June 11, 2020 - Issue: Vol. 166, No. 108 — Daily Edition116th Congress (2019 - 2020) - 2nd Session
STATEMENTS ON INTRODUCED BILLS AND JOINT RESOLUTION; Congressional Record Vol. 166, No. 108
(Senate - June 11, 2020)
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[Pages S2934-S2936] From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov] STATEMENTS ON INTRODUCED BILLS AND JOINT RESOLUTION 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, SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE. This Act may be cited as the ``Hand Sanitizer Guidance Extension Act of 2020''. SEC. 2. FEDERAL GUIDANCE ON HAND SANITIZER. (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 applicable. 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 costs. 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 emergency. 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 tournament. 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 size. 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 disabilities. 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. ____________________