kevin Brady’s (TX-08), would accomplish. Moreover, the RSC’s budget proposes a number of tools that each would contribute to the long-term stabilization of the national debt. For instance, it recommends automatic votes to consider the deficit reductions offered in a budget resolution, expanding the reconciliation process to include on and off-budget items and discretionary spending, requiring super-majority votes for emergency spending, and expanding mandatory sequestration.

STATEMENTS

“Protecting the physical health of Americans doesn’t have to jeopardize the fiscal health of our nation. As RSC’s Budget & Spending Task Force has shown, with the right mix of offsets and spending controls, we can do both,” said Johnson. “Americans are a resilient people. The question isn’t if our economy will recover from this pandemic, it’s when. The sooner Congress finds the resolve to deal with the $24 trillion national debt weighing us down, the sooner we’ll return to prosperity.”

“Congress must offset debt impacts of COVID-19 legislation by passing a new, fiscally responsible budget that shrinks government to a more proper size,” said Banks. “The good news is we have one we could pass right now. My colleagues and I on the Republican Study Committee introduced a budget last year that’d balance the budget in six years, rein in federal spending and cut waste. Our children and grandchildren shouldn’t be stuck with this burden.”

Apr 26, 2020

WASHINGTON – Today, in a letter to House and Senate leadership, Republican Study Committee (RSC) Chairman Mike Johnson (LA-04) and RSC National Security & Foreign Affairs Task Force Chairman Joe Wilson (SC-02) outlined 10 conservative policy recommendations designed to hold the Chinese government accountable for any harmful actions it may have taken related to the COVID-19 pandemic (click here to view the signed letter). The proposal is one of five pillars that make up RSC’s 37-point Conservative Framework for Recovery, Accountability and Prosperity (click here for more information).

In the letter, the Task Force references numerous allegations that have been publicly made against China, including that it concealed critical information about the virus, silenced whistleblowers, and engineered the spread of misinformation about COVID-19 – going so far as to push blatantly false and dangerous claims that the virus was created by the U.S. military.

The Task Force also raises concerns about and urges an investigation of China’s influence within international institutions such as the World Health Organization (WHO), which have defended China’s response to the pandemic.

The Task Force warns that failing to investigate and hold the Chinese Communist Party accountable for actions found to have hidden or exacerbated the COVID-19 pandemic would be a mistake. To that end, it recommends that Congress quickly take the following specific actions:

  1. Authorize sanctions against any foreign official who is found to have been involved in a COVID-19 cover-up, as would be authorized by the Li Wenliang Global Public Health Accountability Act, sponsored by Rep. John Curtis (UT-03) and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR).
     
  2. End all visas for Chinese government officials and their children to come to the U.S. whether for education, leisure, or other purposes, until China retracts its statements blaming the U.S. for the virus.
     
  3. Counter Chinese propaganda and disinformation efforts by enacting H.R. 1811, the Chinese Government and Communist Party's Political Influence Operations Act, sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). This bill directs the Department of State to devise a long-term strategy to counter the Chinese government's political influence operations and requires a report on Chinese influence operations in the U.S.
     
  4. Prohibit the distribution of China Daily, a publication owned by the Chinese Communist Party, to congressional offices and require the Department of Justice to investigate China Daily’s compliance with the Foreign Agents Registration Act. China Daily plays an important role in China’s ongoing disinformation efforts and yet is delivered to congressional offices alongside American newspapers.
     
  5. Limit the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) exception for academic activities to apply only if the activities do not promote the political agenda of a foreign country. This would ensure that Confucius Institutes, which are Chinese government-controlled language institutes on U.S. college campuses, are not used to promote Chinese political narratives. Also, reduce the threshold required for universities to disclose foreign contributions from $250,000 to $50,000. Both proposals are included in the Foreign Influence Transparency Act, introduced by Chairman Wilson.
     
  6. Press the Chinese government to permit access to China for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to better respond to COVID-19 pandemic.
     
  7. Require the State Department to investigate the disappearance of three Chinese citizen journalists who sought to expose the impact of the coronavirus on the Chinese city of Wuhan and enact sanctions on those found responsible for the disappearances under the Global Magnitsky Act, as requested in a letter authored by Rep. Jim Banks (IN-03).
     
  8. Undertake a congressional probe of the WHO, its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and its relationship with China. Build off President Trump’s funding freeze by basing future federal funding decisions on the results of congressional and administration investigations along with adoption of reforms to instill independence, transparency, and accountability at the WHO.
     
  9. Ensure Taiwan’s membership in the WHO by passing H.R. 237, sponsored by Rep. Ted Yoho (FL-03), to direct the Secretary of State to deliver a strategy to Congress regarding how the U.S. will work to regain observer status in the WHO.
     
  10. Enact H.R. 2744, the USAID Branding Modernization Act, sponsored by Rep. Michael McCaul (TX-10), to authorize USAID to use American branding and insignia when providing foreign assistance. China has taken advantage of the crisis to distribute foreign assistance throughout the world using its own branding which makes it even more imperative that U.S. assistance is branded.
     

STATEMENTS

“When faced with the initial outbreak of the novel coronavirus, China's communist regime made the deliberate choice to spread misinformation, suppress facts, and silence whistleblowers – misleading not only its own citizens about the severity of the virus, but the entire world,” said Johnson. “America has paid dearly during this pandemic, both in lives and livelihoods. If that is found to be a direct result of China’s actions, the Chinese government must be held accountable. The most effective way to do that would be for Congress to follow recommendations put forward by the RSC National Security & Foreign Affairs Task Force.”

“China’s lies and incompetence in responding to the Wuhan Virus outbreak cost thousands of lives throughout the world. The first victims have been the innocent people of China itself who are restrained by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) denying them basic freedoms and human rights,” said Wilson. These lies have also exposed the Chinese Communist Party’s campaign of disinformation and malign influence in international institutions as well as here in the U.S. as official Chinese outlets have spread the outrageous conspiracy theory that the virus originated in a U.S. army lab. China has used the World Health Organization and other international institutions to help it in its cover-up and has worked to silence American colleges and universities through the malicious influence of Confucius Institutes on college campuses which are silencing criticism of the CCP.

“The American people will not tolerate the CCP’s lies any longer. The time has come to be tough on China and push back against its campaign of lies and disinformation. The RSC Foreign Affairs and National Security Task Force hopes that Congress can move this collection of common-sense policies to hold China accountable for its direct role in this pandemic.”

Apr 26, 2020

WASHINGTON – Today, in a letter to House and Senate leadership, Republican Study Committee (RSC) Chairman Mike Johnson (LA-04) and RSC Health Care Task Force Chairman Roger Marshall, M.D. (KS-01) released nine conservative policy recommendations to provide the U.S. health care system with the stability and flexibility it needs to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic (click here to view the signed letter). The proposal is one of five pillars in RSC’s 37-point Conservative Framework for Recovery, Accountability and Prosperity (click here for more information).

The recommendations – which build on innovative, private sector-driven successes achieved through the elimination of onerous regulatory barriers – aim to strengthen our health care system in a way that puts patients first, equips health care providers with the supplies they need, and fast-tracks the development of COVID-19 treatments. 

More than one year before the emergence of COVID-19, RSC’s Health Care Task began examining innovative policy ideas to shift power in the U.S. health care system away from government bureaucrats to patients and doctors. As a result of that work, which culminated with the Oct. 2019 release of the RSC Health Care Plan, the Task Force stands fully prepared in these unprecedented times to offer Americans an alternative to hastily-drawn proposals that ignore the well-documented failures of big government, single-payer systems in the United Kingdom and Italy.

To that end, the Task Force urges lawmakers from both sides of the aisle to work together to quickly implement the following innovative solutions to unleash the full potential of the U.S. health care system in the fight against COVID-19:

  1. Suspend the requirement that HSAs be tied to a high-deductible health plan (HDHP).
     
  2. Have the FDA fast-track the approval here of any device or drug already approved to test for COVID-19 in one or more allied countries.
     
  3. Establish a Pharmaceutical Chief Negotiator at the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to identify and address protectionist measures that could disrupt supply chains or freeload on innovative investments.  This new official would also use enforcement tools against foreign governments that exploit protectionist measures to devalue and impose price controls on American innovation.
     
  4. Remove regulatory barriers to the production of drugs, pharmaceutical ingredients and medical devices in America to support the onshoring of manufacturing and reduce financial risk for manufacturers who relocate or expand production capacity in the United States. Allow businesses to fully and immediately expense their investments in research and development and physical capital.
     
  5. Utilize EUREKA prize competitions to incentivize the rapid development of a therapeutic drug or drugs to treat COVID-19 now and in subsequent waves.
     
  6. Suspend the ban on new physician-owned hospitals (POHs) to allow for hospital supply to catch up with the rapid uptick in demand for hospital services.
     
  7. Encourage states to suspend certificate-of-need laws which restrict the ability of hospitals and hospital systems to add capacity, which can have devastating effects during a crisis.
     
  8. Direct the Federal Aviation Administration to relax federal restrictions on drone deliveries of medical supplies.
     
  9. Build upon the CARES Act and efforts of the Trump administration to further expand the availability of telemedicine services and encourage licensing reciprocity to allow for telemedicine delivery across state lines.
     
  10. Ensure that new funding, subsidies, tax credits, and reforms cannot be used to provide access to elective abortions.

 

STATEMENTS

“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that innovative health care policies which put patients and doctors first can mean the difference between life and death,” said Johnson. “The solutions put forward by the RSC Health Care Task Force will build on those lessons by cutting red to tape to fast-track treatments and get our health care heroes the equipment they need to do their jobs and return home safely to their families. I hope my colleagues from both sides of the aisle will work us to put these recommendations into action as soon as possible.”

“Our health care providers have been at the forefront of this pandemic and will remain a vital part of our country’s ability to reopen and defeat this virus,” said Marshall. “As a physician I have volunteered my time, working alongside other providers in treating patients with the virus and seeing just how hard our doctors and nurses work every day to help others. As we continue to ask our health care industry to lead this charge, we cannot allow government bureaucracy and red tape to slow our use of tests and treatment for COVID-19. Unleashing the power and innovation of our nation’s health care system will be instrumental in the long-term health of our nation and the success of our fight against the virus.”

Apr 26, 2020

WASHINGTON – Today, in a letter to House and Senate leadership, Republican Study Committee (RSC) Chairman Mike Johnson (LA-04) and RSC Government Efficiency, Accountability, and Reform (GEAR) Task Force Chairman Greg Gianforte (MT-At Large) outlined a conservative blueprint to increase efficiency and accountability in the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic (click here to view the signed letter). The proposal is one of five pillars that make up RSC’s 37-point Conservative Framework for Recovery, Accountability and Prosperity (click here for more information).

The Task Force’s proposal builds upon its Feb. 2020 government reform plan – Power, Practices, Personnel: 100+ Commonsense Solutions to Better Government – to advocate for policies which will empower the federal workforce, optimize the utility of existing government facilities, and streamline federal rules to facilitate our nation’s economic recovery.

In light of those objectives, the Task Force urges members from both sides of the aisle to work together to ensure any future legislation related to COVID-19 advances the following ideas:

  1. Streamline Federal Hiring and Optimize Pay for High-Skilled Employees. The challenge of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic has brought out the best in many of America’s federal personnel. These patriotic civil servants, along with countless experts in the private sector and generous volunteers, have done their best to respond to an extraordinary global crisis. Still, the need for more highly trained and specialized workers to join the federal ranks has been made apparent. The CARES Act specifically waived the Title 5 federal hiring requirements for the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to allow for streamlined hiring. This commonsense provision must be expanded. Thus, the Task Force recommends that federal managers across government be empowered to recruit and hire the most talented individuals who can fill these vital roles to ensure our workforce is better equipped for emergency response. The Task Force also recommends reform of the General Schedule (GS) wage scale to allow for improved compensation for individuals with critical skills and the expanded use of meritorious bonuses to reward excellent performance by federal employees.
     
  2. Enact the Eliminate Agency Excess Space Act. Beyond unleashing the federal workforce, the government should optimize the utility of existing federal infrastructure to combat COVID-19. In particular, the Task Force recommends enactment of the Eliminate Agency Excess Space Act, sponsored by Rep. Greg Murphy (NC-03). This bill would eliminate antiquated laws that limit the sale, lease, or donation of federal office space. This simple reform would ease the transfer of unused federal buildings to support health care workers serving on the front lines of the COVID-19 crises.
     
  3. Enact the Stopping Improper Payments to Deceased People Act. The CARES Act provides standard Economic Impact Payments of $1,200 for many Americans. The Task Force urges that these funds be administered carefully to minimize the chance of fraud or waste that plagues other government programs. Particularly relevant is the fact that in 2015 the Social Security Administration Inspector General found 6.5 million deceased individuals who were still active recipients of Social Security benefits. Because current recipients of Social Security benefits will not be required to file an abbreviated tax form to receive the $1,200 tax rebates, there is reason for concern that these payments will be made to deceased individuals. Thus, the Task Force recommends the enactment of H.R. 2543, Stopping Improper Payments to Deceased People Act, introduced by GEAR Chairman Rep. Greg Gianforte (MT-At Large) and Rep. Cheri Bustos (IL-17). This legislation would grant all federal agencies the same access to the death data base and would require states to share their death data with the Social Security Administration. This would remove the gaps in data that lead to countless dollars being wasted on improper payments to deceased individuals.
     
  4. Streamline the Permitting Process. While the federal government continues to focus on combatting the COVID-19 pandemic, it is also important it consider how to best facilitate a speedy economic recovery by streamlining government regulatory processes. We cannot allow government red tape to unnecessarily slow down job creation, project management, and private investment. Specifically, the Task Force urges enactment of two important pieces of legislation: (1) the Critical Habitat Improvement Act, a bill that would require critical habitat designations be made only with land where the Secretary of the Department of Interior (DOI) has identified what elements are necessary for the survival of an endangered species, thus limiting burdensome restrictions on land use; and (2) the Federal Permitting and Jobs Act, a bipartisan bill that would streamline National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by creating a two-year deadline for agencies to finalize permitting


STATEMENTS

“In the best of times, cutting red tape and streamlining the federal bureaucracy saves time and money. In the worst of times – as we’ve seen during this pandemic – it can also save lives and livelihoods,” said Johnson. “Under President Trump’s leadership, our federal agencies and patriotic civil servants have accomplished extraordinary things over the past few months. With the reforms and recommendations put forward by the GEAR Task Force, we can ensure they are even more effective in the fight against COVID-19. These are commonsense solutions that should have been adopted a long time ago. I hope can Congress can work together to enact them without any further delay."

“As America continues to confront the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout, the federal government should implement common sense reforms to improve its response, keep Americans healthy, and safely get them back to work as soon as possible. Folks across our country are hurting and struggling because of this outbreak. The federal government has a responsibility to increase its efficiency and accountability as it addresses this public health crisis,” said Gianforte. “I urge members of Congress from both sides of the aisle to join us to improve the federal government’s response, protect Americans’ health and safety, and help us come out of this stronger than we were before.”