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.