CORONAVIRUS; Congressional Record Vol. 166, No. 75
(Senate - April 21, 2020)

Text available as:

Formatting necessary for an accurate reading of this text may be shown by tags (e.g., <DELETED> or <BOLD>) or may be missing from this TXT display. For complete and accurate display of this text, see the PDF.


[Page S2183]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                              CORONAVIRUS

  Mr. SULLIVAN. Mr. President, we are going to vote here in a minute on 
the next package that is going to try to help our Nation address these 
unprecedented challenges. I want to thank the majority leader, the 
White House, and the Democrats who have come forward to do this.
  It is very important that we are doing this. In my view, as the 
leader said, we should have done this 12 days ago. We are facing 
unprecedented challenges. When we passed the CARES Act 4 weeks ago--and 
I think Leader McConnell did an incredible job bringing the U.S. Senate 
together on a vote of 96-0, as Minority Leader Schumer mentioned with 
regard to this legislation that our Nation needed so desperately and 
that we are trying to provide more resources because the resources 
needed had already been spent.
  After that vote, I came to the floor, and I made a statement that, 
although I was proud to have voted for that and proud to have been a 
part of the negotiations for that because our Nation was going to need 
it--did need it, desperately--that we knew there would be mistakes. We 
knew there would be areas that weren't covered that should have been. 
We knew elements of that bill would run out of money, as they have.
  I made a plea that we should be here working on behalf of the people 
we represent. Our Governors are back home working hard, doing a good 
job; but as I mentioned, the evening that we passed the CARES Act, from 
the perspective of Congress--House and Senate--this should be our duty 
station as we address these unprecedented challenges, and I still 
believe that. We have heard about the difficulties that could come with 
voting and having Members of Congress catch COVID-19, but we can do 
this safely. We can vote safely.

  As Senator Lee mentioned earlier, Americans all over the country are 
on the frontlines--truck drivers, healthcare workers, grocery store 
attendants--helping their fellow Americans. If they can be doing that, 
I think we should be here working on behalf of them.
  There is so much more to do. We need to be nimble. Let me give you an 
example. The energy sector right now--hugely important to my State--is 
being decimated because of what is happening globally with regard to 
energy prices. Great workers are being laid off. Small businesses in 
many sectors in Alaska like tourism are at a huge risk. Had we been 
here--you know, there is a lot of talk right now about the delay--the 
minority leader, Speaker Pelosi, wouldn't have had an excuse to delay 
the funding for the PPP for 12 days. How many small businesses and jobs 
were lost because of that delay? We will never know, but I am sure it 
was in the thousands.
  I am reading a book right now, ``1776,'' by David McCullough. It is 
about the incredible challenges that our Nation went through at the 
birth of our Nation. It is mostly about George Washington and the tough 
battles he led and fought. He lost a lot of them in New York.
  One remarkable thing about that book is, for almost the entire year 
in 1776, the Continental Congress was actually in session directing 
General Washington. They were in Philadelphia at enormous risk as the 
British were closing in on them. But as the war was raging for most of 
that year--that remarkable year of 1776--they were working.
  We have so much more work to do for our Nation in these unprecedented 
times, whether it is confirming judges or phase four of an 
infrastructure package that we should be working on or even confirming 
key members of the executive branch. I am hopeful that, just in a 
couple of minutes, we are going to be able to move forward with Rear 
Admiral Michael Weahkee's nomination to be the Director of Indian 
Health Service at the Department of Health and Human Services. As our 
Native communities are being threatened by COVID-19, having this 
admiral, who has got broad support throughout our Tribal governments, 
including in Alaska, be able to be confirmed right now is just one 
example of the work that I am hopeful we can be doing.
  So this should be our duty station, working around the clock for 
people we represent, getting through these unprecedented times, being 
able to address challenges as they arise--and they are arising every 
hour, every minute.
  I want to end on a positive note--speaking of duty station--a good 
news story that involves the people of interior Alaska and our 
wonderful U.S. military. Right now, literally as we speak, there are 
two F-35s that have left Texas--brand new--coming to Eielson Air Force 
Base in Alaska. Fifteen years ago, Eielson Air Force Base was on the 
verge of being shut down. The interior Alaska communities of Fairbanks, 
North Pole, and so many leaders fought that. They said, No, this is a 
strategic location for our military, we shouldn't shut this down.
  Now, these communities today will be receiving the first of 54 F-35s, 
two squadrons. I want to commend, not just my fellow Alaskans for their 
grit and determination to make this day happen--a huge day in my 
State--but the U.S. military. The U.S. military, a year and a half ago, 
said the F-35s will start coming to Alaska in April 2020. Despite this 
pandemic, that is what is happening today--remarkable grit and 
determination of my fellow Alaskans but also remarkable service to our 
Nation by the U.S. Air Force delivering these F-35s on time. That will 
make my State have over 100 fifth generation fighters protecting our 
country. So this is an inspiring story, as we are hearing all kinds of 
inspiring stories throughout our Nation, throughout these challenging 
times.
  But in my view, we should be ready to help these great people that we 
lead and that we serve to get them through these unprecedented times.
  I yield the floor.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The majority leader.

                          ____________________