(Senate - June 11, 2020)

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[Pages S2934-S2936]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


      By Mr. THUNE (for himself, Mr. Braun, Mr. Grassley, Mr. Rounds, 
        and Ms. Ernst):
  S. 3938. A bill to extend Federal guidance concerning the use of 
certain alcohol-based hand sanitizer during the coronavirus public 
health emergency, and for other purposes; to the Committee on Health, 
Education, Labor, and Pensions.
  Mr. THUNE. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the text of 
the bill be printed in the Record.
  There being no objection, the text of the bill was ordered to be 
printed in the Record, as follows:

                                S. 3938

       Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
     the United States of America in Congress assembled,


       This Act may be cited as the ``Hand Sanitizer Guidance 
     Extension Act of 2020''.


       (a) Extension of Federal Guidance.--The Food and Drug 
     Administration guidance entitled ``Guidance for Industry: 
     Temporary Policy for Preparation of Certain Alcohol-Based 
     Hand Sanitizer Products During the Public Health Emergency 
     (COVID-19)'', initially released on March 23, 2020, and 
     updated on April 15, 2020, and on June 1, 2020, shall remain 
     in effect until the date that is 2 years after the date of 
     enactment of this Act.
       (b) Effect of Extension.--During the 2-year period 
     described in subsection (a), the Food and Drug Administration 
     shall permit the production, sale, and use of hand sanitizer, 
     consistent with the guidance described in subsection (a), 
     provided that such hand sanitizer is manufactured using only 
     the following ingredients in the preparation of the product:
       (1)(A) Subject to subsection (c), alcohol (ethanol) that is 
     not less than 94.9 percent ethanol by volume; or
       (B) United States Pharmacopeia grade isopropyl alcohol.
       (2) United States Pharmacopeia grade or Food Chemical Codex 
     grade glycerin (glycerol).
       (3) Hydrogen peroxide.
       (4) Sterile water meeting United States Pharmacopeia 
     specifications for purified water.
       (c) Ethanol Produced in Certain Facilities.--Ethanol 
     produced in facilities normally producing fuel or technical 
     ethanol may be used as described in subsection (b)(1)(A) only 
     if such ethanol--
       (1) meets United States Pharmacopeia or Food Chemical Codex 
     grade requirements;
       (2) has been screened for any other potentially harmful 
     impurities not specified in the United States Pharmacopeia or 
     Food Chemical Codex requirements; or
       (3) has otherwise been approved for use by the Food and 
     Drug Administration.
       (d) Automatic Extension.--The effective period of the 
     guidance described in subsection (a) shall automatically be 
     extended for 1 additional year if the Secretary of Health and 
     Human Services determines that a public health emergency 
     exists at the time that the 2-year period described in 
     subsection (a) expires.
       (e) Exemption.--If the Commissioner of Food and Drugs 
     determines that a public health emergency requires that the 
     requirement for the use of denatured alcohol be reduced, or 
     requires a waiver of any other requirement with respect to 
     hand sanitizer under the guidance, the Commissioner of Food 
     and Drugs may waive or reduce such requirement, as 
  Mr. THUNE. Mr. President, like most other sectors of our economy, 
agriculture has taken a huge hit from the coronavirus. The pandemic has 
caused significant market volatility, sending many commodity futures 
prices plummeting.
  Increased consumer demand for beef led to significant increases in 
boxed beef prices, while cattle prices plummeted, which led to 
significant gaps between cattle producer and packer profit margins. To 
make the situation worse, temporary closures and reduced processing 
capacity at U.S. meatpacking plants as a result of the virus further 
diminished demand for livestock and depressed prices. This has 
aggravated an already difficult situation for farmers and ranchers.
  Unlike the majority of the economy, which was thriving before the 
coronavirus pandemic, the agricultural economy has been struggling for 
a while. Low prices, extended trade disputes, and natural disasters 
have meant a tough few years for farmers and ranchers even before the 
coronavirus hit. Now things are even more challenging.
  Agriculture is the lifeblood of my State of South Dakota. So 
supporting farmers and ranchers during the crisis has been one of my 
top priorities. I fought to get agriculture relief money included in 
the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act, or the CARES Act, 
which was signed into law in late March. The final bill included $14 
billion to replenish the Commodity Credit Corporation to allow the 
Department of Agriculture to provide income and price support for 
farmers and ranchers, plus an additional $9.5 billion in emergency 
support for agricultural producers affected by the pandemic.
  Days after the bill passed, I led a bipartisan group of Senators and 
Representatives in a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue 
urging him to use a portion of the funds to provide support for hard-
hit cattle producers. In mid-April, the Department of Agriculture 
responded to that letter and other petitions by announcing that it 
would issue $16 billion in direct payments to agriculture producers 
affected by the virus. Signups for this funding began at the end of 
May, and, as of June 8, South Dakota agriculture producers had received 
approximately $80 million.
  Over the past 2 months, I kept in constant contact with the 
Department of Agriculture and others to amplify producers' concerns and 
to urge swift relief. I have also been focused on developing additional 
legislation to help farmers and ranchers weather this crisis.
  Last week, I introduced legislation to allow emergency haying and 
grazing on Conservation Reserve Program acres for the duration of this 
crisis. Under current law, ag producers can hay or graze their CRP 
acres during weather-related disasters without a reduction in their CRP 
payments. My legislation would extend that provision to cover 
pandemics, including the COVID-19 pandemic.

[[Page S2935]]

  Thanks to low prices and a reduction in capacity of meatpacking 
plants as a result of the pandemic, farmers and ranchers are having to 
hold on to their livestock for longer than expected. This bill would 
help ensure they have adequate forage for their animals.
  Earlier this week, I introduced another bill, the Paycheck Protection 
for Producers Act, which would help more farmers and ranchers benefit 
from the Paycheck Protection Program. The coronavirus relief 
legislation that we passed in late March established the Paycheck 
Protection Program, which provides forgivable loans to small businesses 
to help them keep their employees on their payroll during this crisis. 
Self-employed Americans, which describes many farmers and ranchers, are 
eligible for these loans, but, in practice, the program's guidelines 
have excluded a lot of agricultural producers.
  Low commodity prices and a challenging planting season meant that 
many farmers and ranchers had a negative income in 2019. And right now, 
the program's guidelines excludes farmers and ranchers without 
employees with a negative net income for last year. My legislation 
would allow more farmers to access the Paycheck Protection Program by 
allowing them to use their 2019 gross income instead of their 2019 net 
income when applying for a loan. I am hoping to get both of these bills 
through Congress in the near future.
  In addition to direct relief, another thing that we can do to support 
our Nation's agriculture producers is to support the ethanol industry. 
Ethanol and biodiesel producers buy up a significant amount of American 
corn and soybean oil, but decreased demand for fuel as a result of 
coronavirus has significantly diminished this crucial market for our 
farmers, and that is why, in addition to direct relief measures for 
farmers and ranchers, I have also focused on what we can do to support 
the ethanol industry.
  American ethanol has stepped up to help during the coronavirus crisis 
by providing ethanol or alcohol for hand sanitizer. Thanks to the FDA's 
temporary policy for preparation of certain alcohol-based hand 
sanitizer products during the public health emergency, qualifying 
ethanol can be used as an alcohol content in hand sanitizer.
  I imagine there are few Americans who haven't significantly stepped 
up their purchase of hand sanitizer during the current crisis. In 
addition to measures like social distancing and mask wearing and 
frequent hand washing, it is key to preventing the spread of the virus. 
When water and soap are not immediately available, hand sanitizer can 
step in as a substitute. We need a steady supply of hand sanitizer to 
help curtail virus transmission.
  To help us meet this need and support our Nation's ethanol producers, 
today I am introducing the Hand Sanitizer Guidance Extension Act of 
2020. Put simply, my bill will extend the FDA's temporary ethanol-based 
hand sanitizer policy for at least 2 years. This will give ethanol 
producers that have made investments or changes in operations to meet 
the need for hand sanitizer a longer time to recoup their investment 
  I recognize that there is ongoing deliberation with the FDA about 
denaturants and other accepted chemical limits for hand sanitizer 
ethanol, and my bill would not hinder those discussions. My bill would 
simply provide ethanol producers with a baseline of certainty while 
still allowing the FDA to make case-by-case approvals and to waive or 
reduce other requirements as necessary to meet the public health 
  Now, the amount of ethanol required for hand sanitizer is just a drop 
in the bucket for our ethanol producers, and I am committed to finding 
additional ways to bring this clean American-grown fuel to market. 
Every little bit helps, and this legislation will at least give a small 
measure of certainty to producers while helping to meet the nationwide 
demand for hand sanitizer.
  The coronavirus crisis has highlighted just how much we rely on our 
Nation's agriculture producers. I am grateful every day for their work, 
and advocating for them will continue to be one of my top priorities. I 
am committed to helping our farmers and ranchers through the challenges 
they are facing and seeing our Nation's agricultural economy thrive.
      By Mrs. FEINSTEIN (for herself, Mr. Schumer, Mr. Blumenthal, Mrs. 
        Gillibrand, Mr. Markey, and Ms. Harris):
  S. 3946. A bill to require certain helicopters to be equipped with 
safety technologies, and for other purposes; to the Committee on 
Commerce, Science, and Transportation.
  Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Mr. President, I rise today to introduce the 
``Helicopter Safety Act.''
  On January 26, 2020, a helicopter carrying nine Californians flew 
into foggy weather, ultimately crashing minutes later. Los Angeles and 
the world soon learned that among the crash victims were basketball 
legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna.
  And in the time since, we have learned the names and stories of John, 
Alyssa, and Keri Altobelli; Sarah and Payton Chester; Christina Mauser; 
and Ara Zobayan. These were spirited friends and family members 
connected by their love of sport, traveling to a weekend basketball 
  The sudden and shocking nature of the accident touched many, and I 
have been moved by the public remembrances in Los Angeles and elsewhere 
in honor of the victims.
  But this tragedy is one that could have been averted. While the 
National Transportation Safety Board is still investigating the 
incident, a preliminary report indicates the helicopter was flying 
through thick clouds and fog, yet was not equipped with a terrain 
awareness and warning system among other safety technology. This 
technology provides pilots real-time, in-flight warning signals and an 
image of surrounding terrain.
  Since 2006, the National Transportation Safety Board has recommended 
to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that all new and existing 
helicopters capable of carrying six or more passengers be equipped with 
terrain awareness and warning system technology. However, FAA has only 
required these warning systems for air ambulances.
  The lack of a terrain awareness and warning system left the pilot 
vulnerable, without an adequate understanding of his surroundings. This 
technology has become standard on new helicopters from Airbus, Bell, 
Leonardo, and Sikorsky since December 2018.
  This bill also requires crash-resistant flight data and voice 
recorders. Otherwise known as black boxes, this technology is important 
for when accidents do happen and mistakes are made. It would allow 
agencies like the NTSB to have a better understanding of the incident 
and provide more information to the FAA to prevent future accidents.
  It is clear that additional steps are needed to ensure that 
helicopters can fly safely, both for the sake of passengers and those 
on the ground. Our bill offers a commonsense approach to preventing 
further accidents like this one. It would simply direct the FAA to 
implement the National Transportation Safety Board's recommendations to 
require terrain awareness and warning systems and flight data and voice 
recorders on all helicopters carrying six or more passengers.
  I appreciate the hard work of the National Transportation Safety 
Board in developing these important recommendations, and it is long 
past time that the FAA heed its call.
  My thoughts continue to be with the victims and their loved ones 
impacted by this heartbreaking accident. Our bill would help prevent 
future tragedies like the one that occurred this past January and it is 
critical that Congress pass it swiftly to ensure that such loss of life 
was not in vain.
  Thank you, Mr. President. I yield the floor.
      By Mr. KAINE:
  S. 3947. A bill to amend the provisions relating to the higher 
education emergency relief fund to clarify the flexibility provided to 
institutions and for students under the fund, and for other purposes; 
to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.
  Mr. KAINE. Mr. President, on March 27 Congress passed the Coronavirus 
Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act in response to the 
ongoing public health and economic crisis resulting from the COVID-19 
pandemic. The CARES Act included a Higher Education Emergency Relief 
Fund, which

[[Page S2936]]

provided nearly $14 billion in funding to ensure institutions of higher 
education could make the transition to distance learning, provide 
students with essential supports and resources, and cover the enormous 
costs they've incurred during this time. Unfortunately, the 
Administration has not followed Congress' intent to provide these 
colleges and universities with the increased flexibility they need to 
meet the needs of their students.
  This is why I'm introducing the Coronavirus Relief Flexibility for 
Students and Institutions Act, which would fix several implementation 
issues with the higher education funds in the CARES Act by providing 
institutions of higher education and students with the flexibility 
Congress intended. This bill would make an additional 7.5 million 
students eligible for emergency financial aid by expanding eligibility 
beyond just those who have filled out a FAFSA and are eligible under 
Title IV of the Higher Education Act. Additionally, it would allow 
institutions of higher education to use CARES Act funds to cover 
revenue losses incurred as a result of COVID-19, rather than limiting 
the funding to the U.S. Department of Education's narrow interpretation 
that funds can only be used for new expenses associated with the 
transition of instruction to distance learning. It would also ensure 
that colleges hardest hit by COVID-19 are receiving the support they 
need by requiring an application to demonstrate such needs, rather than 
providing all colleges with $500,000 in taxpayer funds regardless of 
  In this difficult time, colleges desperately need the flexibility to 
best serve their students. This bill will help ensure that Secretary 
DeVos and the U.S. Department of Education follow Congress' intent to 
stabilize our institutions of higher education that are hurting from 
COVID-19 and provide emergency financial aid for the students who need 
it, not just those that who have met bureaucratic requirements. I hope 
the Senate passes this bill quickly to ensure that institutions have 
the flexibility and supports they need to continue providing high 
quality and equitable access to education for all students as we 
continue to weather this pandemic.
      By Mr. CRUZ (for himself, Mr. Lee, Mr. Scott of South Carolina, 
        and Mr. Scott of Florida):
  S. 3949. A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to permit 
kindergarten through grade 12 educational expenses to be paid from a 
529 account during the Coronavirus Emergency Period; to the Committee 
on Finance.
  Mr. CRUZ. Mr. President, I rise at a time of crisis. For several 
months now, our Nation been dealing with two simultaneous crises--a 
global health pandemic that has claimed the lives of over 115,000 
Americans and over 400,000 people across the globe--and an economic 
crisis that has cost over 40 million Americans their jobs. We are also 
now dealing with a crisis of racial division and anger over the killing 
of George Floyd on Memorial Day.
  As our Nation reels from the difficulties of the past few months, 
it's time to focus on what we can do to recover. One challenge that 
we've faced this year is the closures of schools all across the 
Country. Suddenly, because of the coronavirus pandemic, over 76 million 
American students of all ages were faced with finishing the school year 
at home--including over five million students in my home State of 
Texas--away from many of the resources that school provides.
  To say that has been a staggering shift for many students and 
families is an understatement. That is why today, I'm introducing a 
bill to temporarily expand 529 accounts so that parents of children who 
are now learning from home as a result of the coronavirus pandemic can 
cover educational expenses such as tuition, books and other 
instructional materials, online educational materials, tutoring, 
standardized test fees, and educational therapies for students with 
  This bill, the Helping Parents Educate Children During the 
Coronavirus Pandemic Act, is a version of a bill I introduced last 
year, the Student Empowerment Act, which would allow 100 percent of 
American students to use 529 accounts to help pay for K-12 education. 
The Helping Parents Educate Children During the Coronavirus Pandemic 
Act has the benefits of the Student Empowerment Act, but is tailored to 
navigate the educational challenges the coronavirus pandemic poses to 
students nationwide.
  These bills would extend 529 accounts to cover educational expenses 
of all sorts, allowing public school families (who do not pay tuition) 
to participate. Around 90 percent of America's students attend public 
school, so this change would help many Americans afford all the 
associated costs of an education.
  These bills would also make 529 accounts more accessible to low-
income and middle-income families, public school families, families who 
send their children to religious schools, and homeschool families who 
need help paying for their child's K-12 education.
  We've come a long way in making a quality education attainable for 
American students, but we have more to do. That is why I'm working to 
help parents, guardians, and students across the country access the 
tools they need to continue school at home as long as we have a public 
health emergency because of the coronavirus pandemic.
  In closing, I want to thank the educators and parents who over the 
past three months have made education a priority for millions of 
American students. Your hard work and dedication to ensuring your 
students continue to learn despite the challenges of a global pandemic 
is a good example for us all that we must keep going, we must move 
forward, and that one day, we will emerge from these challenges 
stronger than before.
  I yield the floor.