July 27, 2020 - Issue: Vol. 166, No. 132 — Daily Edition116th Congress (2019 - 2020) - 2nd Session
Coronavirus (Executive Session); Congressional Record Vol. 166, No. 132
(Senate - July 27, 2020)
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[Pages S4493-S4497] From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov] Coronavirus Madam President, on a very different subject, over the past several months, Senate Democrats have been appalled that our Republican colleagues have refused to work with us in any significant way to help defeat COVID-19 or provide relief to Americans during these unprecedented times. We do not understand how, faced with the greatest economic threat in 75 years and the greatest public health threat in a century, the Senate Republican majority was content to do almost nothing for 3 long months, as more people died, more were thrown out of work, more small businesses went under. Last week, finally, our Republican colleagues said they were coming out with a plan, but even after all the delay, even after Leader McConnell put the Senate on pause for 3 months, Senate Republicans and the White House were so unprepared and so divided, they couldn't even agree on a proposal among themselves. Ten weeks--ten weeks after Democrats passed a comprehensive bill through the House, Senate Republicans couldn't even agree on what to throw on the wall. Last week was a slow-motion train wreck on the Republican side. It couldn't have come at a worse time, and it will cause immense and, potentially, irrevocable damage to our country. Protections against evictions expired last week, at a time when over 12 million persons lived in households that missed the rent payment last month. Enhanced unemployment benefits for 20 to 30 million Americans out of work expire this week, without a proper solution. No matter what we do, States will not be able to quickly restart any enhanced unemployment benefits because Senate Republicans dithered for what seems like an eternity. We are on the precipice of several cliffs--destructive cliffs--for one reason and one reason only: The White House and Senate Republicans couldn't get their act together and wasted precious time. These issues could have been solved months ago, but the lack of any urgency and understanding and empathy for people who need help from Senate Republicans has led us to a very precarious moment. Today, it seems, we may finally see the Republican proposal on the next phase of COVID relief. Who knows if we will see legislative text or just an outline. It also appears the Republican proposal will not be an actual, coherent bill but rather a series of small, piecemeal ideas. That is a metaphor for their first 100 days: lack of unity. They can't even put one bill together--they are so divided--so a few Senators put in this one, a few Senators put in that one, a few Senators put in another one. Not only do we not know if the President supports any of these proposals, we don't even know if Senate Republicans fully support them. Yesterday, the Republican chairman of the Judiciary Committee said half of the Republican caucus will vote no on any additional stimulus. The greatest crisis America has faced in close to a century on health, 75 years on the economy, and our Republican colleagues can't even agree among themselves about what to do and have put out a few piecemeal pieces that don't come close to doing the job. We have waited months--months for the Republican COVID relief bill, and it turns out we will not even get a bill, and Republicans probably will not support it. Worse still, based on reports and Leader McConnell's speech just now, the Republican legislative response to COVID-19 is totally inadequate. It will not include food assistance for hungry kids--kids, whose parents can't feed them. They say no relief. How hard-hearted. How cruel. Is it that those wealthy, rightwing people who don't want to pay any taxes say kids shouldn't eat? Because the private sector ain't doing it. You need the government. Hazard pay for essential workers, risking their lives for us--what about funding for State and local and Tribal governments? Their budgets are in the tank. We are approaching a new month. Many, many, many essential workers will be laid off--busdrivers and sanitation workers and firefighters. The Republican proposal will ignore not one or two or three but scores of major crises in America right now. In addition, based on what the leader has said, the Republican proposal will not go nearly far enough, even in the pieces they try to do something with--the small number, the disparate number, the unaggregated number--since each piece seems to be separate because they can't seem to get agreement among themselves. When it comes to our schools, the Republican proposal does not provide enough resources for them to reopen safely. Major League Baseball, an organization with vastly more resources than the average school district, has taken great pains to restart its season safely, and yet we learned today that 13 players and staff on 1 team alone have contracted the coronavirus. How can Republicans ask our schools to protect the safety of our children without the necessary resources or guidance, when multibillion-dollar industries like baseball are having trouble doing it? And are they just afraid of President Trump, who wants the schools to open without any help, for whatever is in his own head, which isn't about the safety of America? The plan is totally inadequate. It appears that Senate Republicans have finally come around to the fact that the Democratic position on extending the moratorium on evictions or it may be just the moratorium on foreclosures--we will see what is in the proposal. They have come around to that, but they don't support helping Americans actually afford the rent or their next mortgage payment. That makes no sense. We can prevent landlords or banks from kicking Americans out of their homes for another 6 months, but what then? Those same Americans may be 6 months behind on their rent or mortgage. They will have no hope of making up the difference. And what will the landlords do? Not all landlords are big companies. Some of them, just like in my neighborhood, are landlords of a two- or three-family house. If no one can pay the rent, that hurts them too. How are they going to pay for heat or electricity? It is essential that we do what is in the Democratic Heroes Act and provide money to pay the rent or the mortgages for those thrown out of work, through no fault of their own, with no income. [[Page S4494]] The Heroes Act provides $100 billion to help renters pay the rent; $75 billion to help homeowners pay the mortgage. The Heroes Act would prevent another housing crisis in America. The Republican proposal, assuming they even address housing issues, would only delay a catastrophe a few months. The greatest deficiency in the Republican proposal may be their plan for unemployment insurance. According to reports, the White House and Senate want to extend the enhanced unemployment benefits the Democrats secured in the CARES Act but only provide a percentage of a worker's former wage. There are four reasons this is a terrible policy. First, it would hurt the unemployed. If you lost your job through no fault of your own, Republicans want you to take a 30-percent pay cut. Can you believe that? You have lost your job; you can't get to work; the administration has bungled this crisis; and now they want to take $1,600 out of your pocket every single month, blaming the victim-- blaming the victim. Maybe, again, some of those Republican, hard-right money people who don't want to pay taxes to help anybody, don't want the Federal Government to help anybody. Let me tell you, my Republican friends, you can't do this without the Federal Government and the Federal Government's resources. The private sector can't take care of this on their own. That is one reason. Second, it would exacerbate poverty. A recent study showed the enhanced benefits have prevented 12 million Americans from slipping into poverty. It has probably been the greatest anti-poverty program that we have had in a very, very long time. Why on Earth would we slash and burn benefits keeping American families out of poverty? Third, it will devastate our economy. One of the few things that has this economy not getting worse is that people have money in their pockets to buy goods. Consumer spending is going up. Do you know why, my Republican friends? In large part because of the generous benefit in the pandemic unemployment insurance. Mark Zandi and other great economists have said just that--just that. Consumer purchases are helping the economy from getting worse. There is money in the pockets of consumers to help them pay the bills and shop in stores and more. What do our Republican friends want to do? Cut the benefits to Americans who are spending the money as soon as they get it, taking one of the few policies stimulating the economy off the table. That is why an analysis from respected economic forecasters at Moody's--hardly a political organization--say that reducing these benefits or letting them expire could cost over a million jobs--a million more jobs this year. And fourth and finally, the ideologues here get together and come up with a plan, and it doesn't work. It is going to be impossible to implement. Republicans, at the last minute, while they waited and waited and waited--3 weeks ago Speaker Pelosi and I wrote to Leader McConnell and said: Sit down and talk to us now. We heard nothing. So they waited and waited and waited until they are up to the cliff, and now they come up with an entirely new system, where States would have to calculate a different benefit for each individual worker. Well, the implementations will be a nightmare. Let me read you--my office called some State unemployment offices about this Republican proposal. A medium-size State on the west coast: It would take months. We don't even have a way of calculating the wages of individuals. We are not equipped to do anything but a flat amount. Need a serious transition period. Even changing the dollar amount would take 2 to 4 weeks--2 to 4 weeks where people have no money. Another Southeastern State, medium size again: Very difficult. This State said: We need public statements from the Feds that people will not be able to get benefits for many weeks or months. Need to be realistic so our offices aren't overwhelmed. Even if you do a clean $600, you have to reapply in our State. From a small State in the Northeast--these are workers, people in the Governor's offices or the unemployment offices: Even clean extensions of FPUC [that is pandemic uninsurance] will take weeks to implement. Can't even speculate how long it would take to do wage replacement. Will not have to reapply for a clean $600, but it will take weeks to do retroactive payments. From three States--a very big State in the West, a big State in the Midwest, and a smaller State in the West: It would take many months. This would cause chaos with our constituents. From a Great Plains State: 2 months minimum to implement. From a big State in the Northeast, smaller State in the West: 8 weeks or more to implement. From a small State in the West: We have turned off the $600 FPUC effective benefit week ending July 25, per law. Any claims not decided prior to that date will still have benefit of [the] FPUC if found eligible. Any claims filed yesterday forward would not. As for options, another flat amount is best. From a large State in the East: Extension of $600, could be seamless. Lower flat, will take time. Percentage of wages is impossible. Chaos. Chaos. If you change the unemployment benefit, it is going to take weeks if not months for most people to get it. The economy crashes. People are hurt. They get kicked out of their homes, and they can't feed their kids. What are you doing? The Republican proposal on unemployment benefits, simply put, is unworkable. It will delay benefits for weeks, if not months, as we slide into a greater degree of recession. By the way, the idea that we need to drastically reduce these benefits because workers will stay home otherwise is greatly exaggerated. Most Americans are not going to quit their jobs, forgo benefits and a steady salary in order to receive temporary unemployment benefits. That is what leading economists have said. These benefits are a lifeline to tens of millions who want to work, are ready to work, but can't find work because there aren't jobs for them. The vast majority of these people don't have a job to go to. Let's face it, folks. Our country is in the middle of multiple crises. Tens of millions of Americans are jobless. American families are struggling to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads. Nearly 150,000 Americans have died--a stunning and heartbreaking loss of life--and, in response, Senate Republicans have presented us with a half-hearted, half-baked legislative proposal. In short, the Republican plan is too little, too late. The Republican plan is weak tea when our problems need a much stronger brew. I heard Leader McConnell's ``Alice in Wonderland'' interpretation of what happened in the last 3 months. The first bill, he says, was the way we should go. Well, let's remember what happened. Republicans put their own bill on the floor; Democrats said no. Then, finally, you folks came to the table, negotiated with us, and the bill is far more a Democratic bill than a Republican bill. You know that, and we know that. On the other hand, the other alternative, which the leader referred to as the Justice in Policing Act, was totally partisan. Sometimes I am amazed at the words the Republican leader can use. He says that he wants to be nonpartisan, and our bill is a socialist manifesto. Well, which one is it? Which one is it? Here is what we should do. Republicans should scrap their approach. We don't even know how many are for--and what pieces. They should use the Heroes Act--comprehensive, strong, and bold for negotiations--and start talking with Democrats in a serious way about the real problems our country is facing. Again, this is a serious, serious crisis. It is the biggest health crisis in 100 years, the biggest economic crisis in 75. The Republican mantra to let the private sector do it is just not going to work. You have to understand that the times are different. The crisis is real. We need an active, bold series of government programs--not just cutting and cutting and eliminating and eliminating--to solve our health problems and get the economy out of the morass. We Democrats have been waiting to negotiate with our Republican colleagues for more than 2 months. I am [[Page S4495]] bitterly disappointed and frustrated by their delay and now by the inadequacy of their product. We need to immediately enter into bipartisan, bicameral negotiations to develop a bill that actually matches the scale of the crisis and the needs of the American people. Speaker Pelosi this morning called on Leader McConnell and Leader McCarthy and representatives of the President to join me and her in the Speaker's office half an hour after the Republican bill is released. Republicans in the House and Senate must join us. We are running out of time. The Senate Republicans just ran down the clock and tossed an air ball. I yield the floor. The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Iowa Mr. GRASSLEY. About half an hour ago, Leader McConnell gave an outline of the bill that will be before the Senate in regard to carrying on where the CARES Act left off. Those of us who are chairmen of various committees or have input into this process would like to go into some detail--but not in-depth detail--of our parts of the bill. I am chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and within our jurisdiction, our proposals take on several issues facing Americans during the crisis. For unemployment insurance, we boost the Federal Government's reimbursement to local governments and nonprofits to 75 percent, up from 50 percent in the first CARES Act. We do that to prevent further layoffs from local governments and nonprofit organizations. In the same legislation we maintain some of the current boosted benefits, but we must also responsibly hone those programs to target help where it is really needed. Our bill transitions from a flat rate to a replacement of 70 percent of lost wages for people who have become unemployed. This is a much more responsible approach that we didn't have time to work out in the first CARES Act. Regardless, the boosted unemployment benefit is significantly more than Democratic Senate and Democratic Presidents approved in the 2009 economic crisis, which, by the way, was only an additional $25 a month when we had the worst recession in this country since the Great Depression of the 1930s. So I heard people cry just a few minutes ago about our not doing enough. It doesn't make sense to do what we knew we were doing wrong, but we had to do it to get help out to the people who were unemployed. For the last 4 months, we were paying out of the Federal Treasury $600 a week, in addition to what each State would pay for those unemployed. In other words, we have learned what we knew at the time--that when you pay people more not to work than they would get working, what do you expect? People will not work. What this country needs is more workers. If we are going to get this country turned around, it is not going to come from money from unemployment to individuals because government doesn't create wealth; it only consumes wealth. If you want to create a bigger economic pie for everybody, more workers are going to be necessary for a bigger economic pie. Going to our tax provisions in this same bill, our tax provisions aim to help Americans get back to work and help businesses safely open. We expand access to the CARES Act employment tax credit for small and medium-sized businesses. We expand the work opportunity tax credit for larger employers hiring people currently receiving unemployment compensation. We also provide a new credit for expenses, like personal protective equipment and cleaning needed to maintain a safe and healthy workplace for employees and for customers. The Republican plan provides for another round of $1,200 economic impact payments for most American adults, but we also include in the additional $500 for each dependent-- some people we didn't intend to leave out last time, but we did. So regardless of age, some of these dependents will now be helped. For healthcare providers we relax the terms of loans received from Medicare. We ensure that Medicare telehealth options don't expire before Congress can determine what should be made permanent. We extend for 5 years the CARES Act provision that pays clinics and health centers for telehealth to provide a downpayment on meeting healthcare needs in rural America, and we help by freezing Medicare premiums at 2020 levels to head off a predicted spike next year that would otherwise happen to senior citizens. We also assist nursing home patients and workers. State and local governments have also asked for Federal help. Our proposal extends the timeframe in which governments can utilize the $150 billion in funding provided under the first CARES Act by also providing more flexibility and allowing some funds to be used to cover revenue shortfalls. This proposal sets out a responsible, holistic approach to address the problems our country faces. I hope my Democratic colleagues are interested in compromise and solutions for the benefit of all of the American people. I yield the floor. The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Texas. Mr. CORNYN. Madam President, as we continue to work on supporting our country's recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, one critical piece of the CARES 2 legislation is liability reform. Across the country we are seeing lawsuits rolling in, targeting the very healthcare workers who are on the frontlines performing essential work for patients suffering from the COVID-19 virus. We are seeing lawsuits focusing on nursing homes, universities, nonprofit businesses--you name it. Without action from Congress, the litigation epidemic will potentially sink the very businesses and enterprises that we hoped we could sustain through this crisis. Today, Leader McConnell and I introduced the Safe to Work Act, which will ensure that those operating in good faith and following all the relevant guidelines cannot be sued out of existence. To be clear, this is not a blanket liability shield. It will not prevent bad actors from facing the consequences of their actions when they are intentional or reckless. It will not ban coronavirus lawsuits, and it will not give anyone a ``get out of jail free'' card. What it will do, though, is put safeguards in place that will prevent opportunistic lawsuits from harming the workers and institutions we are depending on to see us through this crisis. First and foremost are protections for our incredible healthcare heroes who made the tremendous physical and mental sacrifices over the last few months. This legislation sets a willful misconduct or gross negligence standard for coronavirus-related medical liability suits to ensure that only meritorious cases are brought against our healthcare workers. I would add that the costs of litigation itself can be enough to put somebody out of business, even though you, in the end, ``win'' the lawsuit. The cost of defending a case that you ultimately win can be so big that it will put you out of business by itself. In addition to protecting our healthcare heroes, we need to ensure that fear of lawsuits does not prevent our schools, nonprofits, small businesses, and a range of other organizations and institutions that are vital to our communities from opening their doors. This will spell out in black and white that these entities will be protected from COVID-19 exposure claims as long as they have made a good-faith effort to comply with mandatory public health guidelines. By the way, a number of States have already provided similar protections, including the minority leader's State of New York, and it is time we extend these liability limitations to the rest in the country. This is not a red State or blue State issue. We are all in this together, and that is why red State and blue State legislators and Governors have already acted in a similar fashion to what I am describing here. In order for our country to recover, the workers and institutions we depend on now need to know with confidence that if they are operating in good faith and obeying health guidelines, they are not going to become victims of a feeding frenzy. This legislation will provide that confidence, and I hope my colleagues on both sides of the aisle will join me in supporting these commonsense reforms. I yield the floor. [[Page S4496]] The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Boozman). The Senator from South Carolina. Mr. SCOTT of South Carolina. Mr. President, as we continue our efforts to tackle the effects of COVID-19, both in terms of healthcare and the economic fallout, CARES 2 could be a critical piece to the puzzle. Americans continue to mask up, social distance, and do what we can do as individuals to slow the spread of the virus. Here, in the Senate, we know that we must find additional ways to keep our people as healthy as possible while we reopen our economy as safely as we can. We also know that low wage and service industry workers have taken the hardest economic hit from the virus. This stems, in part, from restaurants either being closed or operating at a limited capacity. In April, one out of four individuals to lose their jobs lost their jobs in the restaurant industry. That is 5.5 million Americans who lost their jobs in the restaurant business. While those losses have certainly begun to recover, and even as our restaurants adjust and innovate to find new ways to serve customers, there is no doubt they need some additional help. That is why I worked on the provision in this legislation that will provide a 100-percent deduction for business meals--up from 50 percent. We know that through outdoor dining, carryout, delivery, and, in some places around the country, limited indoor dining, we can keep folks safe. This incentive will lead to more orders that will translate into more take-home pay and more hours for wait staff and kitchen staff and more revenues for millions of small businesses. That is a great thing and an easy thing to accomplish with this simple provision. The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Maine. Ms. COLLINS. Mr. President, the Paycheck Protection Program of forgivable loans has been a lifeline to millions of our small businesses and their employees. According to a recent census survey, more than 76 percent of Maine's small businesses reported receiving a PPP loan. An estimated 240,000 Maine jobs have been supported by this critically important program, which has brought more than $2.2 billion to our State. Nationwide, more than 5 million small employers have received PPP loans. When Senators Rubio, Cardin, Shaheen, and I developed this program back in March, we had no idea how long economic closures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 would last. Many small businesses have made considerable investments in personal protective equipment and facility modifications to operate safely during the pandemic and yet are still only able to operate at a fraction of their previous capacity. In fact, I talked to an innkeeper in Maine just this morning who told me that in normal times, at this point in the summer, his inn would be nearly full every single night, but this July his business is down by 93 percent. The bill that Senator Rubio and I are introducing would allow the hardest hit small employers--those whose revenue has declined by 50 percent or even more--to receive a second PPP forgivable loan. And to ensure that we are targeting assistance to the employers that need help the most, we limit those second loans to small businesses with 300 or fewer employees. Our bill would also expand forgivable PPP expenses to include investments needed to protect both employees and customers, such as masks, plexiglass shields, and improved HVAC systems. This could include, for example, the expense of expanding outdoor seating, which is especially important to restaurants that are still under dining restrictions. We include a number of other important provisions, such as allowing seasonal businesses more flexibility in calculating their loan amounts and simplifying the loan forgiveness process for smaller borrowers. I hope that our proposal will help advance bipartisan negotiations to extend this vital program before August 8, when applications will no longer be accepted. There are so many small employers and their employees who have been kept afloat by the first PPP loan they received but need a second one to survive this persistent pandemic The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Florida. Mr. RUBIO. Mr. President, to follow up on Senator Collins' outline of the second round of PPP, I think it is important, first, to remind everybody how we got to this place. The goal, when we did it the first time, was to not only allow small businesses to survive what was then uncertain as to how long it would take but also to keep their workers attached to employment. We know how devastating it is to a family and to an individual when they get disconnected from employment, and, by and large, we believe the program has been incredibly successful. But it has room for improvement, and we have learned from those things along the way with some of the different changes that were made in providing more flexibility and the like. This new program comes at a timely moment because we are now beginning to see that as the PPP funds are being exhausted, some companies are having to face, once again, the potential of having to lay off some of their workers. That is why it is time for a second round of PPP assistance. A lot of the provisions will be very familiar. You have heard them already--the 2\1/2\ percent payroll and so forth--but some are new because we really wanted this to be more targeted. That is why there is the 300-employee-or-less standard, and you have to have 50 percent or more of revenue reduction. We also understand that some communities have been harder hit, for a variety of different reasons, and especially the sort of microbusinesses--the smaller ones. Some of these funds will be set aside for employers that have 10 employees or less, to make sure that the money doesn't run out without that group of small businesses getting the assistance they need. In addition, we know that minority and underserved small businesses have been disproportionately impacted by the lockdowns that we have seen. Many of them, obviously, often lack significant cash reserves. They historically face challenges being able to get traditional means of capital. So, as part of this proposal, separate from PPP and in addition to it, we are proposing an additional type of loan that would be longer term, more targeted, and at low interest, designated for small businesses that are either seasonal employers or located in low- income communities and have 500 or fewer employees. It provides them flexible long-term working capital to help ensure that these most vulnerable and underserved small businesses don't go out of business because of the pandemic but allows them to borrow up to two times their annual revenues on a 20-year loan term at 1 percent interest. Again, don't confuse that with PPP. This is a separate target product to try to help those who are in low-income neighborhoods, as defined by their census track. So, consider, for example, a small business with $400,000. A 5-year loan at 7\1/2\ percent interest rate, that today would be equal to $8,000 monthly payments. But if they are able to refinance that existing loan at 1 percent, the payments fall to $1,840. So it is an additional amount of assistance. The bottom line is that we all recognize the importance of small business. We should all recognize that this is not a bailout. These are viable businesses, and the only reason they are struggling is because the government has stepped in--like it does, for example, in eminent domain--and said: For the public good, it is important for us to infringe upon your right to make money and conduct business. I think when government does that in the public good, just like in eminent domain, the government also has an obligation to step forward and help these companies from going out of business. Otherwise, we will lose not just the backbone of our economy but the millions of jobs that come with it, and the impact would be catastrophic. I yield the floor. The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Utah. (The remarks of Mr. Romney pertaining to the introduction of S. 4323 are printed in today's Record under ``Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions.'') Mr. ROMNEY. I yield the floor. The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Alabama. Mr. SHELBY. Mr. President, today I introduced legislation that provides $306 billion in additional resources to [[Page S4497]] fight the coronavirus and to mitigate its impact on American families, schools, and businesses. I want to briefly highlight some of the main provisions. They have probably been talked about already this afternoon. First, $6 billion goes for States to ramp up testing, with a particular emphasis on schools, employers, childcare facilities, and nursing homes. Second, $26 billion goes for the development and distribution of vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics. We have made meaningful progress on each of these fronts, but we haven't gotten there yet, as we all know. Third, there is $105 billion for the Education Stabilization Fund to help schools adapt to the circumstances they face, which are extraordinary. The CDC has emphasized the importance of getting kids back into school and has issued guidelines on how to do so safely. That is why this legislation provides additional funding for K-12 schools to get kids back into the classroom at least 50 percent of the time, which would be a big start. We recognize they will incur additional expense if they reopen safely, and we have to try to provide for that. The fourth point I want to highlight briefly here is $20 billion in additional assistance for our Nation's farmers and our ranchers. The fifth and final point: nearly $30 billion to bolster the U.S. defense industrial base, which is important to all of us. We must never take our eyes off the ball there. These resources will prevent furloughs of thousands of employees from across the country who help Americans stay safe. I can go on and on, but time is moving on here this afternoon. We realize this is just the first step. We have to work together. We have to work in a bipartisan fashion here and put America first. We know the House has some high numbers. We have good numbers, I believe. I look forward to some bipartisan help on this and moving these bills along. I yield the floor. The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Tennessee Mr. ALEXANDER. Mr. President, I thank Senator Wyden for his courtesy in allowing me to go next. I will be succinct. The way to get back to work and back to school is to put politics aside and work together, as we have been doing, on the COVID-19 response and see whether we can get a result for the American people in the next couple of weeks. The part of the Safely Back to Work and Back to School Act that I am introducing today does four things. First, if you are one of 43 million Americans with a student loan, it helps you manage your debt. This is the way it does it: If you have no income, you have no monthly payment. If you remember, in March, we said to the 43 million Americans with student debt: You can defer your payment until October 1. Well, that is just around the corner. What we would propose is, you don't have to pay it after October 1 if you have no income. If you do have income, your monthly payment will never be more than 10 percent of your income after deducting the necessities of life, such as rent, mortgage, or food. No. 2, if you are a parent, this bill gives your child more choices of schools, provides scholarships so that your child can return to the private school he or she attended before the pandemic, and gives other students a new opportunity to attend private school. Senator Tim Scott introduced that legislation earlier. I am a cosponsor. No. 3, if you are a working mom or dad, it helps you find childcare so you can go back to work. A lot of our childcare centers operate on a very thin margin. They have reduced revenue because they don't have as many clients these days. Senator Blunt's bill and Senator Shelby's appropriations bill will provide money so that they can stay open and provide safe environments to two-thirds of the children in the United States under age 6 who have parents in the workforce. Finally, our bill--the part I am introducing--improves the Strategic National Stockpile so that we can maintain adequate supplies of masks, gloves, protective equipment, as well as onshore manufacturing capacity for tests, treatments, and vaccines that we are building now. We want to make sure that it doesn't go away and we have to rely on other countries in other parts of the world. This legislation is about children, jobs, and healthcare. As far as schools go, there are 100,000 public schools and 35,000 private schools in our country. There are about 5 million students in the private schools and 50 million in the public schools. Every one of those children is a treasure. I have worked with Senator Blunt to help the country's 135,000 schools and 6,000 colleges have the money they need to open with as many students physically present as is consistent with safety. The Safely Back to Work and Back to School Act poses making $70 billion available for schools; another $30 billion for colleges. That means roughly $1,200 per student for public and private schools across the country. One-third of the money would be distributed automatically to all 135,000 schools. That is probably about $400 a student--a significant amount of money. Two-thirds of the money would go to schools that are opening with students physically present to help pay for the extra costs of providing that instruction in a safe environment. If they are trying to open with students physically present, it makes logical sense to say that if they have to have more buses, if they have to hire more teachers, if they have to have more protective equipment, then those schools need more help paying for that. There will be more funding, as Senator Shelby mentioned, to help contain this sneaky, dangerous virus and give Americans more opportunity for access to healthcare. There is more funding in this overall legislation for testing, for the National Institutes of Health, community health centers, the distribution of vaccines, and to extend the expansion of teleservice activities that has happened during the pandemic. This legislation reflects our Nation's priorities, which are safely back to school, safely back to childcare, and safely back to work. I yield the floor. The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Oregon.