(Senate - February 02, 2021)

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[Pages S226-S241]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                          FOR FISCAL YEAR 2021

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report the concurrent 
  The legislative clerk read as follows:

       A concurrent resolution (S. Con. Res. 5) setting forth the 
     congressional budget for the United States Government for 
     fiscal year 2021 and setting forth the appropriate budgetary 
     levels for fiscal years 2022 through 2030.

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Vermont.

                           Order of Procedure

  Mr. SANDERS. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that for the 
duration of the Senate's consideration of S. Con. Res. 5, the majority 
and Republican managers of the concurrent resolution, while seated or 
standing at the managers' desks, be permitted to deliver floor remarks, 
retrieve, review, and edit documents, and send email and other data 
communications from text displayed on wireless personal digital 
assistant devices and tablet devices. I further ask unanimous consent 
that the use of calculators be permitted on the floor during 
consideration of the budget resolution; further, that the staff be 
permitted to make technical and conforming changes to the resolution, 
if necessary, consistent with the amendments adopted during Senate 
consideration, including calculating the associated change in the net 
interest function, and incorporating the effect of such adopted 
amendments on the budgetary aggregates for Federal revenues, the amount 
by which the Federal revenues should be changed, new budget authority, 
budget outlays, deficits, public debt, and debt held by the public.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The Senator from Vermont

                           Budget Resolution

  Mr. SANDERS. Mr. President, I rise today to speak in support of the 
budget resolution that was introduced today.
  Mr. President, let us be clear and let us in the Senate understand 
what the American people know all too well, and that is that our 
country is currently experiencing the worst economic crisis since the 
Great Depression and the worst public health emergency in over 100 
  January marked the deadliest month of the pandemic, with over 90,000 
Americans losing their lives as a result of COVID-19--90,000 Americans 
in 1 month.
  In the midst of all of this, over 90 million Americans are uninsured 
or underinsured and are unable to afford to go to a doctor when they 
become ill.
  The isolation and the anxiety caused by this pandemic have resulted 
in a horrible increase in mental illness, in depression, in anxiety, 
and in suicidal ideation.
  Today, as we speak, over half of our people are living paycheck-to-
paycheck, including millions of essential workers who put their lives 
on the line each and every day. More than 24 million Americans are 
unemployed, underemployed, or have given up looking for work, while 
hunger in this country--hunger in the richest country in the history of 
the world--is at the highest level that we have seen in decades.
  Because of lack of income, over 14 million Americans are behind on 
their rent, averaging some $5,800 per family, and many of those 
families face eviction all across this country. People are worried that 
when the moratorium on eviction ends, they are going to be thrown out 
of their homes, put out on the streets. Americans who worry about 
eviction understand that they must not join the half a million 
Americans who are already homeless.
  That is some of what we are experiencing today. That is what the 
American people understand.
  Meanwhile, in the midst of this devastation to the working class and 
middle class of our country, the wealthiest people in America are 
becoming much wealthier, and income and wealth inequality--a longtime 
problem--is now soaring. Incredibly, while families throughout the 
country are struggling to put food on the table to feed their kids 
during this pandemic, 660 billionaires--not a whole lot of people--have 
increased their wealth by over $1 trillion.
  As a result of this pandemic, education in our country, from 
childcare to graduate school, is in chaos. The majority of young people 
in our Nation have seen their education disrupted. Kids are not getting 
the learning that they need, falling further and further behind. On top 
of that, it is likely that hundreds of colleges will soon cease to 
  In this moment of unprecedented crises, the Senate must respond 
through unprecedented action. The budget resolution we are debating 
today is simple, and it is straightforward. It will enable us to pass 
President Biden's $1.9 trillion emergency COVID relief plan through 
reconciliation with 51 votes instead of 60.
  Now, I have heard from some of my Republican colleagues who tell us: 
Well, this reconciliation concept, that is a radical idea. Why are you 
using reconciliation?
  They are telling us that it is absolutely imperative that we go 
forward in a bipartisan way and require 60 votes for passage. But I 
must say that when Republicans used this same reconciliation process, I 
didn't hear much about bipartisanship at that point. In fact, 
Republicans used the reconciliation process to provide trillions of 
dollars in tax breaks to the top 1 percent and large, profitable 
corporations by a simple majority vote. The only people who voted for 
that bill were Republicans--no bipartisanship in that bill.
  My Republican colleagues used reconciliation to open up the Arctic 
National Wildlife Refuge for the drilling of oil--once again by a 
simple majority. The only people who supported that were Republicans--
not one Democrat.
  As we all remember, painfully, my Republican colleagues used the 
reconciliation process to try to repeal the Affordable Care Act and 
throw up to 32 million Americans off of the healthcare they currently 
have. As you will recall, that was a 100-percent partisan vote, which 
fortunately lost by one vote.
  Further, weeks--weeks--before a Presidential election, the last 
election, my Republican colleagues pushed through their nominee for the 
Supreme Court with 50 votes. That was a few weeks before the election. 
Not one Democrat supported that nominee--a totally partisan vote.
  Well, as the incoming chair of the Senate Budget Committee, this is 
what I believe: If Republicans can use reconciliation to help the 
wealthy and the powerful and pass legislation strongly opposed by the 
American people, we can and must use reconciliation to help Americans 
recover from the worst economic and public health crisis in the modern 
history of our country. In other words, now is the time for this 
Congress to stand with the working class and the middle class of this 
country and do what the overwhelming majority of the American people 
want us to do.
  It is worth pointing out that poll after poll shows that an 
overwhelming majority of Americans--over 70 percent--support what 
President Biden and what we are trying to do. They know we have to act 
  So I hope we will not hear much more about bipartisanship, given my 
Republican colleagues' record on that issue.
  Let us be clear. The working class of this country and the middle 
class are facing more economic desperation than at any time since the 
Great Depression. I have to tell you that to me, emotionally, it was a 
painful sight to see in my own city of Burlington, VT, hundreds of cars 
lined up so that families could get the food they needed to feed their 
kids. What happened in Burlington is happening in every State of this 
country. People--many of whom have never had any public assistance at 
all--are lining up to get emergency supplies of food in order to keep 
their families alive.
  Whether it is the pandemic, which is killing 3,000 people a day; 
whether it is

[[Page S227]]

the economic collapse, which is leaving millions of our people 
destitute; whether it is the disruption of education in this country, 
which means that kids are falling further and further behind, this 
Congress must act and act boldly.
  For too long Congress has responded to the needs of the wealthy and 
the powerful and big-money campaign contributors. Now is the time, in 
this unprecedented set of crises, for us to respond to the needs of 
working families, whether they are Black or White, Latino, Native 
American, or Asian American.
  It is no secret that millions of our fellow Americans are literally 
giving up on democracy--giving up on democracy. They think that the 
U.S. Congress and the U.S. Government does not care a whit about the 
needs of working people. The people who go to work every day, who keep 
our country going, who put their lives on the line during this 
pandemic, they look at us, and they say: Does anybody there in 
Washington--all you rich guys, do you understand what is going on in 
our lives?
  Well, this week, during this debate, we are not only going to begin 
addressing the health and economic and educational crises we face, but 
maybe, even more importantly, we are going to begin the process of 
restoring faith in the U.S. Government. Maybe, just maybe, we can do 
what Abraham Lincoln talked about in the midst of the terrible Civil 
War, and that is, be a government and act like a government of the 
people, by the people, and for the people and not just powerful special 
interests and their lobbyists.
  What will this budget resolution mean for the average American? I 
know we are throwing out a lot of numbers; $1.9 trillion is a lot of 
money. What does it actually mean? How is it going to impact the lives 
of ordinary people? Let me just say a few words on that.
  Everybody is concerned about the pandemic, which has taken so many 
lives and caused so much illness and suffering. What this legislation 
is about is an effort to aggressively crush the pandemic and enable the 
American people to return to their jobs and schools by providing the 
funding necessary to establish a national emergency program to produce 
the quantity of vaccines that we need. We need to increase vaccine 
production, and, equally important, we need to significantly improve 
the distribution of vaccines so that we get them into the arms of 
people as quickly as we can.
  What this legislation means is that during this severe economic 
downturn, we must make sure that all Americans--low-income people, 
working-class people, middle-class people--have the financial resources 
that they need to live with dignity. This budget resolution will allow 
us to keep the promises that we made to the American people and 
increase the $600 in direct payments for working-class adults and their 
kids up to $2,000--another $1,400.
  I want you just to think--whether it is Connecticut or Vermont or 
South Carolina or anyplace else--think about, during this terrible 
crisis, what it will mean to an average family to suddenly get a check 
for $5,600 for a family of four on top of the $600 per person that they 
received a few weeks ago. Think about what that will mean to people who 
are losing hope right now.
  Passing this budget resolution will give us the tools we need to 
raise the minimum wage to a living wage of $15 an hour, expand 
unemployment benefits, expand the child tax credit, and prevent 
eviction, homelessness, and hunger.
  Passing this budget resolution means that during this raging 
pandemic, we will be able to provide healthcare to millions of 
Americans who are uninsured and underinsured by expanding Medicaid, 
improving the Affordable Care Act, and other approaches.
  Passing this budget resolution means that we will go a long, long way 
forward to addressing the long-term problem of childhood poverty in 
America, and that is that by expanding the child tax credit, we have 
the opportunity to cut childhood poverty in this country in half and no 
longer be the major country on Earth which has one of the highest rates 
of childhood poverty.
  Let me very briefly mention a few of the specific provisions in the 
budget resolution that will enable the Senate to pass this budget under 
  First, as I just mentioned, the overwhelming majority of the American 
people have told us very loudly and clearly that the $600 direct 
payment that Congress passed in December was a good start but is not 
enough. In this bill, we are going to increase that $600 by another 
  We cannot continue to allow workers in America to work at jobs that 
pay them a starvation wage. A United States of America job should lift 
you out of poverty and not keep you in it. So let us be clear: When we 
increase that minimum wage to $15 an hour, not only will we be 
providing a much needed raise for tens of millions of American workers, 
we will also, by the way, save taxpayers many billions of dollars each 
and every year.
  Moreover, this pandemic has caused tens of millions of American 
workers to lose their jobs through no fault of their own. For 45 
consecutive weeks, unemployment claims have been higher than during the 
worst week of the great recession in 2008. This budget resolution that 
we are considering now will provide the funding necessary to provide 18 
million Americans with $400 a week in supplemental unemployment 
benefits until the end of September.
  So, if you are watching us--if you are watching TV now because you 
are unemployed when you would rather be at work--understand that this 
bill will extend unemployment $400 on top of the normal unemployment 
your State provides until the end of September. We have not forgotten 
the unemployed.
  Further, all of us know that we have a childcare crisis in America. 
It was severe before the pandemic. It is even worse now. This budget 
resolution would begin to provide the resources necessary to provide 
childcare to 875,000 children in America, and it would expand the child 
tax credit from $2,000 to $3,000 and $3,600 for kids under the age of 
6. In other words, we hear what working families are going through, 
especially those who are struggling and hav children. This will be a 
major, major step in improving lives and easing anxiety for young 
couples with kids.

  In addition, let us not forget this pandemic has had a horrific toll 
on the finances of State and local governments, many of which are 
literally on the verge of bankruptcy. Over the past 10 months, State 
and local governments have laid off some 1.4 million workers, including 
50,000 in December alone. These are teachers, firemen, cops, and other 
municipal and State employees. The budget resolution that we are 
debating today will provide $350 billion to prevent mass layoffs of 
public sector workers in State and local governments. The Congressional 
Budget Office has said that the best bang for the buck of all the money 
Congress has passed so far for COVID relief is to aid State and local 
  Further, if there is one thing this horrific pandemic should have 
taught all of us, it is that we must no longer consider healthcare as 
simply an employee benefit. Healthcare must be a human right. It is 
unacceptable to my mind that over 14 million Americans have lost their 
employer-provided health benefits over the past 10 months. Over 14 
million workers have lost their health coverage, impacting even more 
people because there are wives and husbands and children involved as 
  This budget resolution, will, among other healthcare provisions, 
enable the Senate to expand Medicaid. It will allow more Americans to 
receive the primary care that they need through community health 
centers. It will address the serious shortage of doctors and nurses in 
rural areas and inner cities by expanding the National Health Service 
Corps and will make sure that our veterans receive the healthcare that 
they have earned and deserve by increasing funding at the VA by $17 
  In addition, in the wealthiest country on Earth, we can no longer 
tolerate hunger in America, and this budget resolution will enable the 
Senate to provide nutrition assistance to tens of millions of families 
struggling to get the food that they need--and that includes the 
disabled and the elderly--by expanding SNAP, WIC, and the Pandemic EBT 
  In America today, some 14 million Americans owe an average of $5,800 
in back rent. If we do not get our act together, tens of millions of 
Americans will soon face the possibility of being

[[Page S228]]

thrown out of their apartments and homes and onto the streets. This 
budget resolution that we are debating will provide the funding for 
rent relief, utility assistance, and mortgage relief to millions of 
tenants and homeowners who are in danger of eviction or foreclosure.
  It also deals with the shame of homelessness in America. Today, in 
the midst of the dead of winter, we cannot have hundreds of thousands 
of Americans sleeping in homeless shelters, in their cars, or out on 
the streets. And right here, in walking distance from this Capitol, 
there are tents located in parks where Americans are sleeping in the 
middle of the winter.
  This resolution provides investments in appropriate housing that will 
protect the health of our people and help decrease COVID-19 
transmissions with safe and socially distant housing.
  Further, all of us must acknowledge that there is a pension crisis in 
America today. As a result of the greed on Wall Street, workers and 
retirees and multiemployer pension plans are in danger of seeing their 
retirement benefits cut by as much as 65 percent. That is unacceptable. 
Promises were made to those workers, and the U.S. Congress cannot 
renege on those promises.
  Not only is this $1.9 trillion emergency COVID-relief package the 
right thing to do from a moral perspective and a public policy 
perspective, it is exactly what the overwhelming majority of the 
American people want us to do. According to a recent poll from Change 
Research, nearly 70 percent of the American people support President 
Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 plan; 83 percent support boosting direct 
payments from $600 to $2,000; 64 percent support raising the Federal 
minimum wage to 15 bucks an hour; and 62 percent of voters support 
additional unemployment benefits.
  We are living in an unprecedented moment in American history. The 
last year has been a year the likes of which none of us have 
experienced in our lifetime. And the American people, who are living in 
pain, in anxiety, in isolation--they are looking to the U.S. Senate, 
and they are saying: Are you going to hear and understand what we are 
going through? Are you going to do something to address the terrible 
problems in terms of healthcare, the economy, and education that we are 
  It is no great secret that, for many years, the Congress has listened 
very attentively to the needs of billionaires, to the needs of campaign 
contributors, and to the needs of lobbyists. Now is the time for us to 
listen to the needs of working families, the elderly, the children, the 
sick, the disabled, and the poor. Now is the time to restore confidence 
that the American Government works for all of us and not just the few.
  I urge passage of this important, important piece of legislation.
  With that, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from South Carolina.
  Mr. GRAHAM. Mr. President, I will be responding to my good friend 
Senator Sanders. Apparently, I will be the ranking member on Budget; he 
will be the chairman. And I look forward to finding some common ground 
where we can. Today is not that day, but hope springs eternal. There 
are things I think we can do on the Budget Committee that will be good 
for the country.
  Here is the other side of the story. About a year ago--a little over 
a year ago--the pandemic coming out of China was detected, COVID, on 
the west coast of the United States. It has just done a number on us as 
a nation. Over 440,000 people have died from COVID-related infections. 
We finally got vaccines. They are in the pipeline. We need to get them 
out quicker, but I do believe that the vaccines are going to help us a 
  To the American people who have been suffering, I think better days 
lie ahead, but we are not there yet.
  But here is what is different. February 2, 2021, things changed. Up 
until now, we have been able, as a Congress and with the White House, 
to pass things together regarding COVID. We passed over $4 trillion of 
COVID relief in a bipartisan fashion up until today. Now, how was that 
  You had a Republican President--President Trump--working with a 
Democratic-controlled House and a Republican-controlled Senate 
beginning of January--I guess, March of last year. Here is what we were 
able to do together. Phase 1, we approved 96 to 1 the Coronavirus 
Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2020. It 
was $8 billion. That was early on last year when we really didn't know 
what we were dealing with.
  Then, we did $355 billion, 90 to 8. Then, the next was $1.9 trillion. 
Listen to this: We spent $1.9 trillion, 96 to nothing. So it is not 
like we don't see a need to spend money. Ninety-six to nothing, this 
body agreed to spend $1.9 trillion last year.
  After that, we did the paycheck protection enhancement of $355 
billion by voice vote. It is not like people on this side don't see a 
  We had a continuing resolution where we added another $8 billion, 84 
to 10.
  In the omnibus, we did another $1.04 trillion, 92 to 6.
  So when you add all this up, we have appropriated $4 trillion to deal 
with the problems associated with COVID--money for people who have been 
struggling, money for hospitals and doctors, money for vaccine 
development and distribution, direct payments, the PPP program to keep 
small businesses from going under that can't operate at full capacity. 
It has been a great program. It was bipartisan until now.
  Here is what I want the American people to know: We have done a lot 
together, and of the $4 trillion we have appropriated, to date, we have 
spent $2.7 trillion.
  Of the Federal Reserve actions we took allowing the Federal Reserve 
to help business, we had a $5.7 trillion market cap, for lack of a 
better term, and we have allocated $2.6 trillion.
  The bottom line is, of the $900 billion that we passed recently--a 
little over $900 billion--we have only spent 20 percent of the money. 
And here we are being asked for another $1.9 trillion.
  What is different between the first $1.9 trillion and this request? 
When it was first offered, the $1.9 trillion, it was the largest single 
appropriation, I think, maybe in the history of the country since World 
War II. And the fact that 96 Senators would come together and pass it 
96 to nothing tells you about the way we saw the problem. And we have 
been adding and adding and adding.
  Now we are to a point where the Biden administration is proposing 
$1.9 trillion of additional spending. We haven't spent the money we 
have allocated--nowhere near the money we have allocated. And you have 
a bipartisan group of Republicans--10--who went to the White House 
yesterday and said: What about a little over $600 billion? See if that 
is enough
  I am afraid the answer is going to be no.
  So what has happened here? Democratic colleagues have won the White 
House. And Biden is President; he won. It is a 50-50 Senate. The Vice 
President makes it a Democratic-controlled body, to the extent that the 
Vice President breaks ties. And you have a smaller majority in the 
House than we have had in the last 20 years. But the consequence of 
what I have just described is that my Democratic colleagues are now in 
charge of everything.
  When it was divided government--when you had a Republican President, 
a Republican Senate, and a Democratic House--we were able to come 
together with overwhelming votes to help the American people. Now we 
find ourselves at a crossroads. Our Democratic colleagues are using a 
process called budget reconciliation that begins today that would allow 
them to pass the $1.9 trillion basically on a party-line vote--a simple 
majority, not reaching the 60-vote milestone.
  The 60-vote problem was never a problem up until now because 
Republicans and Democrats were able to work together up until now. What 
changed? They have got it all. Everything we told you would happen in 
the election is coming true. You have one party in control of 
Washington, and they are seizing the moment.
  What a $15-an-hour minimum wage has to do with fighting COVID, I 
don't know. But I do know this, now is the worst possible time to 
increase the cost on small businesses in South Carolina in the 
restaurant-hospitality industry. You are about to hit them with two 
government mandates that are going to put them out of business. They 
are all struggling.
  A lot of States have reduced capability in terms of indoor dining. 

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think last week, for the first time, you could dine indoors at 25-
percent capacity. States all over the country have different rules 
about how small business operates.
  The tourist industry is just about squashed. So people in the 
hospitality industry, in the restaurant business, and in the service 
industry, if this bill passes the way it has been proposed, are going 
to have a $15-per-hour per-employee mandate. That is going to sink 
them. They are going to have to lay a lot of people off because they 
are barely making it as it is.
  Here is what we are doing to those businesses. State and local 
governments are mandating a reduction in revenue. Why? Because you 
reduce the capability to earn money by reducing seating capacity and 
the other things associated with fighting COVID. So what does the 
Congress do? Do we relieve that burden by having more PPP? No. We 
increase your cost of doing business.
  This $15-an-hour minimum wage increase will dramatically increase the 
cost of doing business to small businesses at a time they can afford it 
the least. There are people out there working today that will be out of 
work tomorrow if this bill passes.
  My Democratic colleagues have taken the energy sector head-on. They 
stopped the Keystone Pipeline. I don't know how many thousands of jobs 
would be affected by that. But all of these mandates and all of these 
changes in policies are making it really hard right now to employ 
  So count me in for more COVID relief once I understand how the money 
we have previously allocated has been spent.
  I think continuing to spend at this level, without understanding what 
the money in the past has done, is not very responsible. We have only 
spent 20 percent of the $900 billion we passed just a few weeks ago. 
Now we are going to do $1.9 trillion more?
  Of the $4 trillion we did together, $2.7 trillion has been spent. 
Over $1 trillion is sitting there not spent yet.
  So I guess the point I am trying to make, and my Republican 
colleagues, is that this $1.9 trillion package, there has been no 
effort to make it bipartisan. We are spending a lot more money before 
we understand how the money we spent actually works. And some of the 
policy provisions in this package, I think, are going to do more damage 
to the economy that is struggling to get back on its feet than good. 
But they have the power, and they are using it.
  He is right, Senator Sanders. When we had this authority, we cut your 
taxes through budget reconciliation. That is what we did, so it is not 
like Republicans haven't used this process. Democrats used it pretty 
much to pass ObamaCare. But this is one area where there has been 
pretty much a common view of things.
  Taxes are different between Republicans and Democrats. Who decides 
what healthcare you get--there are some people like my good friend from 
Vermont who wants single-payer healthcare. That is one way of doing it. 
I just disagree. Everything is about trying to help people. I don't 
doubt the motives; I just doubt where we are headed is a good outcome 
for the American people.
  So the bottom line is, up until now, we have had bipartisanship when 
it comes to COVID relief. The reason that bipartisanship has stopped is 
because we have one party in control of the U.S. Senate, the House, and 
the White House.
  Here is what I think: That is going to end not well because it is not 
like we don't want to help people; we just have a different view of how 
to help. And we would like to let some of the money we have already 
appropriated go to work and see how well it works and fill in gaps 
where you need to fill in gaps.
  Count me in for more payments, direct payments, beyond $600. Count me 
out for giving $2,000 payments to people who make almost $200,000 a 
year. I think it needs to be more targeted. I don't mind having more 
direct payments; I would like to make it more targeted. And I don't 
mind discussing raising the minimum wage when the COVID problem passes 
and we get back on our feet; I do mind doubling it in the middle of a 
  And I do believe that this $1.9 trillion package is going to do more 
harm than good to the American economy.
  The reason we are having this debate the way we are having this 
debate is because they have unlimited power, my Democratic colleagues.
  You have chosen to do this. The 10 Republicans who went down to the 
White House--I appreciate their effort. Maybe some good will come from 
that. But this process we are engaged in today makes me wonder if it 
was worth their time. Maybe we can pull a rabbit out of the hat and 
find a bipartisan compromise consistent with what we have done over the 
last year. If not, we are going to march down the reconciliation road. 
We are going to take $1.9 trillion of spending and let one party spend 
it. We are going to have one point of view about this money. We are 
going to let people spend $1.9 trillion without any input from the 
other side of the aisle, in a 50-50 divided Senate.

  I don't know what you got from the last election. Here is what I got: 
We did better in the House than I thought we would do; President Trump 
lost, but it was still a close election from an electoral college point 
of view; and the Senate is 50-50. I don't think the message from the 
last election was ``We want Democrats to spend $1.9 trillion and deal 
Republicans out.'' That is exactly what you are doing.
  It would be different if we had had a history over here of trying not 
to help. We were able, 96 to 0, to spend $1.9 trillion less than a year 
ago. And now we want to spend $1.9 trillion again--after the money 
previously allocated hasn't been spent?
  All I am suggesting to my Democratic colleagues is, we are going to 
have a different view on taxes, and we are going to have a different 
view on healthcare, but this is the one area where I really do believe 
there is a bipartisan middle ground to be had.
  To Senator Sanders, there may come a time where I will work with you 
to raise the minimum wage.
  The PPP program has been highly successful. The $600 billion proposal 
by Republicans has more money for that. It has more direct payments, 
but it is more targeted.
  Senator Manchin said that he wants more direct payments, but he wants 
it targeted to people on the lower economic end.
  Mike Rounds--one of our colleagues from South Dakota--got a check.
  The bottom line is, I don't mind helping people, but there has to be 
some sense that we can't just constantly write checks and hope one day 
that doesn't come back to bite us.
  One thing about a $15-an-hour minimum wage now--I think what it does 
is put pressure on businesses that can't stand any more pressure. It is 
going to cost people jobs that have a job. It is going to do more harm 
than good in this environment.
  When you combine the mandate of increasing wages where the $15 an 
hour is the least wage and add what we are doing in terms of 
restricting income generation, that is a formula for disaster for small 
  This is it. If this bill passes the way it is written, there are 
going to be thousands of people out of work who were previously working 
in a small business that is going to fold. How does that help COVID?
  If you don't believe that, you are not really walking and talking to 
the people out there on the frontlines of this economy. The tourism 
industry in Myrtle Beach, SC, has been decimated. You can't fly from 
one State to the other without a 2-week quarantine. Hopefully, that 
will begin to pass when we get vaccine distribution at a higher level. 
But people along the coast of South Carolina in the hospitality tourism 
business are hanging by a thread.
  The PPP program has been a lifeline. The last $900 billion package 
had a new round of PPP money. If we need more money, count me in. 
Again, I would like to have a higher direct payment but not to people 
who make $150,000, $200,000 in combined income.
  This package is going to be devastating to the hospitality service 
industry. It is going to take us down a path we haven't gone before, 
which is a partisan approach to COVID. And I do believe--and maybe I am 
wrong--that with some effort on our part, we can reconcile the 
difference between what our Republican colleagues proposed and what 
President Biden has proposed and find some middle ground like we have 
in the past, but there doesn't seem to be a real effort to do that.
  All I can say is that the American people want us to work together 

[[Page S230]]

their benefit, and this will be the first time that I can recall where 
we have spent $1.9 trillion based on one party's view of things. That 
is not good. That is a lot of money--and it is so unnecessary.
  I would encourage Senator Sanders and my colleagues on the other side 
to give a chance to this negotiation and see if we can get there. I 
hope we can, but this is not the right way. What we are doing today is 
going to set into motion partisanship where there was previous 
  President Biden said he wanted to unify the Nation. You have picked 
the one topic that we have been pretty unified on, and you are going to 
disrupt that unification.
  The first COVID package had a $600 Federal supplement to State 
unemployment benefits, and I looked at that. My family was in the 
restaurant business. Senator Sanders gave statistics about support of 
the public. You are literally paying people more not to work than work.
  I want to help people because they are out of work--no fault of their 
own because of COVID--but when we went to $600, we were paying people 
$23 an hour, I think, in South Carolina not to work. That did not go 
over well with the public at large. We are trying to reduce that 
Federal supplement down to $300, not $600, to help people who are out 
of work but not to incentivize people not to go back to work when the 
economy is beginning to open.
  In this package, we go back to $400, and it goes all the way to 
September, which means it is going to be harder to hire people back 
when the economy does show signs of reopening. And it is beginning to 
show signs of coming back. The faster the vaccine is distributed, the 
more people who get inoculated, the sooner we can go back to business.
  I would just say to my Democratic colleagues: You have chosen this 
path. All of us are going to vote no to $1.9 trillion in spending--not 
because we don't care; it is because we would like to see what the 
money we spent in the past is doing before we add another $1.9 
  A lot of the provisions in your proposal, we think, have very little, 
if anything, to do with COVID, and it would be unfortunate if we go 
down this road. But we are not in charge.
  Now, 2022 will be here before you know it. Hopefully, by 2022, we 
will have th American people build up immunity to COVID, and our 
economy will come back the way it was before the COVID pandemic. Before 
the pandemic, the economy was doing well for all sectors of the 
American people. I think one of the things that helped was that tax cut 
that Senator Sanders opposed. But we can have political debates about 

  The point I am trying to make is, up until this moment in time, we 
have been able to achieve overwhelming bipartisan support dealing with 
the COVID problem that we all face. It really is disappointing and 
disheartening that we are going to abandon that model when I don't 
think we have to. But that will be up to my Democratic colleagues. That 
will be up to President Biden.

                          Biden Administration

  And finally, a message to President Biden: You won; we lost. You are 
the legitimate President of the United States. I want to help you where 
I can. I just got a briefing about what you are proposing in 
Afghanistan. I think it is darned good.
  There are plenty of things we can do around here together--on foreign 
policy and domestic policy. It doesn't have to be a fight to the death 
all the time.
  The infrastructure bill is there for the taking. I think most 
Americans realize our roads and our bridges and our ports need 
upgrading, and count me in for that. There are things that we can do.
  President Biden, you can do something too. You can say: Slow down in 
the Senate. Slow down in the House. I am going to see if I can find 
middle ground.
  I am telling you right now that $1.9 trillion being spent the way 
this bill envisions is not responsible. We haven't spent the money we 
have previously allocated. There is a lot in this bill that will cost 
jobs at a time we need jobs, and you are not going to help the COVID 
crisis by putting somebody out of work because of a government mandate 
that business can't afford to fulfill because they are hanging by a 
  We will have some time in the next couple of days to talk about what 
is in the package, what is not, our view of how this thing should all 
unfold. I will yield back here with a sense of optimism.
  To my Republican colleagues who went to talk to the White House, 
count me in. If you can work something out, I would like to be able to 
help. It is not like there is not some more money that can be spent, 
but this approach--the way you are spending the money, the amount of 
money in this approach, I think, is going to make this place less 
unified. If you are looking for unity, this is a lousy way to get it.
  With that, I yield.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Oregon.
  Mr. WYDEN. Mr. President, we have already begun to hear a little 
revisionist history with respect to this crucial issue. There was 
exactly one amendment on the CARES Act, and that amendment, supported 
by almost every Senator on the other side of the aisle, basically would 
have blown up the law that I put special focus on because it was deemed 
the only way to get expanded unemployment benefits out to folks in a 
timely way.
  We were told that there was all this bipartisanship. Yet on the 
crucial issue, that wasn't the case because that benefit, in 
particular, is what helped scores and scores of communities all across 
the country stay afloat because that money was spent locally. It was 
spent on rent. It was spent on groceries. And most of all, it was 
weekly. Yet there was exactly one amendment on the original 
legislation, and that one amendment was to blow up the only way to get 
checks out to folks relatively quickly--point No. 1.
  Point No. 2, these were not folks who didn't want to work. They were 
told by their government--told by their government--that they really 
needed to be at home to deal with the virus. These folks want to work; 
there is no question about it.
  We are going to talk about this, I imagine, in this debate, but study 
after study has shown that the expanded unemployment during this period 
was not a disincentive to work. There is just no evidence of that. In 
fact, when we look at crucial periods of time when people might have 
stayed home, they were rushing to get back to work.
  We are going to discuss this, and I am going to start the debate now 
on where we are at this moment because I think this discussion comes 
down to a simple proposition; that is, whether millions of workers and 
their families should have to spend years and years living in the 
wreckage of the COVID economy. The jobs recovery for millions is going 
in reverse.
  Millions of Americans have lost jobs through no fault of their own. 
Maybe they were working at the airport. Maybe they were tending bar. 
Maybe they were teaching our kids when the worst pandemic--the worst 
pandemic in a century--swept the United States. They didn't do anything 
  The question now is whether the U.S. Senate is going to step in with 
big policies to actually be of help to them or whether it is going to 
quit on those workers when they need a modest amount of assistance 
until everybody gets vaccinated.
  President Biden has a strong, focused plan that is going to meet the 
moment, get relief to workers in the middle class, and kick-start the 
jobs recovery. The plan that was brought forward yesterday by 10 
Republican Senators doesn't come close to meeting that bar.
  The debate isn't a whole lot more complicated than that. I am glad 
that there is some agreement on both sides for funding vaccines. Yet 
the economic divide in this debate is very clear.
  Here are the key facts as we start this discussion. The independent 
experts at the Congressional Budget Office released a new report 
yesterday that shows how long-lasting this jobs crisis is really going 
to be. According to the Budget Office, it could be more than 5 years 
before the unemployment rate even begins to approach where it was a 
year ago.
  Millions of workers could stay stuck on an economic tightrope, 
worried about eviction, worried about going hungry, wages to flatline 
for the better part of the decade.

[[Page S231]]

  Americans know what happens when Congress takes its foot off the gas, 
slows down the recovery, because that is what happened a little bit 
over a decade ago--12 years exactly. The great recession hit, but in 
early 2009, the Senate decided, we are going to go small. I was around. 
Everybody was told: You know, not so bad if you go small because the 
Senate will get a second bite at the apple. Nobody ever got a second 
bite at the apple, and workers suffered and suffered some more. In my 
home State, it took 7\1/2\ years in Oregon for the unemployment rate to 
fall back to where it was before the recession.
  Recent history tells us you have to go big. We are hearing from 
economic experts telling the Senate to go big. Treasury Secretary 
Yellen, fresh off her unanimous, 26-to-0 vote in the Finance Committee, 
and Fed Chair Powell are saying: Go small and you make a big mistake.
  That is why the outline that a group of my Republican colleagues 
brought forward this week just does not get the job done. It is the 
same playbook as 2009, and it leaves too many workers on the economic 
tightrope for years to come.
  The budget resolution before the Senate has some big solutions on the 
economy and for our workers. Right off the top, it makes investments in 
vaccines and care that is needed to end the pandemic as quickly as 
possible. This is the No. 1 way to get the lives of Americans back to 
normal. It is not going to happen overnight.
  In the meantime, our economy needs another rescue package. That is 
what the resolution, the budget resolution, essentially sets up. It is 
hard to figure, when you are at home, all of the legalese and lingo, 
but now we are really dealing with the lives and the well-being of the 
American people, and this is what starts us in the right direction.
  Here are three examples of why this resolution is so important.
  First, it sends big financial support to jobless Americans. There is 
not going to be a full jobs recovery as long as it is unsafe to go to 
restaurants indoors or go to conventions or pack fans in the basketball 
arenas. Those workers need help.
  As I mentioned when we heard a little revisionist history on the 
expanded unemployment earlier, as the ranking Democrat on the Finance 
Committee, I negotiated the $600-per-week boost and expansion of 
unemployment insurance last year in the CARES Act. It was an economic 
lifesaver for workers who used that money to pay rent, to buy 
groceries, and to cover the cost of medicine. I still have those 
workers come up to me and say: Ron, I heard about what was going on in 
the Senate. You all gave me the money to pay for my car insurance, 
because if I didn't have that car insurance, life in our family would 
just fall apart.
  So contrary to what we heard earlier--and during the course of this 
debate, I am going to put several studies into the Record. There has 
never been hard evidence that enhanced, expanded unemployment benefits 
in any way held back the recovery. In fact, when enhanced unemployment 
benefits expired last summer, the job recovery actually slowed down.
  In December, our colleagues on the other side extended unemployment 
insurance just to mid-March, and they cut the additional benefit in 
half. I believe that was also a big mistake. Between the worst economy 
since World War II and the pandemic entering its second year in 
America, you couldn't find a worse time for Senators to start nickel-
and-diming workers--hard-hit workers--out of the relief they so 
desperately need.
  As I noted, there was just one vote, only one vote in the original 
CARES package, and that vote was led by my colleagues who would have 
blown up the only way to get benefits in a relatively quick way out to 
millions of workers.
  In my hometown, the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment is 
$1,750. Traditional unemployment insurance benefits don't come anywhere 
near paying that rent. If you are a single parent trying to raise one 
or two kids, even with the expanded benefit, you are barely making ends 
meet. If you are a two-income household, it can also be a big struggle. 
Nobody is going out buying boats with their unemployment insurance 
benefits. They are spending it at corner stores, local markets, going 
to the pharmacy, paying for medicine for kids who aren't feeling well.
  The budget resolution before the Senate calls for a 6-month extension 
with an extra boost of $400 per week. It is a proposal that I support. 
In later packages, I want colleagues to know, I am going to keep 
pushing for the full $600. And I believe that Congress ought to tie the 
extension of unemployment benefits to economic conditions in our 
communities, to economic conditions on the ground. It is just common 
  Unemployment insurance works best when it covers all workers, when it 
pays an adequate benefit, and when Members of the U.S. Senate can't 
politicalize it by setting arbitrary dates and setting up cliffs when 
people are going to get cut off of those benefits.
  Second, the budget resolution helps bring back jobs. The RESTAURANTS 
Act is a vital jobs program. It will save a lot of jobs in one of the 
industries hardest hit by the pandemic, and it is particularly 
important because a lot of restaurants weren't able to take advantage 
of the PPP, the Paycheck Protection Program.
  Another key jobs proposal that is part of this resolution is help for 
States and localities. I want to make something clear for the record 
about State and local funding because this has been attacked by our 
colleagues on the other side since last March. I would bet my last 
dollar that somebody will come down to the Senate floor this week and 
rail about the so-called blue State bailout and say it is all waste. 
That is nonsense.
  State and local funding is first and foremost about jobs that are a 
lifeline. It is about firefighters. It is about road crews. It is about 
sanitation workers. It is about public health employees. It is about 
teachers. It has nothing to do with red States or blue States; it is 
about saving people's jobs in communities across the country, and those 
are jobs where they are out saving people's lives. Nearly 1.5 million 
of these essential workers have already lost their jobs since the 
pandemic began, and unless Congress provides funding to States and 
localities, even more will be laid off this year.
  Third, the budget resolution is going to put money into the pockets 
of working families and the middle class. The fact is, tens of millions 
of American families are literally one financial setback away from 
devastation. That should have been clear before the pandemic. There is 
certainly no denying it today
  Increasing relief checks to $2,000 is going to help, especially 
because so many workers have lost hours or taken lower paying jobs than 
they had a year ago. But the budget resolution also includes fresh 
ideas from President Biden and colleagues on this side to increase 
family incomes--first and foremost, expanding the earned income tax 
credit and the child tax credit. In my view, this is long overdue.
  People always ask, well, what is it really going to do? What is it 
going to do that is meaningful to our country? What we are told is that 
effort is going to cut child poverty in half. Just try to put your arms 
around that.
  When you go home to talk to folks and they ask, hey, what is going on 
there, you can say, I am part of an effort--a sensible effort which for 
many years had some real Republican support--I am supportive of an 
effort to cut child poverty in half, give millions and millions of 
families a chance to get ahead. It sure sounds to me that a policy like 
that is a no-brainer.
  I am going to close by briefly addressing arguments I have heard 
coming from the other side.
  First, I heard a number of Members say that the price tag is too 
high. Well, I will tell you, if you voted for Donald Trump's deficit-
financed handouts to multinational corporations and billionaires, you 
cannot credibly argue that the relief for workers is fiscally reckless. 
And the fact is, the deficit isn't going to get better until 
unemployment comes down and the economy gets back to strong and 
consistent growth.
  Second, I have heard some Senators suggest that the budget resolution 
is bad for unity. My answer to that is, the only place where big, bold 
economic relief is a divisive proposition is within the four walls of 
the U.S. Senate. We have seen the polls--overwhelming support for these 
key positions, the key

[[Page S232]]

policies that are part of this budget resolution. I would submit to my 
colleagues, the only place where there is really a strong division on 
the value of this budget resolution is within the four walls of the 
  The last point is a little bit personal. The President of the Senate 
and I have known each other a lot of years. We worked very closely in 
the other body and here. I, over time, have gotten a fair amount of 
flak for sometimes being too bipartisan, doing too much to try to bring 
both sides together. I always will say--always--it is better if you can 
find common ground.
  But calls for unity aren't supposed to be a political baseball bat 
where you club somebody. They are supposed to be real. They are 
supposed to be about finding common ground, not about stalling for the 
sole purpose of stalling.
  What you see in this budget resolution is exactly the kind of plan 
that Americans voted for and the overwhelming majority of Americans 
support. That is why I am strongly behind this resolution.
  As a senior member of our party on the Finance Committee, I am 
looking forward to a lot of debate on this issue. That is why I felt it 
was important to step in when we heard some revisionist history from 
the other side that there hadn't been any partisanship. There sure was 
on that very first vote on the CARES Act.
  This is an important debate. What is really most important is that 
while we continue to listen to our colleagues on the other side, while 
we continue to reach out, which I am committed to do, the U.S. Senate 
get this job done because there is too much economic hurt in America to 
do otherwise.
  We have another unemployment cliff coming in just a few weeks. 
Technically, the date is March 14. That is when the next round of 
unemployment expires. I really think we have to get this done by the 
beginning of March. There is no time to waste.
  I urge my colleagues to support the resolution, as I will.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Markey). The Senator from Iowa.


  Mr. GRASSLEY. Mr. President, I come to the floor to bring up the 
point that there must be equal attention to the dangers of extremism, 
whether it is extremism of the right or extremism of the left.
  We have all been horrified by the senseless criminal acts that 
occurred at the U.S. Capitol on January 6 of this year. A violent mob 
was able to overrun Capitol Police and quickly gain access to the area 
where a joint session of Congress was being held. Five people, 
including a Capitol Police officer, died as a result of this attack.
  I hope that together, Republicans and Democrats, we can get to the 
bottom of what occurred on that day and ensure that it never happens 
  In the spirit of collaboration, I must direct everyone's attention to 
something that has occurred to me, and that is the need to condemn all 
political violence regardless of ideology. Like many Americans, I have 
been deeply troubled by the rioting, looting, anti-police attacks, and 
deaths that have occurred this summer.
  While many very legitimately protested the death of George Floyd in a 
peaceful manner, consistent with their rights under the First 
Amendment, thousands of others did not do it in a peaceful manner and 
probably did it for a lot of other reasons than just George Floyd's 
death. One of the most upsetting aspects of the violence of this summer 
has been how it has targeted innocent law enforcement officers. Over 
700 officers were injured between May 27 and June 8, 2020. This number 
is likely underreported as nearly 300 of those injuries occurred only 
in New York City.
  Acting Deputy Homeland Security Secretary Ken Cuccinelli testified at 
a hearing in front of the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution 
that there had been 277 Federal officer injuries at the Federal 
courthouse in Portland, adding further to that total previously given 
to you. Officers were assaulted nightly there for months--slashed, hard 
objects thrown at them, struck with objects like hammers and baseball 
bats, even blinded by lasers.
  In another offensive, 60 Secret Service officers were injured during 
a sustained attack on the White House, which caused then-President 
Trump to be taken to a secure bunker. The church across the street from 
the White House was lit on fire as part of that continued assault. Over 
300 people were charged federally for their roles in these weeks and 
months of violence. Eighty of those charges related to the use of arson 
and explosives. Others involved assaults on officers and the 
destruction of government property.
  However, the nationwide riots, which broke out in nearly every major 
city in the country, were predominantly State offenses. At least 14,000 
people were arrested in 49 cities. At least 25 people died in violence 
related to the riots. Property Claim Services--a company that tracks 
insurance claims relating to riots and civil disorders--estimates that 
the insurance losses from the summer's civil unrest ``far outstrip'' 
all previous records to possibly exceed $2 billion.
  It has been a relatively frequent sight at the summer's violent 
events to see individuals acting in coordination in all black bloc, 
holding the ``A'' symbol of antifa. An admitted antifa adherent in 
Portland murdered a conservative protester. Antifa supporters have been 
charged federally for promoting riots and using Molotov cocktails. 
While that violence has slackened now since President Biden's electoral 
victory was declared, it has far from abated. Antifa rioters attacked 
the Oregon Democratic Party's headquarters on inauguration day itself. 
The far left of this country continues to believe violence will get 
more attention for their causes even after a Democratic victory win for 
the White House.
  Much of the violence of the summer was specifically investigated by 
the FBI as domestic terrorism. FBI Director Chris Wray provides 
statistics on domestic terrorism in his annual threats testimony. He 
has previously testified that 900 to 1,000 domestic terrorism 
investigations exist at any given time. There are also about 1,000--
what they call--homegrown violent extremism investigations. These are 
cases in which an entirely U.S.-based person without direct contact 
with a foreign terrorist organization is motivated by the global 
jihadist movement, and, of course, there are thousands more 
international terrorism investigations.
  Former U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox testified in a subcommittee 
hearing that over 300 domestic terrorism cases were opened due to the 
violence just this past summer. This is a significant increase in the 
ordinary amount of domestic terrorism in the United States. That this 
violence occurred--and the facts and the figures that surround it--
should not be news to anyone. However, I must admit that I have been 
extremely surprised by the responses of Democratic Members to this 
  For weeks and months, the most consistent response seemed to be to 
deny the violence was occurring at all. I saw Jerrold Nadler on TV--the 
chairman of the House Judiciary Committee--deny that antifa itself was 
real. In a nationally televised debate with then-President Trump, then-
Candidate Joe Biden wrongly stated that antifa was only an ``idea.'' 
This is even after FBI Director Wray had already testified to Congress 
that antifa was absolutely a ``real thing'' and that the FBI had cases 
and investigations against those calling themselves ``antifa.''
  It seems that some Democrats are living in a different world than 
those who have seen businesses boarded up, if not burned out, images of 
violence in the streets, and terrifying attacks on police officers. 
When the violence was admitted by those same people, it seemed to have 
been condone rather than condemned.

  Now, Vice President Harris previously said:

       They're not going to stop, and everyone, beware. [ . . . ] 
     And they should not, and we should not.

  You have seen that quote many times on various TV channels. Our new 
Vice President did not disclaim the rioting and unrest and direct her 
followers only to lawful action.
  Congresswoman Pressley stated: ``There needs to be unrest in the 
streets for as long as there is unrest in our lives.''
  Speaker Pelosi famously said this on the widespread property damage. 
As you saw, when asked about it, she was quoted as saying: ``People 
will do what they do.'' That is a direct quote from

[[Page S233]]

her, and you have seen that many times on television.
  Now, that indifference that seems to be expressed in those and in a 
lot of other quotations we could give to the violence that our 
constituents were enduring was dramatically shattered when a violent 
riot came to this building itself. After that event, many Members of 
Congress asked why a more militarized force had not protected them from 
a group of then-President Trump supporters who had turned violent. 
Police officers were again considered heroes and protectors unlike last 
summer when they were attacked. The presence of National Guard members 
was all of a sudden welcomed rather than decried unlike last summer, in 
cities like Portland and Seattle, when mayors condemned, maybe, the 
President or the Federal Government, generally, for interfering and 
trying to bring peace to those cities.
  Many of the people of this country would like to have such resources 
available to them to ensure their safety, like every weekend in Chicago 
when there are dozens of people hurt by shootings and a lot of people 
killed in that same weekend.
  Since the day of the attack on the Capitol, I have heard much of a 
renewed focus among my Democratic colleagues on combating domestic 
terrorism and political violence, and there is nothing wrong with 
combating domestic terrorism and political violence. That is why my 
first words today were that there needs to be equal attention to the 
danger of terrorism, whether it is of the left or of the right. As I 
indicated in my words just stated, this is very much welcomed--any 
attention we can give to domestic terrorism and political violence--and 
I hope that we will be able to work together to keep Americans safe.
  However, any work that we do in this area must be focused on 
preventing violence no matter what ideology is given to justify that 
violence. In fact, in a recent Department of Homeland Security 
bulletin, that bulletin noted the breadth of potential threats we may 
be facing after the Capitol riot, including domestic violent extremists 
``motivated by a range of issues, including anger over COVID-19 
restrictions, the 2020 election results, and police use of force'' as 
well as ``racial and ethnic tension'' and homegrown violent extremists 
``inspired by foreign terrorist groups.''
  The response that I have seen to the Capitol riot here in Congress 
has not given me hope that we are in agreement about combating this 
broad range of threats in the spirit of giving equal attention to the 
dangers of domestic terrorism or any kind of violation of law, whether 
it comes from the right or the left. I have seen that many Democratic 
Members of Congress seem to be discussing the need to combat White 
supremacism with reference to the Capitol riot. I am not going to find 
fault with anybody who talks about any race of any kind thinking they 
are supreme to anybody else because we are all individuals that God 
loves, and if we were to return that love, we wouldn't have a lot of 
problems in this country.
  We must absolutely combat White supremacism, wherever it occurs, and 
we have a responsibility to understand the true factors that led to the 
attack on this building. I hope to learn more from law enforcement over 
the coming weeks and months about what the involvement of White 
supremacists or any other extremist was in this attack.
  However, I am concerned that the use of the term may have a different 
purpose: to try to portray any supporters of former President Trump, 
who garnered over 74 million votes in the most recent election, as 
White supremacists.
  Congresswoman Cori Bush stated on the House floor that former 
President Trump was a ``white supremacist president who incited a white 
supremacist insurrection.'' I hope everyone can agree that such 
rhetorical and inaccurate characterizations are dangerous.
  More concerning seems to be the idea that violence committed by the 
far left or for left-leaning ideologies is in some way tolerable 
because of the left's assessment that the purpose of all that violence 
is somehow noble. However, right-leaning thought, whether accompanied 
by violence or not, is considered terroristic.
  Former CIA Director John Brennan, whose credibility has been 
questioned, praised incoming President Biden's inaugural reference to 
defeating ``white supremacy'' and likened libertarians to ``religious 
extremists, authoritarians, fascists, bigots, racists, nativists.''
  It is hard to see how libertarian political philosophy, a mainstream 
conservative political ideology which is scarcely in any way associated 
with violence, is related to the other terms that Mr. Brennan lists, 
unless, of course, Mr. Brennan is simply referring to religious 
Americans as religious extremists, or those who believe in the rule of 
law rather than antifa rioting as ``authoritarians'' and ``fascists,'' 
or those who believe in having a functioning immigration system as 
somehow they seem to be bigots or racists or nativists.
  In short, these are all terms that are applied regularly and unfairly 
to conservative Americans using peaceful means to argue for their ideas 
of religious freedom, law and order, and secure borders, and probably a 
lot of other things that they argue for. Congresswoman Jackie Speier 
was even more direct in a tweet, suggesting that all Republicans be 
labeled terrorists.
  As a body, we may begin looking into domestic terrorism more 
generally. I look forward to so doing. I am sure all Members will share 
my commitment that the focus of our inquiry should be on all of the 
politically motivated violence we have seen in this country and not 
somehow just a subset of that politically motivated violence. The men 
and women of this Nation who have been affected by antifa and other 
leftwing extremists are entitled to much more than a cursory 
acknowledgment of that fact. Likewise, I hope no part of our effort 
will focus on demonizing the peaceful expression of ideas with which 
Democratic Members disagree.
  I will be sharing the ideas that I have on this subject and these 
concerns that I have stated today directly with my friend, the incoming 
Senate Judiciary chairman, Senator Durbin. He will get a letter from 
me, and I look forward to working with Senator Durbin on the path 
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Connecticut.

                      Gun Violence Survivors Week

  Mr. MURPHY. Mr. President, rightfully, when we talk about the issue 
of gun violence in this country, we think about it through the prism of 
those lives that have been lost because the numbers are just stunning. 
They are hard to get your head wrapped around.
  Here are the rough numbers in front of me. On an average year, we 
have 39,000 people who lose their lives through a gunshot wound. That 
is a suicide, a homicide, an accidental shooting, domestic violence 
crimes. If you break it down, that is around 100 people a day, and 
there is no other high-income nation in the world that comes anywhere 
  We talk about the issue of gun violence through the prism of people 
whose lives have been lost because it is so morally disrupting, 
cataclysmic, when you have a loved one--normally, a young loved one, a 
brother or sister, a child--who is there one instant and then gone the 
next because of a random shooting.
  I always get drawn back to the people whom I have been lucky enough 
to have had access to and friendships with in Connecticut. One of them 
is Janet Rice.
  Janet lost her son Shane, who was 20 at the time, to a gunshot wound 
back in 2012. It was actually only a month and a half before the Sandy 
Hook shooting.
  Shane was just selling a car to some acquaintances, and the 
conversation went off the rails. There was some pushing and shoving. 
There was a gun fired, and Shane was dead.
  It is really hard for Janet to describe how her life changed. She 
talks a lot about in those early months and years really not being able 
to even leave the house. She would drive a couple of blocks to the 
corner grocery store because she just didn't want to walk down the 
street and encounter friends and have to talk about what happened.
  She had this habit of waking up in th middle of the night and driving 
her car down to where Shane was shot, which is only about two blocks 
from where I live in Hartford. She would arrive there in the middle of 
the night, she would pull up in the parking lot,

[[Page S234]]

and she would turn on her high beams, half expecting that Shane was 
going to show up.

  Her life is fundamentally different today than it was when Shane was 
in her life. And I have no idea what it is like to lose a child. I have 
no idea what it is like to lose a loved one to gun violence. But we 
talk about it in these terms because it is absolutely catastrophic when 
you lose somebody that way.
  This week, though, is Gun Violence Survivors Week. This week we focus 
on those who survived gunshot wounds, and I think I hate to tell you 
this, but the numbers are much worse. More people survive gunshot 
wounds than are killed by gunshot wounds, and that wound can change 
your life as well.
  It can inflict you with physical pain that you can never get over, 
render you unable to walk, and in our colleague Gabby Giffords' case, 
almost unable to speak. But it can also inflict you with an ongoing, 
cascading trauma from which you may never recover.
  James Harris was shot in Hartford in 2018. He was shot while he and 
another friend were just hanging out in the hallway of the friend's 
apartment building, when a man showed up and shot James and his friend. 
The man was charged with a whole bunch of things, including possession 
of an illegal firearm. But they were just in the wrong place at the 
wrong time.
  His friend lost his life. James survived and, to this day, he 
experiences post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic pain, and mental 
health challenges that I don't think anybody in this Chamber can get 
their head wrapped around.
  Tyrek Marquez was shot in the head a decade earlier, in Hartford, 
when Tyrek was 7 years old, following a West Indian Day parade in 
Hartford in the summer of 2008.
  Guess what. The three shooters who were arrested were all found to 
have illegal firearms. One of the guns they found in the perpetuation 
of that crime had been used in 14 other crimes.
  It is a decade later, and Tyrek remains partially paralyzed on the 
left side of his body. But he is part of the anti-gun violence 
movement. He survived, and he wants to make sure that this never 
happens to anybody ever again. ``You've got to overcome obstacles and 
that's what I have been'' able to do, he says.
  There are 100 people a day who die from guns, but there are just as 
many who survive gunshot wounds, and they are now demanding that 
something change.
  Right now, as we debate a COVID relief package, our focus, 
rightfully, is squarely on trying to reverse the disturbing trend of 
this virus expanding all across this country and righting the economic 
ship of this country. But not coincidental to the pandemic and the 
economic meltdown, we saw a dramatic increase in homicides. Some cities 
reported 40, 50 percent increases in homicides in 2020 versus 2019. You 
saw record numbers of gun sales. Those two things are not coincidental. 
And those are just the reportable gun sales. Likely, we saw a dramatic 
spike in illegal gun transfers as well. More weapons equals more gun 
crimes in this country.
  And so knowing that 20, 30 percent of guns get transferred outside of 
the legal system, knowing that, as in the case of Tyrek and James, it 
was illegal guns that ended up being used to shoot them, as it was for 
Shane Oliver in Hartford--that mother I talked about, Janet Rice; Shane 
was killed with an illegal gun--to honor Gun Violence Survivors Week, 
we have to make a plan this year. We have to make a plan to work on an 
issue that can bring us all together.
  I hope that Republicans join us in voting for COVID relief funding. 
The things in President Biden's package are supported by 70 percent of 
the American public. That is impressive. It is really hard to get the 
American public to agree on anything at a 70-percent rate. They have 
actually done polling on things like kittens and baseball and grandmas, 
and it is hard to get 70 percent support for that stuff. So on Joe 
Biden's agenda, boy, it must be pretty popular to get 70 percent of the 
American public supporting it.
  Universal background checks, requiring that everybody have to prove 
you are not a criminal or seriously mentally ill before you buy a gun--
that has 90 to 95 percent support. Think about that. That means that 
the vast majority of gun owners, of NRA members, of Republicans, 
Democrats, Independents, all support universal background checks. It is 
something that this body can come together on.
  And just like in Tyrek and James's case, every single day we are 
presented with evidence of what happens when we let these illegal guns 
flow on to our streets. In Pennsylvania, a man purchased two handguns 
advertised in a classified ad. He used those guns to kill a person and 
wound seven others inside a psychiatric institute. He had failed a 
background check at a gun store just a few months prior.
  In Illinois, a man killed a Chicago police commander with a gun he 
purchased online. He was prohibited from buying a gun because he had a 
restraining order.
  Wisconsin, a man killed his wife and two other women and wounded four 
others with a gun that he purchased outside the background system. Why? 
Because he was prohibited from purchasing a gun because of a domestic 
violence restraining order.
  In Texas, a man killed 7 people and injured 22 others after being 
fired from his job. He had failed a background check but was able to 
find an unlicensed seller.
  I can go on. Over and over and over again, the victims of gun 
violence are very often put at risk and put in harm's way because there 
are so many guns being sold illegally or so many guns being sold 
legally to people who shouldn't have them, like people with serious, 
violent criminal records and people who have been arrested for things 
like domestic violence.
  So, right now, our priority has to be COVID relief, but as we take 
part this week in Gun Violence Survivors Week, we have to recognize 
that the status quo is not acceptable and that there is something 
fundamentally wrong with democracy if a public policy measure can enjoy 
90 percent support amongst the American public, and it can't get passed 
through the representative bodies that are assembled in the Nation's 
  Thirty-nine thousand people die every year. More are injured and 
survive. And we owe them, in 2021, to pass legislation that finally 
starts putting these trajectories downward.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. BARRASSO. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The Senator from Wyoming.


  Mr. BARRASSO. Mr. President, I come to the floor today to discuss the 
urgent need to get our kids back in school. Kids deserve to be back in 
  Last week, the White House Chief of Staff was on television. He was 
interviewed. The interviewer asked him why so many public schools 
remain closed. His answer--amazingly, astonishingly--was ``money.''
  If I may, the record is very clear. Republicans supported more money 
for schools since last summer--a full $105 billion to get our kids back 
to school. In fact, the Senate Republicans' targeted coronavirus bill 
included more money from schools than Speaker Pelosi included in her 
bloated, liberal wish list.
  For months, Senate Democrats obstructed, delayed, and dragged their 
feet. For months, Democrats played politics with coronavirus relief. In 
all that time, families across America suffered.
  It wasn't until the end of December that Democrats finally agreed to 
pass legislation to reopen the schools, and it included $82 billion--
less than Republicans had offered the last summer.
  Well, the ink is now barely dry on the overall relief bill at the end 
of last year. It was a $900 billion relief bill. So here we are, just 1 
month later, and the new administration says that there is no money to 
reopen schools.
  The White House Chief of Staff goes on television with a supposedly 
new idea. The idea is that ``we, as a country, should make the 
investments to make it safe'' to get back to school--astonishing, 
because we did that.

[[Page S235]]

  If the Biden administration really wants their schools to reopen, 
they ought to be talking to the teachers unions. They should talk to 
the leaders of the teachers unions based in Fairfax County, VA, just a 
few miles from here. You know, it is one of the largest school 
districts in America. Fairfax County teachers demanded a vaccine before 
they would go back to the classroom. Thanks to Operation Warp Speed, 
they got the vaccine. Yet they still refused to go back to the 
classroom, which, of course, means that the students aren't in the 
classroom either.
  In Chicago, the teachers union is threatening to go on strike rather 
than to go back into the classroom, which, of course, means the 
students don't get to back into the classroom either.
  In Washington, DC, the teachers union would rather go to court than 
to the classroom, which means that students don't get to go back to the 
classroom either.
  Similar stories are taking place all across America. The union bosses 
might think this is just a big game. The truth is, this is doing 
terrible things to our children.
  Our teachers do incredible work. Many are working harder than ever in 
the virtual setting. Many want to go back to the classroom. Yet, 
because of the union bosses who pull the strings, our kids are being 
denied access to in-person learning by our amazing teachers.
  On Wednesday, the New York Times said it was ``breaking news'' that 
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention want the kids back in 
school. That is not breaking news. That is old news. The CDC said it 
last July.
  Experts have been echoing this call for months. One study estimated 
that because of the lockdown last spring, a typical student entered 
this school year 35 percent behind schedule in reading and nearly 50 
percent behind in math.
  The children hurt the most are, of course, the most vulnerable--kids 
from lower income families, like the millions of kids who receive 
nutrition assistance, medical care, or counseling in public schools; 
also, the children of single parents, many of whom--the parents, that 
is--can't work from home.
  According to the National Education Association, a quarter of the 
families with kids ages 5 to 17 either don't have a computer or don't 
have wireless internet, so the lockdowns have been especially tough on 
all of those kids in those settings.
  For many children, the lockdown has been far tougher on their health 
than coronavirus itself would be. That is because serious coronavirus 
symptoms among healthy children are extremely rare. And Congress has 
provided funding to prevent kids from spreading the coronavirus. It has 
done it by improving ventilation, by social distancing, and by 
disinfecting our classrooms.
  So while Democrats were taking their orders from teachers unions, 
Senate Republicans listened to the science. It is time for Senate 
Democrats to decide: Are they going to put our kids first or are they 
going to continue to put the teachers unions ahead of our kids?
  Senate Republicans have done our part to reopen our schools with 
incredible amounts of funding and support. This is no time for excuses, 
no time for backtracking. The science supports it. We have provided the 
  Now I would point out that students in Wyoming have been back in 
school since September. That is where students belong. Kids deserve to 
be in school. So let's get our kids back in the classroom. It is what 
is best for kids; certainly, it is what is best for working families; 
and it is what is best for our future as a nation.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. CORNYN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Peters). Without objection, it is so 

                          Biden Administration

  Mr. CORNYN. Mr. President, relations between the United States and 
Russia are more precarious today than at any other time since the Cold 
War. From Russian-backed mercenaries fighting in the Middle East to the 
Kremlin's attempt to poison Putin's critics like Alexei Navalny using a 
nerve agent, the actions of Russia are growing more and more 
aggressive. That is especially true when it comes to actions against 
the United States and our allies.
  We know Russia made a clear attempt to interfere with the 2016 
election and delegitimize our democratic processes, like our elections. 
Through everything from highly coordinated disinformation campaigns to 
targeted attacks on voting systems, it sought to undermine and 
potentially change the result of a democratic election.
  Of course, it is not just our voting systems that have come under 
attack. Moscow has launched massive cyber attacks against private 
companies and government agencies alike, the latest being the 
SolarWinds hack. Last year, Russia attempted to steal coronavirus 
vaccine research from the United States and our closest allies.
  The Biden administration has responded to these mounting threats in 
an unlikely way--by giving Russia exactly what it wants. Sure, I know 
there were some press reports about a conversation between President 
Biden and President Putin, but then again, that is all it was--words, 
not action.
  This Friday is the expiration date for the New START treaty--the only 
remaining bilateral strategic nuclear agreement between the United 
States and Russia. Since New START entered force a decade ago, there 
has been no lack of criticism about its shortcomings. For example, here 
on the Senate floor last week, I outlined some of the main issues with 
New START, including the fact that it only placed limits on strategic 
nuclear weapons, leaving room open for an endless arsenal of tactical 
nuclear weapons, which were particularly of interest to Russia in a 
potential land war in Europe. The new Senator from Tennessee and former 
U.S. Ambassador to Japan, Bill Hagerty, has echoed that concern as 
  But it is not just Republicans who acknowledge the need for a new 
approach. Victoria Nuland is an experienced and accomplished diplomat 
with more than three decades of experience, and she has been nominated 
by President Biden for a high-ranking position in the State Department. 
In an opinion piece she wrote last year, she wrote that the United 
States ``should not grant Moscow what it wants most: a free rollover of 
New START without any negotiations to address Russia's recent 
investments in short- and medium-range nuclear weapons systems and new 
conventional weapons.'' In other words, Russia is building new weapons 
that will not be included in the New START negotiations, but they 
should be.
  The President didn't take the advice of Ambassador Nuland, obviously. 
He didn't advocate for new limits on tactical weapons or these new 
weapons systems or impose any other conditions to combat Russian 
aggression. In a call with President Putin last week, President Biden 
agreed to a clean 5-year extension--no conditions, no negotiations; in 
short, a capitulation. He gave him a green light to keep doing what 
they have been doing.
  Well, it didn't take long for Russian leaders to celebrate this win. 
The Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia declared that the United States 
had agreed to extend the treaty on Russia's terms, and both houses of 
Russia's Parliament unanimously voted in favor of the ratification of 
the extension within hours of the announcement. In other words, the 
Biden administration is on exactly the same page as the Duma. That 
ought to give them some pause. It is fair to say there has been no 
celebration here in the United States, but the truth is, there has 
hardly been any attention paid to this issue at all, including here in 
  The administration has tried to maintain its focus on the President's 
long list of executive actions. In his first 2 weeks in office, 
President Biden has used the power of the pen to cancel the Keystone XL 
Pipeline, rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement, stop drilling on Federal 
lands and in Federal waters, and so much more. Why did the President 
focus on this agenda? Well, because he has called climate change--not 
nuclear weapons--the existential threat of our time.

[[Page S236]]

  Don't get me wrong--I think our country can and should do more to 
reduce emissions and preserve our land and waters for future 
generations, but those measures shouldn't come at the cost of thousands 
of jobs, reduced energy independence, and higher prices for consumers, 
including seniors on fixed incomes.
  I have always been a proponent of the ``all of the above'' energy 
strategy, which relies on fossil fuels and renewables, as well as 
innovative technologies to provide our country with reliable, 
affordable, and lower emissions energy sources. In fact just about a 
month ago, I introduced a bill to help spur that innovation, which was 
signed into law. But based on the emphasis of the Biden administration 
on climate change and the near silence we are hearing on nuclear 
treaties, you would think that climate change is a bigger threat to the 
world than a nuclear war. Only in a fevered imaginary world could that 
be true.

  Our Democratic colleagues in the Senate and many members of the media 
played along as well, praising the President's efforts to combat one 
self-proclaimed crisis while ignoring its failure to address a clear 
and present danger and a threat to the planet.
  The fact is, the administration missed a huge opportunity by 
extending the New START treaty without any other conditions, and it has 
to do with much more than just the threats posed by Russia. While the 
United States and Russia are the two biggest nuclear powers in the 
world, we are not the only ones. There are five nonproliferation treaty 
states, two of which are Russia and the United States. But there is 
also the UK and France, both of which provide regular information about 
the size and makeup of their nuclear arsenals.
  The fifth and final power is China, a police state and one of the 
world's greatest secret keepers, especially when it comes to its 
nuclear arsenal. China, we think, has quietly been growing its nuclear 
arsenal for years, and the thick cloak of secrecy surrounding the 
Chinese Communist Party has made it nearly impossible to verify 
information about the breadth and depth of its nuclear capabilities. 
But from the information we have, we know China continues to pursue a 
nuclear triad, and experts estimate China to have about 300 nuclear 
weapons. Assuming that figure is correct, it makes China the third most 
powerful nuclear country in the world, behind the United States and 
Russia, and we have every reason to believe that the size of its 
arsenal will continue to grow.
  In May of 2019, then-Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, 
Robert Ashley, said China is likely to at least double the size of its 
nuclear stockpile over the next decade. He referred to this effort as 
``the most rapid expansion and diversification of its nuclear arsenal 
in China's history.''
  Here we are, a year and a half after that estimate, and there is no 
reason to believe that China has changed its course. In fact, it 
appears the announcement of a New START extension received a warm 
welcome in Beijing, just as it did in Moscow. The story that ran this 
weekend in the South China Morning Post said this extension ``means the 
gap between China and the two nuclear giants. . . . will not widen and 
Beijing could spend the next five years catching up.'' There you have 
it. That is the real takeaway of a clean extension of New START.
  The Biden administration has agreed to leave in place a framework in 
which the Russians continue to cheat, the Chinese play catch up, and 
the United States is left to play by the rules of a bygone era.
  Rather than enter into a 5-year extension of New START, the 
administration should have used its leverage to convene multilateral 
nuclear talks. America should invite the other nonproliferation 
states--Russia, China, France, and the UK--to the negotiating table and 
encourage multilateral talks limiting the growth of nuclear arsenals 
  I understand President Biden's desire to focus on the issues he 
campaigned on--whether it is climate change, immigration reform, or any 
other policy area--but in doing so, he should not ignore the larger 
threats to global security or relinquish the leverage we have to secure 
a deal that improves global security at large.
  Nuclear weapons, not climate change, are the greatest existential 
threat we face, and the United States cannot sit idly by while Moscow 
and Beijing pass us by.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. PORTMAN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. PORTMAN. Mr. President, I am here on the floor today to talk 
about the way forward for this new Congress and the new Biden 
  Specifically, this afternoon, we are talking about the budget 
resolution that the Democratic side has proposed. There was a vote 
today to begin to proceed on that. My understanding is that by the end 
of this week, we will have a number of amendments about the budget, and 
this all goes toward a process called reconciliation. If the two 
budgets are agreed upon, that would enable us--with 50 votes rather 
than the normal 60 votes--to take on a really important issue, which is 
the issue of how we should address the COVID-19 pandemic.
  But, to me, this is an even bigger question. It is a question about 
how we are going to proceed, as a Congress, working with this new 
administration. If you recall, the Senate is now a 50-50 split. That is 
as closely divided as you can possibly be. There are 50 Senators on 
this side and 50 Senators on that side. The House is more closely 
divided than it has been in years. And, significantly, the American 
people are more divided than they have been in years.
  I think the American people, as a general matter--not everybody, but 
I think the American people are looking for us to deal with these 
divisions here in the country by working together to try to get 
something done, by working together to help heal the wounds that are 
out there.
  As for me, one Senator, I am very interested in helping President 
Biden make good on the pledge that he made on the steps of the Capitol. 
On the west steps, just that way in the U.S. Capitol, on Inauguration 
Day, January 20, the President said that he wanted to bring our country 
together. He wanted to help heal those wounds. He wanted us to work 
across the aisle. He wanted to go back to an era here where we actually 
sat down, debated things, worked them out together, and, therefore, 
helped bring our country together.
  I hope, with regard to the COVID-19 discussions, that Republicans and 
Democrats will agree to keep working on charting the Federal response 
to the ongoing healthcare and economic crisis in a bipartisan way. It 
is the one area where we have done it.
  Yet when you think of all the division in all of the times when we 
haven't been able to find agreement on things around here, one place we 
have been able to find agreement has been with regard to COVID-19. 
Specifically, we have passed five different bills--five bills--with big 
majorities, bipartisan majorities. One was actually by unanimous 
  The most recent one was just 5 weeks ago or less, at the end of the 
year, when Congress passed a $900 billion COVID-relief package in an 
entirely bipartisan way. And $900 billion, by the way, makes that the 
second most expensive legislative package that Congress has ever 
passed--$900 billion. The first one was the CARES Act, which also 
related to the coronavirus pandemic that we are in. Over $4 trillion--
that is trillion with a ``t''--has been spent on this, larger than our 
typical annual budget for everything in government. And do you know 
what? It is a crisis, and we needed to step up to the plate.
  But now, while the ink is still drying on the bill that we passed at 
the end of the year, the Biden administration has proposed another $1.9 
trillion to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
  My own view is that, again, this is an area where we have been able 
to come together. Let's do it again.
  Is there more need out there? Well, when Congress passed the $900 
billion legislation, we all said: This is a bridge to get us to between 
now and when the vaccines are readily available, which

[[Page S237]]

we all hope happens sooner rather than later.
  But there may be some things we need to do in the interim--I think 
there are--and maybe some things after the March, April time period 
that we hadn't thought about for the vaccine availability. The vaccines 
are moving out more slowly than expected.
  So I, for one, am willing to sit down wit Republicans and Democrats 
alike, as we have done, again, five different times, to work on how we 
can come together to provide that bridge to a better time when the 
economy will improve because the COVID-19 issue will have been 

  My concern is that, again, today, we started down a track, by 
starting on the budget, to end up with budget reconciliation, which 
would mean a 50-vote rather than a 60-vote margin because the other 
side of the aisle--Democrats--think it would be better not to try to 
work out something on a bipartisan basis but to simply use their 
majority to get something through here that they would like to do that 
is consistent with where President Biden's $1.9 trillion package is.
  We will see. Maybe they could be successful at that, maybe not, 
because it would require every Member on that side of the aisle to 
agree with the $1.9 trillion package, which is a comprehensive, 
complicated package, which includes a number of things addressed to 
COVID-19 but another number of things that are unrelated to COVID-19, 
some of which are popular on the other side of the aisle in particular, 
like changes in tax law that have nothing to do with COVID-19, changes 
to the Federal minimum wage that have nothing to do with COVID-19. But 
we will see.
  But even if they could pass it by the barest majority, given that it 
is a 50-50 Senate, it is not the right way to go for our country. I 
don't think anybody truly believes it is the best thing for our 
  Again, if we can't come together as Republicans and Democrats, as we 
have proven that we can time and again over the last year, what can we 
come together on? And wouldn't that poison the well? Wouldn't it make 
it harder for us, then, to find that common ground on things like 
infrastructure investments, on things like retirement security? I think 
it is going to be harder if we start off on the wrong foot, if we start 
off in a purely partisan way.
  I was part of the group of five Democrats and five Republicans who 
sat down--we call ourselves the 908 Coalition because we put together a 
bipartisan framework, actual legislation, on COVID-19. This was over 
the last few months before Christmas. Then, at the end of the year, 
Congress passed the $900 billion bill. Our framework provided a basis 
for that. It wasn't exactly the same, but it provided a basis for that.
  Frankly, because Republicans and Democrats alike--five and five--were 
able to agree, it helped get our leadership more focused on how to find 
a bipartisan result, as we had done previously, because things weren't 
going very well. They weren't talking to each other. They weren't 
making the progress that we had hoped. That group has shown that we 
can, indeed, come together and make tough choices. Not one thing in 
that legislative effort was not bipartisan.
  By the way, there were five of us on the Republican side, five on the 
Democratic side. None of us agreed with all of it. It was a matter of 
compromise--a word that maybe isn't too popular anymore, but that is 
how you get things done around here. You have to figure out: What is 
that common ground? What is the way in which you can make progress 
without having everything your way?
  We have shown we can do it. The 908 Coalition is ready to go again.
  I will say that what we were able to do with that coalition was to 
help move the process forward in a bipartisan way. And, in the end, we 
got $69 billion in funding for vaccine development and distribution, 
$82 billion to support our students in school, $325 billion to restart 
the highly successful small business program called the Paycheck 
Protection Program.
  At unprecedented deficit times, where we want to be sure every dollar 
is wisely spent, that $900 billion was about one-seventh of the size of 
the Democratic proposal that was originally out there and was supported 
by a lot of Democrats here in the Senate--not one Republican, by the 
way. That was a $3.5 trillion bill called the Heroes Act. We ended up 
doing something that was smaller but more targeted and more effective 
in dealing with the immediate problems with no extraneous provisions 
that had nothing to do with COVID-19, which was the case of the Heroes 
  So we have done it time and time again--five different times. Let's 
do it again.
  If we are going to continue responding to this crisis in a smart way 
that meets the needs of our constituents, it is going to require us 
having that kind of a good-faith, bipartisan negotiation.
  Again, in his inaugural address, President Biden said: ``This is our 
historic moment of crisis and challenge, and unity is the path 
  I don't think he meant just unity with one party or another. Clearly, 
the context of that speech and his other comments were about outreach 
to Republicans and Democrats alike to get back to an era where we 
worked together.
  Unfortunately, since that address, the President's team and his party 
appear to have chosen a different path, introducing this new COVID-19 
package I talked about without any input, any consultation with any 
Republican or, for that matter, I think it is fair to say, any Democrat 
in this Chamber. I may be wrong. But I know the Democrats who are on 
the 908 Coalition were not consulted, period.
  That is not the way forward. Why would we do that? Why wouldn't we, 
once again, do what we have proven we can do, particularly following 
what I thought was an excellent speech, talking about how we can work 
  The $1.9 trillion package that was sent up does have extraneous 
matters that have nothing to do with COVID-19, as the Heroes Act did. I 
understand that these are popular proposals, particularly on the 
Democratic side. We can debate those, and we can have a vote on those, 
but let's do it outside of the COVID-19 context.
  We should have a debate about minimum wage. We should have a debate 
on changing the child tax credit, the earned-income tax credit, which 
would not affect COVID-19 at all because no one believes that a year 
from now that we are going to be in this position, which is when people 
could take advantage of those tax credits. But they are in the 
legislation, as an example.
  There are provisions in there for clean energy. That is a good debate 
for us to have but not in the context of this. There are provisions in 
there for cyber security--$10 billion for improving our cyber security 
in the Federal Government. The Presiding Officer and I actually like 
that idea, to have cyber security funds and to set up a new way to push 
back against these terrible cyber attacks that we have had, 
particularly recently--a massive one. But that is not appropriate for 
the COVID-19 bill. As much as I would like to have that debate, let's 
do it separately. By the way, that can be bipartisan as well.
  The $1.9 trillion proposal also has a new round of stimulus checks 
that are written so that a family with three kids making $290,000 a 
year can end up getting a check from the Federal Government, even if 
they have had no negative impact from COVID-19. That seems, to us, to 
be wrongheaded. And, I think, frankly, a lot of Democrats agree to 
that, too, and believe it ought to be more targeted toward those who 
need it the most.
  The economic analysis in this is clear, which is that these higher 
income individuals who have received earlier stimulus checks have ended 
up not spending them, meaning they don't stimulate the economy, which 
is the whole idea of the stimulus checks.
  There is some recent data out by an economist named Chetty, who is 
well respected, that says, of the $1,400 that the proposal that the 
President has laid out going to these families--of that $1,400, if 
someone makes over $78,000 a year, likely they only spend about $105 of 
that money. The rest they will save, put in the stock market, do 
something else with it but not spend.
  So let's target it. We are not against stimulus checks, but we are 
against sending stimulus checks to people who are wealthy, who don't 
need it. That seems like not an effective use of taxpayer dollars at a 
time of these unprecedented deficits and debts, with our

[[Page S238]]

debt being the highest it has been, as a percent of our economy, since 
World War II.
  We also have to realize that the $900 billion that was in the package 
that just passed 5 weeks ago or less has not been fully spent. In fact, 
most analyses show that less than half of that $900 billion has gone 
out the door. So we can't know what the impact has been of what we just 
spent--again, the second largest expenditure of funds ever in the 
history of this Congress because half of it has not even got out the 
door, or more. Let's do an analysis there.
  Apparently, without taking the time to see if there are 60 Senators 
willing to move forward with this new idea of a new bipartisan package, 
this reconciliation approach I talked about earlier is the one that 
Democrats seem to want to take. It is a rare process. You have to have 
a budget passed by both sides. It only happens every few years. The 
reconciliation is in the underlying budget we are voting on over the 
next couple of days here. It is something that can be used--
reconciliation--only for budget-related issues, only for mandatory 
spending and for revenue, for taxes, and for reducing the debt. So it 
has to be budget related.
  Actually, some of the things in the $1.9 trillion dollar package 
can't even be done by reconciliation, which would mean we would have to 
be changing the rules of this body in order to include them in 
reconciliation. That is another bad idea. First bad idea, not to work 
on a bipartisan basis. At least try. At least try. The second one is, 
using reconciliation, which is a mere 50-vote margin for something that 
is not directly related to the budget that has a direct impact. It 
can't be merel incidental to the budget, as an example.

  There are a number of provisions in there that fit that category. And 
there is at least discussion, I am told--and we have heard it openly 
from my colleagues on the other side of saying: Well, we are just going 
to overrule the Chair--essentially nuke--going the nuclear option, as 
they say. The nuclear option means that you overrule the Chair--and by 
a mere 50 votes, change the rules of the Senate.
  Please don't do that. That would be, again, setting us down a path of 
partisanship we don't need to do. It would be poisoning the well. It 
would be saying--just as getting rid of the filibuster would--we are 
going to change the rules now that we are in charge.
  The rules are there for a reason. And that is to ensure that, to the 
extent possible, the Senate is a body where you find at least some 
modicum of bipartisanship to move forward because you have to get those 
60 votes, not just 50 votes or 51.
  By trying to jam through this $1.9 trillion legislation, it sets 
exactly the wrong tone for the country and also for the administration. 
I think President Biden has a real opportunity to help heal our 
country--I really do. By the way, I think he sincerely wants to. That 
is why I don't understand this process.
  Our 908 Coalition--this bipartisan group, which is now 20 Members, 10 
Republicans and 10 Democrats--and we took it up to 10 Republicans 
because we wanted to show that you can get to 60 votes. If you had 50 
Democrats, you would have 10 Republicans willing to work with them. And 
I am sure there are many, many more than those 10. I know there are. 
This group is now being tested.
  This group was bipartisan under President Trump. I hope it will be 
bipartisan under President Biden. I hope that that bipartisanship shows 
up quickly before we go down this path.
  We had a meeting last week of our 908 Coalition, and our Democratic 
colleagues asked us: What can we support? If it is not $1.9 trillion, 
what is it? Fair question. Again, many of us think we ought to find out 
what happened to the $900 billion first, hard-earned tax money that 
hasn't been spent yet. But we said: OK. We will put together a proposal 
that we could support--not that we support all elements of it but we 
could support in order to respond to the President's $1.9 trillion 
package in addressing all of the major issues that he addressed.
  Over the weekend, we outlined a $600 billion package that does just 
that. It addresses the most urgent needs of our country. It does not 
include any of the unrelated provisions in the Democrats' package that 
have nothing to do with COVID-19. What it does contain is the same $160 
billion that is in the $1.9 trillion package as it relates to 
  What does that mean? It means that if we are going to get out of this 
crisis we find ourselves in, we have to address the COVID-19 issue, 
right? We are not just going to have an economy improve immediately to 
the extent we would like to see it without dealing with the healthcare 
crisis. That is what is driving the fact that restaurants are closed 
down, the fact that people are losing jobs through no fault of their 
own, the fact that we have these economic issues related to COVID. So 
the sensible thing to do is to be sure we are dealing with the vaccine, 
development and distribution, dealing with testing, dealing with 
tracing, making sure we have proper PPE. All of that is in the $160 
billion that is in the Biden proposal. It is also in the proposal that 
we Republicans on the Coalition put forward--$160 billion, the same.
  For those issues, we are consistent with President Biden's plan on 
additional healthcare support. Our proposal also prioritizes getting 
kids back to the classroom, which we think is really important. 
Specifically, we have $20 billion toward getting children safely back 
into classrooms, which is on top of the $82 billion we just spent on 
schools at the end of year. As a parent, I couldn't feel more strongly 
about this; we need to get our children back to school, and we need to 
make sure we it is safe--and we can do both.
  We also provide an additional $12 billion for nutrition programs to 
combat food insecurity and ensure that families, kids have food on the 
table. This is consistent, again, with the Biden administration plan. 
These are ones that we agree on.
  Our proposal also includes $20 billion for the childcare and 
development block grants so our childcare facilities across the country 
can stay open, so the parents can go back to work. Childcare is 
incredibly expensive. Again, this is where we agree.
  We have a new round of $50 billion in financial support for small 
businesses, but we use it in a program we know works rather than 
setting up a new program, which would take a long time to put in place.
  We help the hardest hit families and individuals through expanding 
unemployment insurance for those who lose their job through no fault of 
their own. We expand it from where it currently ends now, in mid-March, 
to the end of June, so June 30.

  We extend it at $300 per week, which is the Federal supplement now in 
place. There, the Biden administration wants $400 rather than $300 and 
wants to extend it into September, to September 30. There is no 
economic data that says that that will be necessary. If it is, we can 
take it up again. So there we have a proposal that is similar but more 
targeted to meet the real needs of our economy.
  Our proposal also provides direct stimulus checks to Americans who 
really need that extra amount of money to pay their rent or put food on 
the table or pay their mortgage. By the way, we do it by lowering these 
limits. Instead of going to families that make 300,000 bucks a year or 
more--if they have got three or four kids, we say let's cap it at 
$50,000 for individuals, $100,000 for families, an additional $500 per 
  Again, all the economists say that is what makes sense because those 
are the folks who are really going to spend it and need it. Let's 
target this to those who really need the help.
  We accomplish all these things at one-third of the cost of the Biden 
proposal. Much of the difference between our proposal and the Biden 
administration's is we don't include the extraneous matters, but also 
it is how we address these two crises: the healthcare crisis to defeat 
the underlying disease and the work we are trying to do to ensure the 
economy can recover. Both proposals rightly provide the resources 
needed to address the healthcare crisis, as I said.
  But with regard to the economic crisis, we take a little different 
approach. Our focus is on getting targeted aid to those who need it the 
most. In contrast, a large portion of the administration's $1.9 
trillion package is about spending taxpayer dollars to stimulate the 
economy that, based on all the data, is already beginning to recover. 
And that is something that, frankly, is not an effective use of 
taxpayer dollars.

[[Page S239]]

  Just yesterday, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, or CBO, 
reported that the economy is growing quite well right now. They project 
a 3.7-percent real economic growth in this year we are in, in 2021. 
That is significant economic growth. That takes into account inflation, 
real economic growth at 3.7 percent. That just came out yesterday.
  By the way, the Wall Street Journal does a survey of a bunch of 
economists--60 economists--and their consensus for the economic growth 
in this year is not 3.7 percent, it is 4.3 percent. Even better. So the 
economy is projected to grow quite well this year.
  Importantly, the CBO also said that the economy is expected to 
recover to prepandemic levels by the middle of the year. They say that 
by June 30, the economy will be back to where it was before the 
pandemic, which was a very strong economy. In fact, a year ago 
February, this month, we had 19 straight months of wage growth of over 
3 percent. We had the lowest poverty rate in the history of our 
country. There was a lot of good things going on in our economy. And 
they say we are going to get back to that--this is CBO, not me--by the 
middle of this year.
  Meanwhile, after record-high jobless claims we saw last spring when 
unemployment hit 14.7 percent, the national unemployment rate has 
fallen to 6.7 percent, which means Americans are able to find work, for 
the most part. Is it where I would like it to be? No. But the CBO says 
the unemployment numbers are going to go down, as does everybody else 
who has projected this over the next year. They say it is going to drop 
this year to 5.3 percent. Five percent used to be considered full 
employment. We would like to see it even better than that. But the 
point is, the economy is improving. And as we get these virus pandemic 
issues under control, the economy will improve even more. Having the 
vaccines readily available is going to make a big difference. And, of 
course, again, that is why we put so much money into that in our 

  CBO is basing these projections, by the way, without factoring any of 
the new $1.9 trillion. They don't assume that there will be any more 
stimulus than what we just passed several weeks ago. In other words, 
while the Biden Administration says we need $1.9 trillion in new 
spending or our economy will tank, CBO says very clearly that is not 
  Instead, we need to help those who are still struggling and cannot 
find a job because their industry shuttered or their business isn't 
allowed to reopen, and that is what our targeted proposal will do.
  Other respected sources agree with CBO's optimism. I mentioned these 
68 economists indicating 4.3 percent economic growth. The Committee for 
a Responsible Federal Budget said yesterday that the CBO data 
underscores the need for a targeted package, saying: ``It shouldn't 
take $1.9 trillion to fill a $400 billion or $800 billion hole'' in our 
  We have more data to suggest that the economy is on a path to 
recovery. For example, we know that household incomes rose slightly--
but they rose--in December. This was the first increase in 3 months. 
The personal savings rate in December rose significantly--13.7 
percent--indicating there is a lot of pent-up demand right there for 
people to get out and start spending money again.
  To me, all this points to a pretty clear conclusion that in the 
immediate aftermath of the $900 billion bipartisan package just passed 
at year end, there is simply not a strong argument to spend an 
additional $1.9 trillion on stimulus. Instead, we need to use this next 
COVID-19 package to focus on the ongoing healthcare challenges of the 
pandemic--that is the key thing--and on getting targeted economic 
relief to the hardest hit Americans, which is what our $600 billion 
proposal does.
  I appreciate that, in the last few days, President Biden has 
expressed more willingness to work with bipartisan Members of Congress 
on this critical challenge. After we wrote to President Biden on Sunday 
requesting a meeting to discuss our targeted COVID-19 relief proposal, 
he quickly accepted, and, yesterday, we had a lengthy and, I thought, 
very productive discussion at the White House. While we didn't come to 
an agreement on a proposal--and as you can see today on the floor, 
Democrats are moving forward with this budget process, regardless--it 
was a productive discussion and gives me hope that we can follow the 
bipartisan approach we have taken from the previous five COVID bills. 
The meeting reaffirmed that there is a lot of common ground for us to 
build another bill upon and that we share the belief that we need to 
ensure the hardest hit individuals and families and small businesses 
get more support they need during this crisis.
  My hope is that we can use these two proposals as a starting point 
for negotiations on a COVID-19 response package that Congress can pass, 
as we have before, consistently, with bipartisan support, not through 
partisan parliamentary maneuvers.
  This pandemic gives us an opportunity to come together as Republicans 
and Democrats and show the American people we can put aside the 
partisanship and the divisions that have become the norm around here 
and get things done.
  If we can't do it on COVID-19, as we have five times already, where 
can we do it?
  I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues on both sides 
of the aisle and with President Biden to follow his desire to make good 
on his pledge in the inaugural address to work together to respond to 
this crisis.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Alaska.
  Mr. SULLIVAN. Mr. President, I want to compliment my good friend and 
colleague Senator Portman, the great Senator from the State of Ohio, 
who has done so much in this Chamber on so many issues--COVID-19 relief 
is just one--to help our great Nation.
  Some of you may have heard the news that Senator Portman--I am still 
very distraught about it--has announced that he is not going to be 
running for reelection in 2 years, and I think that is going to be a 
huge loss, not just to the State of Ohio but to our great Nation.
  I want to commend Senator Portman for all his phenomenal work. He is 
proving, again, his leadership and his statesmanship here as we are 
trying to attack and take on big challenges for our Nation.


  Mr. President, I also want to talk about another big challenge for 
our Nation, something that I have come down on the floor since I was 
elected 6 years ago to the Senate to talk about, and that is the 
challenge that we have with regard to the rise of China. As a matter of 
fact, this is an area I talk frequently about because there is a lot 
more bipartisan progress on this incredibly important issue--the most 
important geostrategic challenge facing our Nation right now, probably 
the challenge that will be facing us for the next 50 to 100 years--that 
is with us today.
  But there has been progress. I want to talk about this progress, and 
I want to talk about something, another development that I think is 
very important.
  There has been an awakening. When I started to come down and talk 
about the rise of China, not a lot of people were talking about it, but 
there has been huge progress in that now everybody is talking about 
it--the Biden administration, and the Trump administration had been. I 
think President Trump and his team, with their national security 
strategy, their national defense strategy, deserve a lot of credit from 
reorienting our focus, which was the appropriate focus post-9/11 on 
violent extremist organizations, like al-Qaida and ISIS, to the new 
challenge of great power competition with China as the pacing threat 
that we have with regard to our Nation.
  Again, this is something that has been very bipartisan. When you look 
at Members of this body, particularly those who focus on foreign policy 
and national security, they all agree that this reorientation on this 
challenge is something that we need to be doing as a country in a 
bipartisan way--dealing with the rise of China.
  I think, when we talk about this challenge, we are at a place in 
history that, in many ways, is analogous to the period right after 
World War II. I want to talk briefly about that in my remarks
  In 1946, we had what at the time was a recognition that, post World 
War II, we had a new challenge--similar to the

[[Page S240]]

challenge we are seeing right now, the recognition that we have this 
challenge with China. In 1946, we started to recognize that we have a 
challenge with our old World War II ally, the Soviet Union. There was a 
big focus on this challenge, but not necessarily in organizing foreign 
policy principles that could help us get through it.
  Then, in the 1946-1947 period, an American diplomat named George 
Kennan wrote an article. It was an anonymous article--he signed it the 
``X Article''--in Foreign Affairs, and it was called ``The Sources of 
Soviet Conduct.'' What Kennan did, really, for the country, for elected 
officials, for the Senate, for the executive branch, is that he laid 
out what he saw as the challenge that we are facing with regard to the 
Soviet Union--the internal weaknesses that the Soviets actually had--
with incredible insights in that regard, and, then, what our long-term 
strategy should be.
  Here is what he said in this article. He said that American 
policymakers need to enact a policy of ``firm containment'' with regard 
to the Soviet Union, a country that always was trying to expand. He 
said, if we, as a nation, with our allies, try to contain this 
expansion, it would ``increase enormously the strains under which the 
Soviet [Union and its] policy must operate . . . and in this way 
promote tendencies which must eventually find their outlet in either 
the breakup or the gradual mellowing of Soviet power.''
  Think about that. That was the strategy of containment laid out by 
George Kennan, followed for decades by American administrations, by 
this body, Republicans and Democrats--the strategy of containment. And 
we all know what happened.
  George Kennan's fundamental insights into this policy--that the 
Soviet Union would either mellow or completely break down and collapse 
because we were putting containment pressure on them--ended up 
happening. The Berlin Wall came down just as Kennan predicted. The 
Soviet Union broke up peacefully, and this was a remarkable triumph of 
American democracy and strategy that our Nation should be proud of. 
That is what happened then.
  A lot of us have been saying that we are at a new point with regard 
to China. There is an awakening. What should that strategy be? I want 
to talk about a strategy document that just came out.
  Kennan's document was called the ``Long Telegram.'' Just this past 
weekend, the Atlantic Council--which is a think tank here in DC and has 
been around for decades and is very well respected on the Republican 
side and the Democrat side--put out a strategy that they called the 
``Longer Telegram,'' literally in kind of the analogous situation that 
George Kennan had done this in 1946 and 1947.
  This strategy, also, coincidentally, does not identify the author. So 
it is similar to that ``X Article'' in 1946 and 1947. The author is 
anonymous and put out a strategy with insights on how we, as a nation, 
should deal with the rise of China. The Atlantic Council, as I said, 
has been around for decades. They published this, and they said this is 
probably the most impressive strategy document that they have ever 
  Now, is it perfect? Is this the answer? Is this the containment 
strategy from 1946 and 1947 that was the triumph of American diplomacy 
over the last 50 years with the Soviet Union?
  We shall see. We don't know. But I looked through it, and I do think 
it is quite a remarkable document, and it is a great important 
development that we all need to come together on and this new 
administration--the Biden administration--needs to take a hard look at.
  The focus of this strategy document says, which we all believe now, 
that ``the single most important challenge facing the United States in 
the twenty-first century is the rise of an increasingly authoritarian 
China under President General Secretary Xi Jinping.''
  I think a lot of us know that. A lot of us have been talking about 
that. That is the awakening that I believe has happened here in the 
United States and certainly here in the U.S. Senate.
  But like the Kennan article, this one has some very perceptive 
insights. One is that it focuses on what it sees as one of the biggest 
weaknesses in China right now, and that is the fracturing of the 
Communist Party leadership. I am going to talk about that because it 
emphasizes--``anonymous'' here emphasizes--that should be our focus.
  The piece begins by setting the stage of where we are right now.
  The strategy article published by the Atlantic Council is titled 
``The Longer Telegram: Toward a New American China Strategy'' and can 
be found at
  It talks about the scale of the economy of China and its military and 
the speed of its technical advancement and its radically different 
world view than that of the United States. It notes that China now 
profoundly impacts every major U.S. national interest. This is our 
challenge, one that is gradually emerged over two decades and has 
accelerated greatly under the leadership of Xi Jinping.
  How has Xi Jinping ruled during this rise? He has eliminated his 
political opponents. He has stalled market reforms, used ethno-
nationalism to unite his country, and his treatment of ethnic 
minorities has bordered on genocide. In doing so, he has fostered a 
quasi-Maoist personality cult and a new form of totalitarian, high-tech 
police state.
  Anonymous writes:

       In what is a fundamental departure from his risk-averse 
     post-Mao predecessors, Xi [Jinping] has demonstrated that he 
     intends to project China's authoritarian system, coercive 
     foreign policy, and military presence well beyond his 
     country's own borders to the world at large. China, under Xi, 
     unlike under Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin, and Hu Jintao--
     [three previous Chinese leaders]--is no longer a status quo 
     power. It has become a revisionist power.

  That is very troubling for the United States, and this is the 
situation as laid out by the author of the ``Long Telegram.''
  What has the U.S. response been so far? It has been good, but it 
needs to improve.
  The author gives credit to the Trump administration for sounding the 
alarm in its national security strategy and national defense strategy 
with regard to the ``strategic competition,'' the ``central challenge'' 
to our foreign policy, and great power competition that all have 
resulted from the rise of China.
  Anonymous writes that a simple, Kennan-like strategy of containment 
won't be effective with regard to China because China has studied what 
happened to the USSR, learned from its mistakes, and understood that 
the inherent structural weakness with regard to the Soviet model itself 
was something that caused it to collapse, so China has focused on that.
  Yet, as I mentioned, the author emphasizes another central 
vulnerability of the Chinese system, one which he or she, the author, 
thinks we need to take advantage of.
  Here is what Anonymous writes:

       The political reality is that the [Chinese Communist Party] 
     is significantly divided on Xi's leadership and his vast 
     ambitions. Senior party members have been greatly troubled by 
     Xi's policy directions and angered by his endless demands for 
     absolute loyalty. They fear for their own lives and the 
     future livelihoods of their families.

  Of particular political toxicity in this mix are the reports 
unearthed by the international media of the wealth amassed by Xi's 
family and members of his political inner circle, like so many other 
authoritarians who amass wealth through corruption, despite the vigor 
with which Xi has conducted his own anti-corruption campaign, which has 
destroyed many of his rivals.
  So what do we do with this information? As Anonymous writes here--the 
author of the ``Long Telegram''--we need to focus on Xi Jinping 

       U.S. strategy must remain laser-focused on Xi, his inner 
     circle, and the Chinese political context in which they rule. 
     Changing their decision-making will require understanding, 
     operating within, and changing their political and strategic 
     paradigm. All U.S. policy aimed at altering China's behavior 
     should revolve around this fact, or it is likely to prove 

  This, Anonymous writes, has been the missing piece of the puzzle for 
our China strategy so far.

       While U.S. leaders often differentiate between China's 
     Communist Party government and the Chinese people 
     [correctly], Washington [leaders] must achieve the 
     sophistication necessary to go even further. U.S. leaders 
     also must differentiate between the government and the party 
     elite, as well as between the party elite and Xi [Jinping 

[[Page S241]]

  That is critical.
  According to Anonymous, we must work to drive a wedge between these 
groups and to frustrate Xi's ambitions in order to ``cause China's 
elite leadership to collectively conclude that it is in the country's 
best interests to continue operating within the existing U.S.-led 
liberal international order rather than build a rival [authoritarian] 
order [throughout the world], and that it is in the party's best 
interests . . . not to attempt to expand China's borders or to export 
its political [authoritarian] model beyond China's shores.''
  That is the juxtaposition of the significant challenge we have right 
now with the current strategy in what Anonymous writes in this document 
that we should be building on.
  In building on these insights, the author emphasizes that U.S. 
strategy should comprise seven integrated components. Many of us have 
come down to the floor to talk about some of these, but let me touch on 
a few: rebuilding the economic, military, technological, and human 
capital underpinnings of long-term U.S. national power, and I think we 
can all agree on that; agreeing on a set of limited, enforceable policy 
``red lines'' that China should be deterred from crossing under any 
circumstances, such as forcibly invading Taiwan; agreeing on a larger 
number of ``major national security interests'' which are neither vital 
nor existential in nature but which require a range of retaliatory 
actions to inform Chinese strategic behavior; defining those areas 
where continued strategic cooperation with China remains in U.S. 
interests; and prosecuting a full-fledged global ideological battle in 
defense of our political and economic models in contrast with China's 
authoritarian state capitalist models around the world. Finally, all of 
this needs to be done in conjunction with and closely coordinating with 
all of our allies in Europe, in North America, and, of course, in the 
  This last point is critical. Our allies are critical. We need to 
remember we are an ally-rich nation. China is an ally-poor nation. That 
is one of our huge comparative advantages in the geostrategic challenge 
that we have with China over the next decades
  At the end of the day, as Anonymous writes, ideas matter. Ultimately, 
this is going to be the contest of ideas--China's authoritarian model, 
which it wants to promote and export, versus the U.S. Western model of 
open economies, just societies, and competitive, free political 
  Over the long term, the author writes, the Chinese people may well 
come to question and challenge the party's century-long proposition 
that China's great, ancient civilization--thousands of years old--is 
forever destined to an authoritarian future over which the people have 
no choice. That decision, however, must come from the Chinese people 
themselves. We can only provide a model, and we can only show the way. 
We need to do so with confidence and with our allies.
  As Anonymous concludes, there is a subtle, yet corrosive, force that 
has been at work in the United States for some time, raising doubt 
about our Nation's future, and some who are encouraging a sense that, 
as a country, America's best days may now be in the past. Well, I, for 
one, certainly and fully disagree with this, as does the author of the 
``Long Telegram.'' We are a young country. We are a resilient country. 
Our innovation is beyond compare. We are a free country, and as a 
result of the long twilight struggle with the Soviet Union, we also 
know what works: maintaining peace through strength, promoting free 
markets and free people at home, and having the confidence in George 
Kennan's insights from 1946 and 1947 that the Chinese Communist Party, 
like the Soviet Communist Party, likely ``bears within it the seeds of 
its own decay.''
  While democracies are resilient, adaptive, and self-renewing, there 
are many vulnerabilities embedded in China's perceived strengths. One-
man rule creates acute political risks, as Anonymous has described, 
that we need to take advantage of. Historical grievance can breed 
violent nationalism. State-directed economic growth can produce massive 
overcapacity and mountains of debt.
  The gradual and, in some ways, abrupt snuffing out of freedom in 
places like Hong Kong is creating spontaneous protests of tens of 
thousands of young people that we have been seeing now for months. 
China's budding military power and historical view of itself as a 
nation and culture superior to many others is alarming its neighboring 
states, inspiring them to step up their security cooperation with the 
United States. Nearly half of wealthy Chinese want to emigrate, and 
these are the winners from China's four decades of heavy economic 
  As we have in the past, Americans can prevail in this long-term 
geopolitical and ideological contest, but doing so will require a new 
level of strategic initiative, organization, and confidence in who we 
are and what we stand for. This also means we must redouble our efforts 
in making the strategic case not just to Americans but to others around 
the world, particularly our allies.
  Let me conclude by saying that the ``Long Telegram,'' while not 
perfect, sets out what I believe is certainly one of the best 
strategies I have read to date about how the United States needs to 
address the significant challenge that we will be facing for decades.
  I hope my colleagues, Democrats and Republicans, all have the 
opportunity to read this and analyze it, for, like Kennan's strategy of 
containment, our China policy, to be successful, also needs to be very 
bipartisan and ready to be operationalized for decades.
  I yield the floor.
  (Mr. HICKENLOOPER assumed the Chair.)
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Ms. Hassan). The majority leader.