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tv   LIVE U.S. Senate  CSPAN  March 3, 2021 12:00pm-5:53pm EST

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for a vote with the capital police board. >> this year and continues live online at c-span .org and we will leave it here to keep our long-time commitment to bring you live gavel to gavel coverage of congress. the u.s. senate is gaveling and to start work on the nearly 2 trillion-dollar house passed covid-19 relief bill they are expected to offer amendments. now live to the floor of the u.s. senate here on c-span2. . the presiding officer: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. god of all nations, author of liberty, thank you for the gift of freedom. today, empower our lawmakers to
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protect and guard the foundations of our liberty so that america may be a blessing to the world. when our senators are weary, replenish their spirits with the inspiration of your presence. lord, make them aware that you will never forsake them in their hour of need. bellow the flickering embers of their hearts until our legislators feel the fires of patriotism, service, and hope. we pray in your marvelous name. amen.
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the presiding officer: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to the flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. the presiding officer: the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington d.c, march 3, 2021. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable ben ray lujan, a senator from the state of new mexico, to perform the duties of the chair. signed: patrick j. leahy, president pro tempore. mr. schumer: mr. president. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. schumer: i move to proceed to calendar number 1, s. 11. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: motion to proceed to s. 11, a bill to provide for an
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exception to a limitation against appointments of persons as secretary of defense within seven years of relief from active duty as a regular commissioned officer of the armed forces. mr. schumer: thank you. mr. president. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. schumer: mr. president, i begin this morning with a very exciting announcement about critical leadership roles in the senate chamber. three outstanding individuals are set to resume new responsibilities -- lieutenant general karen gibson will serve as the next senate sergeant at arms while kelly fado will serve as deputy sergeant at arms and jennifer hemingway chief of staff. the senate sergeant at arms was established 223 years ago as an outgrowth of the office of the senate doorkeeper back when one of thing biggest problems was making sure the senate had a quorum. today the sergeant at arms is the senate's chief
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administrative officer and chief law enforcement officer. so very important at this time. these, this office -- these offices have enormous responsibility of keeping the trains running and on time while at the same time keeping everyone in the capitol safe. as we've seen in recent weeks, the security component of the role is immensely important. and lieutenant general karen gibson is the perfect person for this job, the job of sergeant at arms. she has spent 33 years in active duty in the military, much of it in the office of director of national intelligence as a senior intelligence officer, where she p supported u.s. national security objectives in iraq, afghanistan, east africa, the pacific, and across the middle east. she is ready to hit the ground running because since january
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6, she has been part of a weeks-long review to identify actions that can be taken immediately, immediately to improve the security of the capitol and its members. she is 100% committed to ensuring a safe and secure working environment for senators, visitors, capitol employees, senate staff, press, and paying attention, particular attention to staffers of color. lieutenant general gibson has a big job ahead of her, but i have every confidence she will perform her duties at the same exemplary standard she set over the course of her heralded three-decade military career. kelly fado and jennifer hemingway, meanwhile, are two of the most recognizable faces in the capitol. jennifer, having recently filled in as the acting sergeant at arms, and kelly has been
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part of my team for many years on the rules committee and in my leadership office. she has helped plan, coordinate, safeguard and execute multiple presidential inaugurations and what a great job she had done in every one of them, and capitol-wide ceremonies in general. and she's been an indispensable resource to me and to my entire staff. so i'm very glad that kelly is taking on this challenge. and one other note that i'm very proud of, i think we all as senators can be proud of, this will be the first time in the senate's history that the sergeant at arms leadership will be comprised entirely of women. and i cannot think of a team better prepared than lieutenant general karen gibson, kelly fado, and jennifer hemingway. to all three of them, congratulations on your new roles and thank you for your many years of service to the senate and to our country.
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now on the american rescue plan, mr. president. as early as tonight the senate will move to take up the american rescue plan, a bill designed to immediately deliver help to american families, workers, and businesses struggling under the weight of the pandemic, and to lay the foundation for our nation's recovery so needed. every day we see signs of hope anden signs of caution in our fight against the covid pandemic. as of today, in good part because the biden administration is really doing a good job, over 78 million doses of the covid advice and consent have -- covid vaccine have been administered and over 100 million shipped, well ahead of the rosy expectations at the start of the year. just yesterday president biden announced that there will be enough vaccines for every adult in the united states by the end of may. by the end of may, far sooner
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than most had thought. and again, president biden is doing a great -- and his team are doing a great job in moving the vaccine out quickly but fairly. still, the united states averages 66,000 cases of covid per week. that exceeds anything we saw last summer during the worst months of the spread. so we cannot relax, and the need for the legislation that is before us is stronger than ever before. it's a similar story with the economy. there are green shoots, but unemployment is still over 6% and 9% for african americans. the economy has lost 10 million jobs compared to a year ago. tens of millions of americans report being thousands of dollars behind in rent and utilities. and as treasury secretary yellen
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and federal reserve powell have repeatedly warned us, our economy and its recovery remain deeply uncertain. there are bumps, but mainly because of the stimulus bills we have done. we did a bill in march and the may and june numbers look pretty good but sunk again over the summer and fall. we did a bill in december, the january numbers looked pretty good. but that is not evidence that the economy is able to sustain things on its own. that is evidence that the federal government needs to continue its role to get us back on track. and we have, we've come a long way but we have a long way to go. the american rescue plan is designed to build on our early progress and finish the job, to help our country get through the final months of the crisis, and then, equally important, bring our economy roaring back. we cannot go through the situation we did back in 2009,
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where the stimulus wasn't strong enough and we stayed in recession for years. so just because the numbers are not as bad as they were doesn't mean we don't need a continued strong push to get us out of this ditch and go upward and forward. we had always hoped this very important work would be bipartisan. regrettably, it seems that too many of our republican colleagues are resorting to the same predictable objections they raise about nearly every proposal supported by a democrat. it doesn't matter what's in the bill. everything my colleagues oppose is, quote, a liberal wish list. that's what many of them call it. well, let me tell you, this bill is not a liberal wish list. this is an american wish list. when people want checks to help them get out of the morass, that's not a liberal wish list. that's what the american people want.
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it's an american wish list. when people want resources to open schools quickly and safely, that's not a liberal wish list. that's an american wish list. when people want assistance for the hardest-hit small businesses, that's not a liberal wish list. that's an american wish list. funding to ceech teachers -- keep teachers, firefighters, in red states and blue on the job, not a liberal wish list. an american wish list. so many of the people affected by this bill are not liberals or democrats. they may be republicans, they may be independents, they may be conservatives, but they are americans who want some help to get out of this morass. and money to expand the testing and speed of the distribution of vaccines the cornerstone of ending this crisis once and for all, that's not a liberal wish list. that's an american wish list. everyone wants the vaccine out there.
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and direct checks, as i mentioned, as promised to americans struggling to keep up with expenses, to buy the groceries, the medicine, to pay the rent and utilities, that's not a liberal wish list. that's an american wish list. and i'd ask my republican colleagues to go ask their constituents which of these things their constituents oppose. none. that's what the data shows. the american rescue plan will be the single-largest anti-poverty bill in recent history, with crucial assistance for american families, particularly those struggling with the costs of child care. and it will give tax breaks for low-income workers so when they work hard, they can afford the necessities of life. so these things are, quote, the liberal wish list that republicans are talking about -- support for schools and jobs and families and workers and the vaccine?
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no way. ironically, the, quote, liberal wish list includes a whole bunch of bipartisan amendments that were accepted, including provisions to help restaurants, sponsored by senators sinema and wishing; a vaccine public awareness program sponsored by senator portman. make no mistake, make no mistake, the american rescue plan is a very, very strong bill that will move our country forward in amazing ways. so it should come as no surprise that support of the american rescue plan is coming from all over the country. hundreds of business leaders -- not the most liberal bunch -- have urged congress to pass this bill. mayors from more than 4 -- more than 435 mayors and state leaders, democrats and republicans, have said the same. they want the bill.
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as one republican mayor from michigan put it, the need is real, and not just in democratic communities. he went on to tell his fellow republicans in washington who oppose the bill to, quote, talk to some of the republican mayors. talk to some of the republican mayors. but if my republican colleagues here in the senate don't want to listen to the words of their fellow republicans and governors, they can look at the polls which show the vast majority of americans, including the majority of republicans, should support this bill. it seems that the only people who are dead set against this bill are republican senators. not republicans out in the country, not republican mayors, not republican business people, not republican small businesses. i guess all of this should be expected. covid-19 is not a red state or a
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blue state crisis. our republican friends should know that. it's not a democrat or republican concern. they should know that too. covid-19 is a menace to all of us, and we should be banding together to fight it. the economic crisis has affected all of us, and the plan that we're going to vote on this week is going to provide real robust relief for all of us. whatever our republican colleagues decide to do, the senate majority is intent on going forward and helping the american people with bold action quickly. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. under the previous order, the senate will be in a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each. mr. schumer: i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
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quorum call:
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mr. mcconnell: mr. president. the presiding officer: the republican leader. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that further proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: mr. president, last year, congress rallied five times around historic bipartisan legislation to meet urgent and unprecedented needs. our covid-19 packages reinforced the health care front lines, fueled the sprint for vaccines,
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and cast liveliness for the workers and small businesses hit hardest by shutdowns. together, those bills cost about $4 trillion, but none of those measures passed the house of representatives with less than a bipartisan supermajority of about 80%, completely overwhelming support. then last week, house democrats rammed through the american rescue plan act on a razor-thin margin of 50.7%. the only thing bipartisan about their bill was the opposition to it. their bill costs about $2 trillion. that's roughly the same size, same size as the entire cares act that saved our health system and economy through months of shutdowns last year.
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even liberal experts admit this is far, far out of proportion to what's needed now. with vaccines going into arms and the economy already primed to literally roar back. amazingly, democrats managed to allocate less than 9%, 9% of their massive bill to the entire health care response. 9% of the $1.9 trillion related to the health care response. and listen to this. even less than 1% of the $1.9 trillion to the vaccines that will actually finish the fight. they needed to save the other 91% of the borrowed money for a vast catalog of liberal spending with basically no relationship whatsoever to beating covid-19. for example, they want to send wheelbarrows of cash to state and local bureaucrats to bail
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out mismanagement from before the pandemic. they are changing the previous bipartisan funding formula in ways that will especially bias the money toward big blue states. this outraged a bipartisan group of covers largely from middle america who went on record this week. their generous new benefit packages for government employees. there are provisions to let abortion providers drain money from rescue programs that were built to save main street small businesses. this is a strange new acela corridor kickback where they will make medicare send more money to just new jersey, rhode island, and delaware. just looking at the time frame for all of their spending belies any notion that this is an
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urgent rescue plan. take the k-12 funding which contrary to science, democrats say is a prerequisite for opening schools. 95% of that supposedly urgent money would not be spent this fiscal year, but instead over the next seven years. i will say that again. 95% of the money for k-12 is not going to be spent this year but over the next seven years. not my definition of an emergency. grants for rural health care would be on a slow drip out through fiscal 2024. agriculture-related funds would trickle out over the next -- listen to this -- over the next decade. that doesn't sound very urgent to me. what the american people need are fast-acting plans to get schools reopened now, get laidoff workers back into jobs, and finish the fight against
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this virus right now. the democrats have instead drawn up a liberal omnibus to fund miscellaneous government spending over the next decade. so we're adding all this money to the national debt in the name of a rescue package with most of the money being spent out far in the future. so, mr. president, that's why there was bipartisan opposition over in the house. that's why aspects of the house bill are already dropping like flies before this thing even hits the senate floor. a pet project for the san francisco bay area gone. special upgrades for a bridge connecting new york to canada gone. even cnn had to admit these were, quote, controversial, end quote. senator sanders' far-left minimum wage policy that would
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have killed 1.4 million jobs just as we try to recover, that appears to be gone, too, at least for now. according to public reports, right now as we speak, several of our democratic colleagues are frantically trying to trim back other crazy provisions. the runaway government bailouts, the policies that will keep workers at home when we should be focusing on rehiring. just a few days ago, president biden's chief of staff bragged that this smorgasbord of borrowed money will add up to, quote, the most progressive domestic legislation in a generation, end quote. so that's what you get when the democratic leader persuades all of my distinguished friends across the aisle that their first undertaking as senate committee chairman should be to outsource all their gavels to the house. now, mr. president, the senate wrote the cares act.
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in the earliest days of the crisis, this chamber took the bull by the horns. i personally assembled bipartisan task forces that crafted urgent solutions that helped america weather the storm. this time around, on the substance, the senate has been largely missing in action. house democrats are bristling and publicly pushing back in our senate democratic colleagues even try to make their mark on this partisan bill in small ways. so these two radically different processes have generated two radically different pieces of legislation. the democrats had a choice. they chose to go it alone. attack to the left. leave families' top priorities on the cutting room floor. now, on a completely different matter, just six weeks into unified democratic government, we already have another crisis
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brewing on our southern border. in january, customs and border protection logged more than 78,000 encounters on our southwest border. more than double the figure from january of 2020. last week, h.h.s. sources told reporters we just logged the busiest february in the history of the unaccompanied alien child program. the number of kids turning up on our border with no parents is soaring, and everyone expects the numbers to keep climbing. now, the biden administration is reportedly planning to reopen the same kinds of emergency shelters over which democrats vilified, vilified the trump administration a couple of years ago. both president biden and his secretary of homeland security have said this week they don't think this is a crisis. not a crisis, they say? well, if this isn't a crisis,
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these unaccompanied kids pouring in and exceeding capacity amid a pandemic, i'd hate to see what one looks like. the cause of this emergency is not some mystery. it's not mysterious at all. everybody knows exactly what happened. the new administration explicitly campaigned on weakening border security and six weeks in they have reversed the remain in mexico policy, begun letting more people in florida haphazard way and broadcast confusing mixed messages. the "l.a. times" says, quote, biden immigration policy stirs confusion at mexico border. they interviewed one woman who had crossed the rio grande on a smugglers' raft and was only briefly detained before being released into our country.
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she explained she had specifically come because of the new biden administration. quote, that gave us the opportunity to come. another reporter put it this way. the message hdtv in tijuana and other mexican border cities was simple. joe biden was now letting people in. we're not just talking about the fine details of border policy. the big backdrop behind this whole discussion is the sweeping, sweeping left-wing amnesty plan that the biden administration unveiled before they were even sworn in. they want to fasttrack 11 million illegal immigrants into temporary legal status, then green cards, and then full citizenship. so, mr. president, the far left loves this approach, but so does a certain cross-section of big business.
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there is a whole lot of cultural power and economic power pushing the liberal vision. as for the best interests of america's workers, well, that's not as trendy a cause in certain circles. the truth is that it's not helpful or compassionate to just open up our borders. it's not fair to american citizens and workers, but neither is it fair to the people who are being lured into a humanitarian crisis in the middle of a pandemic because they believe this democratic administration just conspicuously turned on a neon vacancy sign. republicans just spent four years making major headway on the security and humanitarian crisis at our border. it took serious policy changes. it took international diplomacy with multiple countries. and it took border enforcement.
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the american people would be better served if the biden administration had chosen to build on this progress instead of rapidly, rapidly trying to tear it down. mr. mcconnell: i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. q quorum call: quorum call:
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mr. durbin: mr. president. the presiding officer: the assistant democratic leader. mr. durbin: i ask consent the quorum call be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: mr. president, history was made on monday. judge merrick garland finally got a vote before the senate judiciary committee. it was a long time coming. his nomination was approved by a
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bipartisan vote of 15-7. i'm not surprised. he is superbly qualified to be the next attorney general of the united states. experience, judgment, integrity, he checks all the boxes. he served with distinction on the d.c. circuit court for 23 years and in that time developed a representation for fidelity to the rule of law, strict adherence to judicial independence, and a commitment to treat people with fairness, dignity and respect. it's no surprise that he's been endorsed by 60 former federal judges and by judges, of course, who have been appointed of presidents of both political parties. in addition to his experience on the bench, he is a long-time veteran of the department of justice where he served before he ascended to the d.c. circuit.
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he's uniquely qualified at this moment in history to lead the department, to investigate and prosecute, for example, the january 6 insurrection, the mob that invaded this capitol building. the reason he's qualified is he led the investigation in the prosecution of the oklahoma city bombing. we remember that very well. that was clearly a case of domestic terrorism. his work on that project won praise from across the political spectrum. he also personally understands the department's role in protecting civil rights. i believe he's the person to restore honor and dignity to this department. he has support from every major law enforcement organization in the country, 150 former justice department officials of both parties, the nation's leading civil rights organizations, and
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many others left, right, and center. his credentials are second to none. and his character in particular, his selflessness is a model to us all. when we held the markup in the committee on his nomination, the most significant witness may have been a lady by the name of mrs. butler. she testified in the second panel. she's the mother of two d.c. public school students who have been tutored and mentored by judge garland. after her first child had received his helping hand for several years, the second child asked if he could be included in the next round, and then they both wanted the help of judge garland. doesn't it speak volumes of a man who's reached that station in life that he would be so humble as to sit down and help
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children he never met before find their way through life. it was a touching moment when she testified. it really was an insight into his character. so you'd think with a 15-7 vote, you'd think with all of these endorsements, you'd think with four members of the republican senate judiciary committee behind him, that this would be a nomination so important to this nation of an attorney general that it would be given expedited treatment on the floor of the senate. no. unfortunately there was an objection to expediting his nomination so he could get to work at the department of justice. and as a consequence, we face the senate procedure, which means it could be days, maybe even into next week before he can take the job. that's unfortunate. we need him now more than ever.
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even republican leader mitch mcconnell has said he would support him. chuck grassley, my friend and the ranking member of the senate judiciary committee, he voted for him. there's just no reason why the senate should not immediately hold a vote for merrick garland's nomination. he is the last remaining member of president biden's national security team to be chosen. it's time for him to take this job. the attorney general is needed to fight the threat of domestic terrorism which the f.b.i. director spoke to yesterday in the senate judiciary committee, to reorganize this department and get it moving in the right direction and to face the many challenges when it comes to national security in the -- and the administration of justice. we should confirm merrick garland immediately. i sincerely hope that whoever is
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holding his nomination on the other side can be persuaded to give him his chance. mr. president, i'd like to speak to a different subject and ask that it be placed in a operate is part of the -- in a separate part of the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: i listened to the speeches, mr. president, of senator schumer, senator mcconnell about the senate rescue plan, president biden's proposal to deal with the pandemic, the state of the economy and many other aspects of american culture and life that need to be addressed. and clearly there's a difference of opinion. i couldn't help but think as senator mcconnell was recounting our experience last year that when it came to the cares act a year ago the $2 trillion plan to respond to the state of the pandemic and the economy, the plan that was
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engineered by treasury secretary mnuchin, a member of the trump administration and bargained and negotiated with republicans and democrats alike, that when they finely agreed, the vote was 96-0 in this chamber. every democrat voted for the proposed cares act that was engineered by the trump administration. party was pushed aside because the priority was our nation. it happened again in december of last year. president trump's administration, secretary mnuchin at the table, democrats and republicans bargaining, the final vote, 92-6 in the senate, not bad. and the six noes were all republicans. again, the republicans stepped up and said, we will support this bipartisan effort because that's why we're here.
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the american people sent us here to do a job. now comes the new president, joe biden, and says good work last december, but that was temporary and that was supposed to be a special effort. now we've got to finish the year. we've got some deadlines coming. less than two weeks from now, the unemployment programs will be running out for millions of families, and the rental assistance, some will face evictions and some will not have enough to feed their family. so get to work. pass the american rescue plan on a bipartisan basis. we have yet to hear one republican senator who will support president biden's plan. some of them have legitimate differences with his policy, and i wish they would come to the table and be part of the conversation, but none of them has really stepped up and said
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we're in for the big effort that the president's calling for. that's what it will take, and, unfortunately because of that in a 50-50 senate, we will need every democratic senator to support the president's plan and to pass a version of what the house is sending over to us. we'll go through an exercise called reconciliation in just a few days. it's not a pretty scene if you follow legislative history, but it's long overdue. and do you know the one thing that should drive us on is not only the obvious need for this, but the fact that the american people overwhelming support what president biden proposed. the american people believe, as he does, that we should be investing billions into more vaccines and more people to administer them. the american people believe that a cash payment to families is
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essential in some parts of this country. they'd like to see the $600 in last december's bill complemented with $1,400 in this proposal. they'd like for us to put money on the table for people who are unemployed so they can put food on that same table and they'd like for us to get the schools ready to deal with reopening and classes that are safe for the kids and the teachers. there's no argument about that. 20% of people may oppose it, but 80% support it, and, yet, we can't find one republican senator to support president biden's plan. they say it cost too much. well, the chairman of the federal reserve, mr. powell, a conservative republican economist, has told us, be careful that you do too little.
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this economy is fragile, it needs to be strengthened. we need to inject into this economy enough of our resources so that people are back purchasing again and businesses are reopened. he's warned us if you do too little and you cut it off too soon, you're going to pay for it for years to come with unemployment and problems with the sluggish economy. my republican colleagues say it's just too much money. well, i think they're wrong. and at this moment in history i'm appeared to err on the side of the american people and american businesses and making certain that we have a fighting chance to put this behind us. our constituents know about the cost of this situation. they want us to provide the solutions. they want results from congress. if we were to delay this payment, people would see their
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unemployment insurance lapse and hardships continue. we shouldn't play politics with it either. and the two big bills last year, the democrats were on board for plans engineered by the trump administration. economists believe that we need to move and move decisively. according to an analysis by the brookings institution, passing a comprehensive plan like the american rescue plan could produce a 4% growth in u.s. g.d.p. this year. moody's estimates that passing the same plan would create 7.5 million american jobs. how about that? we got good news over the weekend with the arrival of another safe and effective vaccine. this is the third one, the johnson & johnson vaccine and perhaps more to follow. it holds the promise of finally
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getting america inoculated, vaccinated and breaking the back of this pandemic. this new vaccine prevents hospitalizations and deaths, stored at normal temperatures, a single shot. all good news. but we need more than a promise of a vaccine. we need a plan. these vaccines are of no good to us sitting on a shelf or not being produced in volumes necessary. president biden's rescue plan, which not a single republican supports, would provide i think i've got the number right, $160 billion in resources for the production of vaccines and the distribution. if we ever needed it, this is the moment. thankfully president biden's leadership has led to allocation s to illinois, vaccines that have increased by 70% since he took over as
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president. we still have our challenges at the local level. i want to salute the government, j.b. pritzker, mayor and city of chicago, lori lightfoot, cook county president and all the others who are doing their best. i announced with senator duckworth just last friday that we're going to put a new facility in the parking lot of the united center where the amazing chicago bulls play basketball from time to time, and it's going to be able to vaccinate thousands of people every single day. it's federal assistance that's making it happen, and it happens to be in a neighborhood where african americans and latinos are nearby, and we need to protect them with even more effectiveness than we have to date. they account for 33% of the population of that area and only 16% have been vaccinated.
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the american rescue plan provides $20 billion to expand vaccine distribution capacity. you would think that that would maybe attract one republican supporter. it should. there are certainly some who argue against all vaccines and spending any money for it and all the rest, but they are such a small minority. the vast majority of americans of both political parties understand that have we've got to go to vaccinations as quickly as possible. the biden rescue plan does that. i wish they would join us in supporting it. there's also a need for money for education. there's $128 billion in this bill for additional education funding k-12, and there's been arguments made on the floor here by the republicans that we just don't need it. they point to data showing that school districts haven't spent the money that we provided in previous relief packages. well, just talk to the principals and teachers in your
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home state about that conclusion. you'll find the money is desperately needed and that the money that has been appropriated before will be spent in an orderly way and not shoveled out the window. we are looking ahead to the entire year and making certain that we have a real school year year, perhaps the remainder of this year but certainly for next year. illinois needs these funds and america does. when it comes to state and local support, i have to tell you we've paid a heavy price in our state of illinois in our major cities. we've seen expenses go up and we've seen revenue go down, and we need help. not unreasonable. this helping hand will save jobs that are necessary for us, some of them health care jobs, some of them security and safety jobs. but they'll save jobs, that's why the state and local resources included in this bill are so important and timely.
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over the past year states and localities have lost 1.3 million jobs of their payrolls, far more than the 750,000 lost in the great recession. there is needed help from the federal government, and it's needed now. we've recovered just 12 million of the 22 million jobs we've lost since the start of the pandemic. according to the consumer financial protection bureau, more than 8 million rental households and 2 million homeowners were behind in housing payments at the end of last year. the burden is tough. and for those of us lucky enough to have escaped it, we may not know the feeling, the empty feeling of addiction or the loss of a home that you paid a mortgage on for years. i'm going to close. i see one of my colleagues on the floor prepared to speak. i'd like to close with the story of galenlen hensen from midloate
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midloathe -- midlothian, illinois. when the american economy was upended by pandemic, his industry froze to save lives and avoid crowds. like so many others galen went on unemployment. even with the supplement to state unemployment he had only half of his regular income replaced. he struggleses, still struggles to make ends meet. he wrote to me urging that we put aside our partisan differences and pass the american rescue plan. let's listen to gallen and let's listen to many others like him. they're counting on us. i hope when all is said and done, after all the speeches, that just as we came together on a bipartisan basis to pass the rescue plan twice last year, 96-0, 92-6, under the trump administration with all democrats supporting it, wouldn't it be great if we showed that same bipartisanship
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again. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the democratic whip. mr. durbin: i have seven requests force committees to meet during today's session of the senate with the approval of the majority and minority leaders. the presiding officer: duly noted. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the republican whip. mr. thune: mr. president, less than two months ago president biden emphasized a theme of unity at his inauguration.
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i quote, today on this january day my whole soul is in this, he said. bring america together, uniting our people, uniting our nation, end quote. admirable words, mr. president, but so far they haven't been met with much action. on the first big legislative test of his presidency, coronavirus legislation, president biden and democrats in congress have pursued a resolutely partisan force. they not only failed to invite republican input in any meaningful way, they deliberately excluded it by passing their coronavirus package using budget reconciliation. this allows them to pass the bill in the senate by a simple majority vote instead of requiring the concurrence of 60 senators to move to a vote on the bill, which is typically how legislation is passed here in the senate, including the five coronavirus bills that we passed last year when the republicans had the majority
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here in the senate. now, mr. president, democrats' decision to use reconciliation might be understandable. if republicans had declared our opposition to any further coronavirus legislation. but of course that's not the case. republicans made it clear that we were willing to work with democrats on additional coronavirus legislation. in fact, ten republican senators put together a plan and met with president biden for two hours to discuss a bipartisan agreement. but while the president listened to them graciously, democrats and the president quickly made it clear that they intended to move forward without republican input. two days after republicans met with president biden, the house passed its partisan budget resolution to pave the way for reconciliation here in the senate. two days later the senate followed suit. clearly there were no plans to let negotiations with republicans slow down the partisan juggernaut.
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in fact, democrats have been pretty determined to make sure republicans don't have a voice in this legislation at all. during markups of the covid relief package in house committees, republicans offered a number of amendments. 245 amendments, to be exact. out of those 245 amendments, democrats accepted exactly one for the final bill. one, mr. president. among the amendments house democrats rejected were commonsense proposals to the school funding to the reopening reopening -- the school funding to the reopening of schools. there was an amendment to unfreeze coronavirus food assistance program for freanches. farmers and ranchers. and an amendment to protect health care providers from frivolous lawsuits. mr. president, the one thing that can be said for the house is at least it gave members in the house a chance to review the
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bill in committee. here in the senate, democrats' covid package will come to the floor without any committee consideration. senators are just supposed to accept wheamb -- whatever the house sent over minus items excluded from a reconciliation package by senate budget rules. mr. president, democrats' partisan course on covid legislation is particularly disappointing because up until now covid relief has been a bipartisan process. that's right. to date, congress has passed five covid relief bills, and every single one of those bills was overwhelmingly bipartisan. the republican-led senate took up and passed covid relief legislation by margins of 96-1, 90-8, 96-0, 92-6, and one
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even went by voice vote here in the senate. back then of course democrats thought that the minority party should have a voice in the process. in fact, the democratic leader filibustered the original cares act, our largest covid bill to date, multiple times until he got a version that he was satisfied with. now that the democrats are in the majority, however, they decided the minority representation can be dispensed with. it's democrats' way or the highway on covid legislation. republicans and the americans that they represent will not be allowed to contribute. i guess it's not surprising, mr. president. after all, democrats pursued a bipartisan process, they would have probably have had to eliminate some of the non-covid related provisions in the legislation like the bailout of multiemployer pension plans, hardly a coronavirus emergency.
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they might have been forced to trim their slush fund for states and ensure that the distribution formula wasn't weighted heavily in favor of blue states. the senator from illinois was just down here talking about the importance of helping out the states. well, under the formula they've designed for this relief package, the dollars skew heavily surprisingly to states like new york, where the democratic leader is from, or california, where the house speaker is from, or illinois, where the senate democrat whip is from. it seems like a lot of states around the country, mr. president, sort of got left out when it came to how to distribute what is going to be a huge amount of money that's going to go out to state and local governments if the democrats have their way with this bill. they might have had to reject a measure to give labor unions and planned parenthood access to loans designed to help small
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businesses. again, hardly something that we ought to be doing in a coronavirus relief bill that is designed to make sure that small businesses stay viable, but it does satisfy a lot of democrat special interest groups. they might have had to tie funding for schools to school reopening. it seems like a fair consideration. there was an amendment offered during the budget resolution when it was being considered on the floor of the senate, mr. president, that would have required schools where every teacher had had the vaccination to reopen in order to qualify for federal assistance under this legislation, but there is nothing in that in this bill. there is nothing in that of all the money the $128 billion which will go out to schools, which by the way we put $68 billion out there already, much of which hasn't been spent, but all this money that would go out to the schools, there is no stipulation
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anywhere in this legislation that would attempt to tie funding for schools to their reopening so that we can get our kids back to school and learning again in that environment. in fact, mr. president, it would be arguable, i think, that the schools, if the teachers can get vaccinated -- and that was the very language of the amendment that was offered in the budget resolution by republicans. it was defeated here in the senate, 50-50 vote. all republicans voted for it, all democrats against it. but again, all it simply said was that if you are going to get federal funding under this bill and all of the teachers in your school are vaccinated against the coronavirus, then you have to reopen. if you don't reopen, after all the teachers have been vaccinated, then you don't get funding under this bill. that seems like a fairly straightforward request given the fact that so many schools across this country and so many of our kids continue to have to
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learn virtually at a time when we need to have them in the classroom, mr. president, and this is obviously something that wasn't included in this legislation. i would argue, mr. president, that all the changes that i just mentioned would have made the bill better but they might not have made the democrat allies as happy. mr. president, this whole process could have been different. we could be here today with another bipartisan covid bill that would speed up vaccination and help our country through the rest of the pandemic. in fact, as i said, there were lots of republicans who were interested in negotiating, sitting down with democrats to do just that. the democrat whip, the senator from illinois, was just down here saying boy, wouldn't it be great if this could be bipartisan like the other bills that we have done earlier that were bipartisan. i would simply point out the obvious, mr. president, and that is that all the bills that were
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done last year when republicans had the majority here in the senate were bipartisan because we did them under regular order. we did them under the 60-vote threshold that's required to move them through the senate. what the democratic leadership has opted to do is to use a rarely used legislative vehicle here, budget reconciliation, to do a bunch of things they can do simply with 51 votes, and it was pretty clear to me that they had no intention ever of including republican ideas or involving republicans in developing this legislation or ultimately having republican support for it at the end. in fact, that was probably made most clear by a statement made by the chief of staff to president biden, the white house, when he described this as the most progressive domestic legislation in a generation suggesting, of course, this is
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filled with all kinds of liberal priorities, most of which have very little to do with the coronavirus. in fact, if you look at where the funding goes in this, the $1.9 trillion, less than 10%, less than 10%, mr. president, deals with funding for public health care. in other words, funding for vaccines either for production or distribution, funding for providers, funding for mental health, funding for anything related to health care, mr. president. if you look at the $1.9 trillion, it's less than 10%. less than 10% of that is actually directed at addressing the actual health care crisis that we're facing as a nation. and i would simply say that it's pretty clear to me that if democrats had wanted to, they could have had, easily could have had a bipartisan bill there are ten republicans he know today who would have voted for a bill that would include funding for vaccines, that would include funding for the paycheck protection program, that would
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include funding for unemployment checks, actually would have included funding for direct checks to go out, which i know is a very popular thing. but, mr. president, that consultation never occurred, that desire to get input never happened, that offer to allow the committees of jurisdiction to even have a voice or any input into this. and frankly, if i'm a democrat here in the senate, i would be outraged that my committees were bypassed completely. there was no consideration at any committee, any committee here in the senate, mr. president, about what the contents of this legislation should be or what the substance of it should look like in the end. it was literally ramrodded, came from the house of representatives, taken up by the democrat leadership, and no input from the committees. republicans for sure, but also democrats, of all people, who you think would want to be heard from. i mean, they have got these
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chairmanships of these committees for a reason. they finally got the majority and they got committee gavels and all that. here we're talking about $1.9 trillion in spending, and the committee chairs, the committees themselves had no action when it comes to shaping or in any way producing this legislation. so to suggest, mr. president, as the democrat whip, senator durbin did earlier, that he really hopes that this would be bipartisan, i -- i -- it gets hard to take that even seriously given how this has proceeded and how the democrats opted to do this, relative to how the other five coronavirus relief bills were passed last year under republican majority. we are looking instead, mr. president, at a partisan bill that directs billions of taxpayer dollars to projects and policies that have nothing to do with overcoming covid.
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and just as one, again, observation. i made this point on the floor yesterday, but one thing that we need to remember here is that we are -- we are talking about real money here and we're talking about it all being borrowed money. this is all money that goes on the debt. every dollar that we are going to provide of the $1.9 trillion that is proposed during this democratic bill is a borrowed dollar. it's all a dollar that goes on the debt, the debt which has grown dramatically in this last year, in some cases because we had to move aggressively as we did last year at this time in march with a bill that would get immediate assistance out there to people who desperately needed it. we were fighting at that time a major emergency, a minge crisis. a year later we have a very different perspective on the world today than we did 12 months ago. but that $1.9 trillion when added to the other coronavirus relief bills end up being about
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$6 trillion, $6 trillion. i mean, that amount of money is just absolutely hard to comprehend and fathom. we're talking about compounding the $4 trillion or so that's already out there with another $2 trillion with this bill. as i pointed out yesterday, mr. president, at some point, some point the chickens come home to roost. you cannot continue down this path without consequence on the economy. the argument in support of this legislation by the democrats is we need to do more. we have to get this out there. we have to stimulate the economy. my fear in a lot of respects right now is the economy could be overstimulated. the congressional budget office said just recently that without any additional assistance, the economy is going to grow in 2021 at 3.7%. and we are flooding the zone with so much money that the money supply numbers have been exploding. in 2020, money supply was up
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into -- as they measure it, was up 26%. year over year, from 2000 to 2019, average about 6%. this year it will be up another 12%. there is a lot of money, mr. president, out there in the economy. what does that mean long term for our economy and for the individual workers in our economy? well, first off, it means that as there are more and more dollars chasing fewer goods, you're going to get inflation. that's inevitable. and when you get inflation, typically what happens is interest rates follow because those who are buying that debt, if it's being lost to inflation, want to make sure that they are getting a return on their investment. so interest rates start to go up. when interest rates go up, the amount of money that we borrow becomes even more expensive because we have to pay interest, we have to finance that debt. and so the amount of interest that we will be -- the amount of federal tax dollars that we will be using to pay for interest on the debt will explode and will swamp, will swamp literally the amount of tax revenue coming in
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to this country. we know that because the debt is so large already, and we know that because interest rates have been low for a long time, which has lulled everybody into a sense of complacency that this isn't going to have any impact, that there is no down side. we can just keep borrowing because interest rates are low. well, if you keep putting as much money as we are, another $2 trillion out there into the economy, mr. president, i would argue that you are not only going to unleash inflation, which has dramatic consequence for our fiscal situation as a country, but it also has dramatic consequence for the personal financial situation of the american family, because when inflation takes off, everything that people have to buy, from food to gasoline to clothing, all those things go up. inflation pushes the price of things higher, which means it's more expensive for the average family in this country. and then the other effect, mr. president, long term is when
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inflation starts to go up, as i said, interest rates start to follow. we are already starting to see some evidence of that. when interest rates go up, not only does the federal government, the fiscal picture get much, much worse because the amount of tax dollars that we have to spend to finance our debt grows dramatically, but the american consumer also is faced with higher interest rates. so mortgage payments go up. if somebody is trying to finance a home. interest rates on cars, automobiles will go up. interest rates on student loans go up. that also has a direct impact on the pocketbooks of people in this country. mr. president, i would just conclude, but i think it's really important to point out, and i know my state is not really indicative of every state around the country. there are states that have different financial situations. but in south dakota right now, we have 3% unemployment. we have a growing economy. we have a state that has already benefited significantly from
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earlier coronavirus relief legislation to the point where there are dollars they are still trying to figure out how to use from the previous installations of federal spending that we have put out there. it just seems to me that we ought to, given the potential adverse consequence of higher interest rates and higher inflation and higher debt and spending, think about that what we're doing here should be very targeted. it should be very specific. and we know now, we have a lot more insight into where the needs are in the economy than we did at this point last year in march when we did the first cares package. we're at a time now where it's very clear what those needs are. we could come up with a much more targeted bill. those ten republicans that i mentioned have come up with a bill that's in the $600 billion to $700 billion range which addresses the health care issues, that addresses the unemployment insurance issues, it addresses the p.p.p. program, it deals with direct checks, as i mentioned.
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it's got funding for education. i think some funding in there for state and local governments, which frankly, as i said, i'm not for. i would rather see us take those dollars, if they are going to put them somewhere, put them toward something that's more targeted. at least a formula that makes more sense. but let me just say that in my view it is just really important right now that we be circumspect. we're talking about borrowed money. this is now -- this is the house's dollars, mr. president. this is not -- this isn't just magic money that appears out of nowhere. every single dollar that we are using is borrowed, will be added to the debt, will be a liability for somebody to have to pay back, for our kids and our grandkids. and if the potential economic impacts that i mentioned actually occur and interest rates start to tick up, it's going to be a lot more expensive money to finance into the future. and i think that's a very real
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consideration, something we ought to be thinking long and hard about, not just because of the fiscal situation that the country faces right now, but because of the financial situation that every american family, as they sit around the kitchen table and talk about these pocketbook issues will be looking at. if we see higher inflation, if we see higher interest rates, it's going to affect their jobs, it's going to affect their cost of living, and it's going to make it that harder for them to make ends meet. less than two months after the president committed himself to unity at his inauguration, the first major bill of his presidency will be a resolutely partisan piece of legislation. mr. president, i hope, i hope that this is not a sign of things to come. mr. president, i yield the floor and i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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>> quorum call: quorum call:
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mr. grassley: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: i ask that the calling of the quorum be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. grassley: this week my democratic colleagues are poised to push through the senate here untargeted and unfocused one in nine-tenths tax and spending package and it's all being done under the guise of covid relief. and some of it is very essential for covid relief. but a small part of it.
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this whole act is very unfortunate because it didn't have to be this way. in the past year, republicans and democrats were able to work together to pass more than $4 trillion in covid relief and it was all done with strong bipartisan support. from the start of this year, my republican colleagues and i have stood ready to engage in go good-faith bipartisan negotiations to provide further tax relief. however, despite all the talk of unity and bipartisanship by president biden, the new senate majority hasn't even attempted to reach across the aisle.
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bipartisanship worked five times over the last 12 months starting about one year ago right now. the majority demonstrating their unwillingness to compromise have resorted to using special budget procedures so that they may be pass a partisan bill strictly along party lines. the result is going to be an unwieldily nearly $2 trillion package that hasn't shaped -- or isn't shaped according to current economic realities but strictly by a partisan liberal agenda. in february the nonpartisan congressional budget office, c.b.o., projected that even
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without any further stimulus, gross domestic product will return to its prepandemic levels by mid 2021. and for the year, the economy will grow at 4.6%. now, if those two points aren't strong enough, then it will -- it was recently reported that retail sales jumped five and six-tenths percent during january and for the national retail federation is projected retail sales for the year to grow at the fastest rate in two decades. and then if those four points aren't enough, at the same time
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personal income is reported to have risen by 10% and the personal savings rate has surged from a historically high 13.4% to over 20%. the american economy will soon be roaring without a $2 trillion further stimulus. it's no longer march of 2020 when the economy was in free fall and businesses and places of employment were shut down. and how were they shut down? by those of us right here in the congress of the united states, the federal government -- doing it by government edict. while many individuals of certain sectors of our economy continue to struggle and of course deserve a helping hand,
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others have largely recovered and are no longer in need of assistance. so at this time instead of $2 trillion, two-thirds of it not needed, why not help those hurting and not pour gasoline on the inflationary fires. a covid relief package should reflect this reality in both size and scope. even long-time democrat economists such as obama's former dirr of national security economic council have raised concerns about enacting nearly a $2 trillion stimulus package at this point when we're already in recovery. so as former secretary of
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treasury summers, besides i also refer to him as director of national economic economist, this is what he says. quote, the proposed biden stimulus is three times as large as the gap between actual and potential output as estimated by the c.b.o. enacting a stimulus unmoored from economic reality poses real risk to our economy, including inflation and slower economic growth moving forward. in fact, a penn-wharton budget model and that analysis of the president's proposed projects, the proposed stimulus would result in a decrease in both
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g.d.p. and wages in 2022 and over the next two decades. while inflation has been subdued in recent years, we shouldn't let that lull in inflation lull us into a false sense of confidence that we can spend with impunity, with no consequences. we are in unchartered waters with debt held by the public exceeding the size of our economy and trillion-dollar annual deficits. moreover, as economist john greenwood and steve heinke, professors of economics at johns hopkins, recently warned -- quote -- the money supply will
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grow by nearly 12% this year. that's twice as fast as its average growth rate from 2000 to 2019. it's a rate that spells trouble, inflation trouble -- end of quote. without another round of stimulus that we're going to be debating in the next few days here in the united states senate and probably passing before the end of the week. concern of inflation has been dismissed by the white house and by the federal reserve. this sounds too familiar to those of us who witnessed the stagflation of the 1970's. we were told by president nixon and his advisors that they could
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spend their way to lower unemployment and economic growth without inflation. they were wrong. the nixon administration mistakes ushered in a decade of disastrous inflation, and i've said for decades, if nixon did something, we ought to learn from it and not repeat it. it was with this background of stagflation that i first ran for congress on a platform of fighting inflation. inflation is a regressive stealth tax on every single american. it is particularly unfair to those who have very little money to begin with and those who have lived beneath their incomes to save for their future only to see their hard work wiped out as
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the value of the dollars that they put away plunges. hopefully nixon inflation is only history, never to return. but none of us can guarantee that inflation won't return. not only is the size of this stimulus package detached from reality, so is the scope. a common adage for stimulus and economic relief measures is that they should be timely; they should be temporary; and they should be targeted. by this standard, the democrats' stimulus is well wide of the mark. more than one-third or about $700 billion of the funding in
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the bill wouldn't even be spent until 2022 or beyond, according to the c.b.o. how does anybody know that we need a stimulus in 2022 and beyond? by what standard does the biden administration say that we're going to need that? and hasn't that got something to do about the failure of this bill to accomplish what it wants to accomplish, or even the need for it, if some of this money won't be spent until the outer years? i don't know about you, but i don't see how spending hundreds of billions of dollars years from now is either timely or
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targeted, as these economists talk about a stimulus, if it's going to be any good, needs to be timely and targeted. how does it -- or what does all this have to do with fighting the pandemic right now, the people hurting right now? are these same people going to be hurting in these out years when some of this money is going to be spent? if that's the case, this brand-new administration is already admitting that their policies of the future are a failure and a failure today. nearly a quarter of the package -- or $422 billion -- is dedicated to direct payments to households with incomes up to $200,000, all regardless of whether they have lost a job or
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experienced any loss of income. such untargeted payments make little sense. when just this past week it was reported that personal income was up 10%, personal savings rates soared to over 20%. we clearly shouldn't be using taxpayers' dollars to pad the bank accounts of those with six-figure incomes when we ought to be targeting this towards those who are unemployed and those who are low-income. then we have another $350 billion of this package going to be allocated to bail out fiscally irresponsible states at the expense of states that have managed their state budgets wisely, like my home state of iowa. this spending is hard to
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justify, given recent reports indicating most states saw little to know drop in revenue between 2019 and 2020. and many states that had previously projected shortfalls are now projecting budget surpluses. the package also includes hundreds of billions of dollars in liberal wish-list priorities that have very little to do with the current pandemic. this includes enhancements to refundable tax credits, an expansion of obamacare subsidies, and an $86 billion taxpayer bailout of poorly managed pension plans, and
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poorly managed pension plans, that's something i've been trying too reform over the last two years, and reform is necessary as much as helping them with some taxpayers' dollars. but there's absolutely no reforms in this stimulus of those multiemployer pension plans. it's simply an $86 billion bailout. in the case of covid, there are some things that no amount of money can address. until the widespread immunity is achieved, many people will not feel comfortable eating out, going to a movie, taking in a concert, or traveling on a
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vacation. spending trillions of dollars will not change the attitude of those people that are going to still be very cautious. so here's what i'd spend the money on and a lot less money than $1.9 trillion. so, yes, let's prioritize funding for vaccine distribution, assistance for the unemployed, and aid for small businesses in the struggling sectors. and, by all means, let's open our schools. doing this doesn't require $2 trillion. let's remove the pork in this bill. let's set aside the long-term left-wing wish list and work together, as we did before in
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those five bipartisan bills over the last 12 months, and they have passed both bodies overwhelmingly. several of my republican colleagues approached the white house a few weeks ago with a list similar to what i just said, maybe a longer list of items proposed by president biden that could get republican support with minimal tweaks. a bipartisan package along those lines could well have passed a few days ago. it's still not too late. i hope we can make a bipartisan effort happen yet. i yield the floor and suggest the -- or, i yield the floor. mr. barrasso: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. barrasso: thank you, madam
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president. first i'd like to associate myself with the outstanding remarks from the senior senator from iowa, whose long experience in this body is one we all look to with great admiration and respect. and when he speaks of this, he's well-known for his fundamental focus on taxpayer dollars and making sure money isn't wasted, make sure money is directed to the areas where it is supposed to go, where it is needed the most. and when he points out how this is a bill basically piled on with pork -- and he's from iowa; he knows about pork -- he points out how misguided this effort is, how expensive it is, and how misdirected it is. i just want to associate myself with these wonderful remarks of the senior senator from iowa, and it is a pleasure to serve with him. i also come to the floor today, madam president, to talk about the need for integrity in our
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elections. in 2020, the american people voted for a 50/50 senate. we're in that body today. and gave republicans nearly a dozen more seats in the house of representatives. in the presidential election, 37 electoral votes were decided by less than one percent in those states. without those 37 electoral votes, president biden would have failed to achieve a majority in the electoral college. this was a close election. the reason it is a close election is it is a closely divided country. i'm home every weekend in wyoming, and the two things i hear about is, one, this massive bill in front of the senate right now, $1.9 trillion amount of money that's all going to be added to the debt and a concern for that spending, and the other issue is the integrity of our elections. so we have a close election, we have a closely divided country. if you would think anything, that should be a mandate to move to the middle, to find common ground and work for solutions.
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it's the kind of things that the president talked about in his inaugural address on january 20. at a time like this, americans want to make sure that our own elections are safe and secure and fair. i think voters, no matter what their political party or predisposition is, i think all voters deserve that, and they want it. but when republicans raise questions about the integrity of the election, well, we are attacked. and we've seen that now. in fact, earlier this very week, the majority leader of the united states senate spoke of -- quote -- the pernicious and nasty guise of election integrity. pernicious and nasty guise of election integrity. the majority leader of the united states senate. he attacked the motives of millions of americans who want to be confident in our elections. every american ought to want to be confident in our elections.
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but it looks like some democrats who may accuse us of this, many democrats share our concerns. i hear that both sides of the aisle. democrats in iowa right now are contesting a congressional race. as i stand here, democrats in the house are -- this is the roone i'm here is democrats in the house are considering the most dramatic changes in decades. it's called house bill number 1. house bill number 1. to me, that means it's their number-one priority. otherwise, why would they introduce it as their first bill and label it as house bill number 1? how many bill number 1 -- house bill number one for democrats in the house is not coronavirus, it's not jobs. it's not schools. it's a change in the election process for the american people and a big mandate coming out of
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washington. so the number-one priority of house democrats is not those key issues, but their number-one issue is elections and changing elections in our country. well, the bill, interestingly, didn't go through a normal committee process as bills are supposed to do in the house or the senate. it went straight to the floor. nancy pelosi's desk, floor of the united states house of representatives. hundreds of pages are in there, madam president, of new mandates, and it tells each of our states how to hold elections. it doesn't say states, you do it. it tells the states how to do it. these aren't just any mandates. these are radical, left-wing mandates that people in my home state of wyoming view as scary and say would make the elections less secure. this bill is so radical that an earlier version of it was felt to be too liberal even for the aclu. and the latest version is even more liberal than that.
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i'm just going to mention, madam president, a few of the mandates in this bill. house bill number 1 would force every state -- force every state to give the vote to convicted felons. not a state choice. a federal mandate. one group of democrats even tried to vote, to give the vote to felons who were still in prison right now, and that amendment failed. house bill number 1 would force every state to allow same-day voter registration, online voter registration, and even automatic voter registration. automatic voter registration? voter registration is something somebody should have to do, register to vote. if the bill became law, you would be registered to vote automatically without even knowing it. and when the states automatically register you, you're not allowed to find out how they got your information. can't tell you. in effect, voter registration would be a thing of the past.
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the thing we all did as young people -- register to vote -- thing of the pass. house bill number 1 forces states to count provisional ballots statewide. so if you vote democrat in one district and if you're from another district, they'll count it as a vote for the democrat in your district. mistakes like this shouldn't happen, let alone should your vote be able to be changed from the vote you actually cast. the bill also doubles down on mail-in voting. the problems with that i think people would agree are obvious. amazon -- and many of us shop on amazon if not everyone -- amazon tried to restrict mail-in voting for a union election at one of its facilities. that's not because amazon has conservative leadership. it's because they say it is harder to secure mail-in voting than it is to secure in-person voting. if you want an accurate vote,
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in-person voting is more accurate. the reason mail-in voting was expanded last year was because of the pandemic. now democrats want to carve it into stone forever. h.r. 1 would also take government funding and give it to political campaigns. the american people have some thoughts on that. the bill actually has a six to one match for campaign donations under $200. so if you donate $100 to your favorite candidate, the federal government would take taxpayer dollars and give an additional $600 of taxpayer-money to that candidate who just got a $100 check. l hardworking people would pay their taxes knowing that their hard-earned dollars are going to to go fund political activity, even activity they don't necessarily agree with. like so many liberal government programs, this is a system that
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can easily be defrauded. we see that now with the coronavirus bill as well. democrats know that they would still get their big corporate donations in new york and in san francisco, but now they'd get an added bonus six to one match from taxpayers. h.r. 1 would also give government-funded vouchers for people to donate to political campaigns. political campaigns do not need taxpayer subsidies. people can decide how they want to spend their own money. the government shouldn't be redirecting it toward a party in power. democrats complain about money in politics all of the time. the solution seen in house bill number 1 apparently is more money in politics as long as it's the taxpayer money. h.r. 1 ends the equal balance between the republican and democrats on the federal election commission.
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ends it. democrats want to politicize the commission that enforces our election laws. they want to make it a partisan organization. it's just another idea that would make it easier to commit fraud. h.r. 1 doesn't just politicize the federal election commission, it politicizes the internal revenue service, the i.r.s. democrats want to break down the guardrails that currently keep the i.r.s. out of politics. h.r. 1 gets rid of any of the limits on the i.r.s. when giving tax exemptions to nonprofits. now think about this. remember the scandal that the i.r.s., under the obama-biden administration, the scandal headlines, people well aware, h.r. 1 enshrines that into law. h.r. 1 gives a big stamp of approval to lois lerner and her
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behavior and the way she worked the i.r.s. every democrat who votes for the bill is saying that they will endorse what happened to the i.r.s. under president obama. and there's more, a lot more. the bill goes on and on. it's 800 pages. hard to believe too many democrats have actually read it. the bottom line is this, h.r. 1 would not reform our elections. it would deform our elections, change them dramatically. h.r. 1 makes our elections harder to secure, easier to defraud and casts doubt on every election in the future. that's the last thing that we need in this country, madam president. this is no time to sow doubt about our elections. people want confidence in the elections. that's why i join with senator scott of florida and senator hyde-smith and senator lummis to introduce a better proposal. our bill would make elections safe and secure and fair. it would give people more confidence in our elections. our bill says no automatic
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registration. the house bill repeals all voter i.d. laws. our bill says if you want to register to vote, let's make sure you're a citizen. we need to make sure of your identification. let's make sure you have a social security number. those are the sorts of of things to provide integrity in the election process. under our bill, states can't just send out ballots in the mail based on old information. and that happened all around the country this year. you can still vote by mail. you jucht need to -- just need to request a ballot so your information is up to date. that's the way we've done it in wyoming. we sent out requests to say if you'd like a ballot, apply for your absentee ballot and people did. there was no question about the integrity of that system. it's in a number of states where ballots were mailed out based on old information, without a request by a voter for that ballot that led to so many
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concerns about abuse and fraud. our bill bans vote harvesting. it means you can't drop off somebody else's ballot. you want to make sure that the collection boxes that they have need to be monitored. let's see you turn in your ballot. turn in your ballot to a ballot box, that ought to be monitored. when votes are being counted our bill makes sure that both sides are watching. our bill prohibits delays or pauses in ballot counting. we require an audit of ballot counting system within 30 days after the election. these are basic, commonsense measures to protect against fraud and error. you want it to be accurate, you want it to be fair. so the differences between our bill and the house 800-page bill could not be more clear. the republican bill makes it harder to commit fraud. the democrat bill makes it easier to commit fraud.
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the republican bill costs almost nothing. the democrat bill costs billions. the republican bill strengthens the protections of our elections. the democrat bill weakens those protections and even gets rid of some of them. this shouldn't be a partisan issue. we should all be against voter fraud. we should make it as hard to commit fraud as we possibly can. so i urge my colleagues to join me with senators scott and lummis and hyde-smith. let us stand for integrity of our elections. let us give every american citizen confidence and peace of mind that our system works. thank you, madam president. i yield the floor. a senator: madam president.
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the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cornyn: madam president, this saturday will mark one year since congress passed our first response to the covid-19 virus. that legislation, you'll recall, received overwhelming support. it passed by a vote of 96-1 here in the senate, and 415-2 in the house. and we know that was not just a one-off each of the five pandemic relief bills that were signed into law last year received overwhelming bipartisan support. that's not to say that everybody was in perfect agreement about the size and shape of the bills. we had more than our fair share of disagreements along the way. but both sides of the aisle understood the most pressing challenges facing our country and the types of support that were needed to sustain that fight both when it came to
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public health and when it came to the economic fallout and recession that resulted. resources for hospitals and health care workers, support for the hardest-hit families, assistance for small businesses and, of course, the development, manufacturing, and distribution of vaccines. not only did we agree on what should be in the bills, we actually also agreed on what should not be in the bills. we were all guided, i believe, by an understanding that the focus should remain on covid-19. pandemic relief bills were no place to inject unrelated or partisan preferences. but now that our democratic friends control the house and the senate and the white house, they've tossed that principle in the trash.
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democrats have drafted their so-called covid-19 relief bill without the input, the ideas, or support of a single republican. now that's not because folks on this side of the aisle were unwilling. as i remember, there were ten republicans, senators who met with president biden at the white house and offered a $600 billion alternative that would enjoy broad bipartisan support. this partisan legislation was a choice, not a necessity. a choice, a conscious choice. last year the house majority whip referred to this crisis as a tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision. that was mr. clyburn. democrats knew that a bipartisan bill would limit the scope of discussions to policies that were actually relevant to the
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pandemic. so rather than maintain that relevance to the pandemic, they chose to go it alone. this opportunity to restructure, as mr. it clyburn said, has been months in the making. and now that democrats have the numbers they need to make the law without the support of anybody but their own party, they've tacked on an entire liberal wish list and tried to call it covid-19 relief. but nobody believes it. or should believe it. these are some of the things that are in the so-called covid-19 relief bill. $1.9 trillion when hundreds of billions of dollars of money that we appropriated just in december haven't even been spent yet. but here's what is in the trojan horse otherwise known as the
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democrats' covid-19 relief bill. funding for climate justice. at a time when many americans are asking when can i get the vaccine, how long until my children can safely return to school, our democratic colleagues are pushing funding to support president biden's unilateral climate executive orders. and then there is the funding, the backdoor funding for planned parenthood that's responsible for the most abortions of any other organization in america. now, that's a personal choice for people to make. but asking taxpayers to fund planned parenthood so it can perform more abortions is simply irrelevant to covid-19 relief. it's exploiting another emergency for special interest purposes. this bill expands the criteria
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for paycheck protection program, one of the most successful parts of the cares act that we passed last march. it was designed specifically to keep small businesses afloat. but now planned parenthood can take advantage of the funding, something they were precluded from doing under bipartisan agreement previously. and there is another big political ally for our democratic friends who would be newly eligible for these small business loans, the labor unions. so now labor unions can apply for and receive money that it was otherwise directed, previously directed toward mom and pop businesses so they could keep their doors open so they could keep their employees on the payroll. but now it includes labor unions. many of the labor unions pension
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plans in particular have been in dire financial straits for years, long before covid-19 even existed. up until now, our democratic colleagues have not been able to find a way to bail out these mismanaged pension funds. as you can imagine, using taxpayer dollars to cover the mistakes of union bosses is incredibly unpopular, and that's because it's wrong. but the authors of this bill have found a couple of workarounds which they have tucked into this pandemic -- so-called pandemic relief bill. in addition to making labor unions eligible for the paycheck protection loans, the covid-19 relief bill also creates a taxpayer fund to bail out underfunded union pension funds. that's not to help the public generally. that's to help labor union members, which is certainly
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their issue. i understand why it's important, but i don't understand why my taxpayers in texas should have to bail out unfunded labor pension funds in other states. union bosses who have mismanaged these funds and made bad choices will be rewarded with a taxpayer-funded check. while there are a range of provisions to line the pockets of our friends on the other side of the aisle across the country, the authors of this bill also tried to sneak in more localized fixes, two of which have already been dropped from this bill. in one of the most audacious examples of tone-deaf washington politics, one of these was an underground rail system in the speaker's home state of california. an underground rail system. that has nothing to do with covid-19.
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the bay area rapid transit expension has been in the works for years, and californians have raised concerns over the rising costs. in 2018, it was projected to cost nearly $4.7 billion. and that estimate has already jumped to $6.9 billion from $4.7 billion. despite the fact that this rail system has absolutely nothing to do with the pandemic and would serve only the people of one of the wealthiest areas in the country, our democratic friends provided more than $100 million for this project in their so-called covid-19 relief bill. well, fortunately, not any thanks to our democratic friends who wrote the bill, this completely unrelated project has now been removed from the bill because it violates senate
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rules. you're not supposed to be able to appropriate money and authorize transportation projects in a budget reconciliation bill. that's why it's gone. not because our democratic friends were embarrassed or had second thoughts after it was pointed out to them the hypocrisy of including that in the bill, but because it violates the senate rules. another portion of the bill that would have provided money for a bridge from new york to canada. let me think for a minute. which senator would have stuck money for a bridge from new york to canada in the bill? well, there's two senators, one of whom is the majority leader, from the state of new york. well, that's already been -- that has now been struck by our colleagues because it received
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so much blowback. it was such an embarrassing, irresponsible money grab that it's no longer in the bill. but we'll see if this trend continues in more of the completely -- and more of the completely unrelated partisan projects are eliminated because the long list of unnecessary spending does not end there. this legislation also establishes a bureaucrat bailout, an exclusive paid leave fund just for federal employees. if their kids aren't in school full time because of the pandemic, these employees could take home up to $1,400 a week in paid leave. that's roughly equivalent to $70,000 a year, all to stay home and not work. and these benefits would last for months. federal employees could take home up to $600 of paid leave
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until september 30. even though president biden said every adult who wants to get vaccinated will get vaccinated by the end of may. this benefit, this ridiculous money grab would last until the end of september, long after people had gained antibodies and immunity from covid-19 as a result of having been vaccinated. across the country, only about 35% of school districts have returned to fully in-person instruction. if the parents of children at the other 65% of school districts happen to work for the federal government, they can claim these benefits. even if a school offers in-person instruction but maintains the option to learn virtually, the parent can still get paid to stay home and not perform any work.
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well, parents in my state that don't work for the federal government aren't receiving these same benefits. this is clearly cherry picking to benefit federal employees. to pay them not to work. i respect the work that federal employees do, i respect the work that all government employees do, but to give them preferential treatment in the midst of this pandemic by paying them not to work and using tax dollars from other states and other places that don't enjoy that benefit is simply grossly unfair. over the last year, countless numbers of parents have balanced the impossible. work and remote learning for their children. it's been hard, i understand that.
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many parents have turned their kitchen tables into make-shift offices and classroom spaces until their children were able to physically return to work -- to school, excuse me. today, less than 7% of the school districts in texas are fully remote. 7% are fully remote. and two-thirds are fully in person in my state. they have found a way to safely return to the classroom. there's no reason why the texans who have made that tough juggling act, working and learning remotely, should now have to pay federal employees who have not had to make that tough choice. madam president, simply false advertising to call this a covid-19 relief bill. it's deceptive and outrageously so. only $160 billion, 8% of the
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total cost, is directly related to combating covid-19. 8%. the rest of the bill, as i have tried to point out, is a variety of -- it's a grab bag, really, of partisan priorities, wasteful spending, and counterproductive policy. what's worse, this restructuring, according to mr. clyburn's language, to fit the vision of the democratic party, will cost taxpayers nearly $2 trillion. that's on top of the $4 trillion we have already spent last year. $2 trillion more. well, somebody's going to have to pay that money back, and i fear it will not be us, because we will be long gone. it will be our children and grandchildren, and at this rate of reckless spending, our great grandchildren will have to be the ones to pay the money back.
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this bill is not the answer to the real challenges that face our country posed by the pandemic. we have shown our willingness to work together in a bipartisan way to enthusiastically support the need to provide real relief both from the public health consequences and the economic fallout associated with the virus. but this bill doesn't even attempt to do that. fortunately, as a result of the work we did last year, including last december, -- and by the way, only about 20% of the money that we have appropriated just a few weeks ago, actually a couple of months ago now in december has actually been spent. only about 20% has been spent. and here we are being asked to appropriate $1.9 trillion more. but the good news is the money we spent last year is having real results. the money we invested in treatments and research and
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development of vaccines and now the distribution of vaccines, it's actually making a real difference. we're vaccinating roughly three million people a day in america. more than 70 million people have had shots in arms, and we're doing our best to try to get it in people's arms as fast as we safely can. president biden said we'll get that job done by the end of may. that's wonderful news. the other wonderful news is that unemployment rates are going down, and state revenue is going back up. school districts across the country have safely resumed in-person learning. one in five adults in america have now received a dose of the vaccine, and a third vaccine has now been approved, so that number will climb faster and faster and faster. every day, we're moving closer to the light at the end of the tunnel. now is not the time to squander
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the goodwill and trust that the american people have had in us to be good stewards of the public health and our economy by engaging in this sort of embarrassing partisan exercise. madam president, i yield the floor. i would note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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a senator: madam president. the presiding officer: the senior senator from pennsylvania. mr. casey: thank you, madam president. i would ask consent to vitiate the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. casey: thank you very much. i wanted to speak in particular terms about the american rescue
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plan and in particular about the provision of home and community-based services. we know that when we -- when we speak of these kinds of services, we're talking about services that benefit seniors across the country as well as americans with disabilities. we're also concerned as well for the heroic frontline workers who provide those services. most of whom, virtually all of whom have been underpaid and frankly underappreciated for far too long. let me start with the provision of these home and community-based services in terms of the people that are benefiting from these services. right now about four million americans receive home care and home health services in their
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own homes or apartments. receiving these services at home reduces the likelihood that that older american will be infected by the virus. serving and supporting older adults and people with disabilities reduces pressure on nursing homes and other congregate settings. we know that these kind of services, the home and community-based services make sure that seniors and people with disabilities have a chance to continue to live where they want to live as opposed to living in a congregate setting. in many cases that means that they'll have more contact with their families, reducing the loneliness and social isolation that can be damaging to their mental health. so this american rescue plan includes temporary federal funding to states, increase medicaid and community-based
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services. if the bill would pass, an additional $89.3 -- $9.3 billion would be available to states to make sure workers who provide the services have the protection and resources they need to provide the care, to provide the services. 200 organizations from around the country wrote to congress in support of these new dollars. for months , sciu, one of the great unions across the country representing health care workers, advocacy for older adults like aarp and others, have rallied around the need for this funding. this funding can be used to increase wages for direct-service providers, the workers. it can be used to secure additional personal protective equipment and testing supplies for workers and those that they support. home and community-based funds can loss be used to help people transition from congregate settings back to their homes. it can also be used to provide
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services for the 800,000 americans waiting for this kind of help. for example, ira hall from the southwestern corner of our state next to pittsburgh, in her county, ira will continue to receive services, and he would receive that service from his direct-service worker, ray williams. i was able to visit both of these individuals last may during a virtual home visit. home and community-based services make it possible for ira, who has a developmental disability, to live in his own apartment. ray, who is his direct-service worker, helps ira plan his day and helps him throughout his workday and helps him find the resources he needs to meet his goals. during the pandemic, ray's support made it possible for ira
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to remain in his home, to be safe from contracting the virus. the services ray provides also helps ira maintain his physical and mental health. we know that the american rescue plan makes it possible for services like those ira receives and ray provides. it'll also mean the agencies providing these services will continue to operate and provide essential home- and community-based services throughout the public health crisis. passage of the bill would be a down payment on securing the strong and comprehensive home- and community-based services infrastructure, but it is only a down payment. this pandemic has revealed a fragile home care and home health system. these funds should be the first step in creating home- and community-based services infrastructure that can serve seniors and all people with disabilities who want to live in their own homes and remain in their communities with their families, friends, and
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neighbors. with the passage of this american rescue plan, we'll be able to address the immediate pandemic needs of older acetyl h. dults older adults r let's hope this starts the passage to a robust comprehensive health care and home health network in every state for every senior and every american with a disability. madam president, i would yield the floor. mr. portman: madam president? the presiding officer: the junior nor from ohio. mr. portman: madam president, i have worked with my colleague from pennsylvania on some of these home care options, and i think it's a very positive thing. in fact, it savings a the although of cost for the system -- it saves a lot of cost for the system, but the question is, what's is doing in a covid relief bill? having been involved on five different covid relief packages over the last year, i am just so discouraged that we can't sit
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down as republicans and democrats alike and work out a targeted, focused bill on covid. and, by the way, then move on to other things, including health care reform and issues that have traditionally been bipartisan, like infrastructure, retirement security, and dealing with china and supply chain issues. but this is not the way to start. we are looking at a $1.9 trillion package, the second largest appropriation every written by congress -- the first one went through last year -- and no input, virtually no input from anybody on our side of the aisle because the administration decided they didn't want it; they warranted to jam this thing -- they wanted to jam this thing through without our participation. and it is too bad because they'll end up with a target that is not going to be as focused and targeted, and it is getting off on the wrong foot. and it's really the opposite. this process is really the opposite of what president biden
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has talked about. he talked about it in his campaign. he won a campaign, including his primarily, saying he wanted to work across the aisle. he wanted to change the tone in washington. that was pretty brave of him to say, really. and then in his inaugural address he did the same thing, didn't he? he talked about the need for unity. talked about wanting to get people together and work with republicans and democrats alike and kind of get back to that. this is exactly the opposite of that. i just don't get it it. i have to tell you, i'm mystified why they would want to start off this way. i was one of the ten republicans who went down to the white house to meet with president biden about this a few weeks ago, and we offered our own proposal and said we'd like to work with you and negotiate with you, and you know, there has been no interest, to be honest. and i wish it weren't the case. nd 4 trillion has already been allocated to the covid-19 issue. and it was needed. it's a crisis. it still is. it's not over yet. although things are getting a lot perfect both in terms of the -- although things are getting a lot better, both in terms of the
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health care crisis and the economy. but we did that five different times in a bipartisan way. so we know we can do it. it's hard for us to do it on other issues, let's face it, like taxes and even health care. but it is not with regard to covid-19 can at least it hasn't been until now. the most recent $900 billion covid relief package passed at the end of december by a 92-6 vote. 92-. i came out to the floor to give speeches on this senate floor 20 times in the months prior to that legislation finally be passed urging congress to come out of our partisan corners, democrats and republicans alike, and to come up with a covid relief package, because i saw so much middle ground. and we found it i about the end of the december much i was part of the group of five democrats and five republicans who sat down over a month-long period or so, and we actually wrote a bill, the 908 coalition we called ourselves, the basis nor
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that $900 billion legislation that was passed. so we can do it. and yet we are looking here at an entirely different process and unfortunately a product that is not targeted, not focused. it is interesting to note that of the $900 billion that we appropriated just a couple of months ago at the end of the year, more than half of that, we're told, has not been spent yet. so while we're starting a $1.9 trillion new spending project, about half of what we just did has yet to be spent. so how do we know how much is needed? it's very hard to know. i will say that it's troubling to me that this bill is loaded up with provisions that don't relate to addressing the covid-19 pandemic because we should be targeted and focused like a laser on that issue and not on other things. in fact, when you look at the health care part of this shall did and most people think, okay, what would you do with a covid-19 bill?
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you'd focused on the coronavirus, on the testing, the tracing. you'd focused on the vaccine development and distribution. you'd focus on the health care side, including health care employers. unfortunately that's a very small part of the funding of this bill. it's $160 billion out of $1.9 trillion, so let's than 10%. the alternative we offered to president biden? $160 billion. we totally believe that that part of the bill and we should put all of that in there, particularly with regard to the vaccines. so it's frustrating because not only is the process not what we have done in the past and is best for this country, but also the substance of this bill is just not targeted on covid-19. how do i tell hardworking families in my state of ohio that there is a provision in the bill that asks mayors to spend more -- medicare to spend more money in new jersey and rhode island but not ohio and other states? how do i say that we set aside
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money for the arts. we can have that debate on the arts, but it has nothing to do with covid-19. we have the highest deficit as a share of g.d.p. since world war ii. you know, should we be spending that kind of motion to proceed on things that don't -- that kind of money on things that don't relate to covid-19? there are also proposals that are directed at important issues but based on what sneaded to respond to the -- on what is needed to pre-spond to the current challenges is unnecessary. we've reached a point in this pandemic where the c.d.c. has said that schools can start to open safely with the right measures in place. thanks goodness. we want get our kids about a being to school. that should be a cause for celebration. but the plan here, the $1.9 trillion, doesn't reflect those findings. as of now, the $113 billion we've appropriated, only $15 billion has been spent. so roughly $100 billion is left over from last year with regard
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to schools. if we're already opening classes safely with that amount, why does this $1.9 trillion plan instead call for an additional $130 billion in our schools when most will not be spent in this calendar year? nobody thinks that next year at this time we're going to have the crisis we have now. yet the $130 billion of new money will not be spent until the end of 2028. by the way, the nonpartisan congressional budget office estimates that about half of the funds in the entire proposal won't even be spent in this calendar year. that's their analysis -- objective, nonpartisan. no one expects again that we'll be in this crisis at that time. so it doesn't seem to make sense to me. there are other provisions that seem to take solutions we've come up with in the past package and make them worse. unemployment insurance is one. republicans and democrats alike
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believe -- after finally reaching an agreement on expanded unemployment insurancers one that got people the help they need without creating a disincentive to work, democrats want to jam through another u.i. proposal that increases the $300 per week that we just agreed to in december to $400 a week. now, again, that's in the context of the health care crisis getting better and the economy getting better and the unemployment numbers going down, that we're going to put more into unemployment insurance. that creates a problem because it will mean if you go up to $400 a week, that more than half of the weeks on unemployment insurance will be earning more on unemployment than they would staying employed. we want to get people back to work. that's what we all should want, at least. so why would you do that? we shouldn't want that. it's going to result in fewer people getting to work, as unemployment continues to go down, as the vaccines are more widely available. that's the opposite of what we should the want. at the same time a new provision
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in this bill would allow employees who are federal employees to take 600 hours of taxpayer-funded emergency relief this fiscal year. to put that in perspective, 600 hours is about half of the total number of working hours remaining in this fiscal year. there are plenty of problems with the way this is written. a federal employee with children in school will be eligible for this leave program as long as the school is offering a remote learning option, even if the kids are going to the classroom every day for in-person learning. federal employees would also be eligible for this leave if they are feeling unwell, even if they don't have covid-19 and with no oversight, no doctor's note, no supervisory approval. this is far beyond the responsible bipartisan family leave proposal we did include because we should have in the first -- families first coronavirus act which offered 80 hours of sick leave, one-seventh of that proposed in this new proposal and which aployed --
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and which applied to private and public sector employees. when none of us knew how long we'd be faced with the crisis, we decided on a bipartisan basis that 80 hours was sufficient. but we're actually turning the tide. our numbers are going down and we have a much better understanding. so why does this make sense? furthermore, federal jobs are pretty secure. why should taxpayers pay for federal employees to get 600 hours of leave when they're suffering more job losses than the public sector. it's also disappointing this bill -- in this bill that all of us are expected to vote on because the end result is so different than the last five. the last five times we put it together in a bipartisan basis. the process has been frustrating, and i know many
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colleagues who are part of the group of five republicans and five democrats agree with that. we're in effect for the sake of expediency and partisan victory forgetting about thoughtful policy and bipartisanship. we have to show that we have enough republicans to work with democrats to get things done. i understand that. that's why ten of us went down to the white house, because along with 50 democrats, that would be 60, which is the magic number needed. but there are more than ten republicans who want to work with democrats on this, as there have been every time we've taken this up over the past year. we've proposed this $618 billion counterproposal that shares lot of common ground with the biden plan. not $1.9 trillion but $618 billion. again, we take care of all the health care response to the virus that's in the biden plan. we have a similar approach on stimulus checks. we make it a little more targeted. we don't waste the money for schools, we focus on getting kids back to school. the main difference is we take a
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more targeted approach to address the most urgent health care and economic needs. we heed the advice of prominent democratic economist larry summers who has said that the biden stimulus not just wasting taxpayer money it risks overheating an already recovering economy leading to higher inflation, hurting middle-class families and threatening long-term growth. but rather than the counter proposal we had last year this time we've been told democrats want to go it alone. we'll keep talking to the president and his people and democrats in congress hoping they will follow through on the campaign message and inaugural promise because that's what we should be doing as a congress not just on this issue but so many other issues as well. we shouldn't be going it alone. reconciliation allowed democrats to take what is essentially a my way or the highway approach to a response package that would be among the most expensive pieces of legislation in our country's history. as a result, dozens of my
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colleagues on both sides of the aisle are being shut out of providing their input on this bill and we're going toking be left -- to be left with a partisan bill that fails to meet the most urgent needs. of all the unrelated spending bills and others are directed toward democrat constituents i would argue this bill has been not just my way or the highway but it's been my way and the highway. the bottom line at the end of the road of this reconciliation process we'll have a bill that underdelivers in many respects and is overpriced. that's sad to me. it didn't have to be this way. we've done it before five times together, made it inclusive, listened to each other, come up with a bipartisan result. let's put a stop to this runaway train that's going to to add to the deficit unnecessarily and put a damper on the pros prospects for bipartisanship promised for this new administration. wanting to heel the wounds is something -- to heal the wounds is something all of us should want. getting to an area where we debate things, work them
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occupant to help the country together -- work them out to help the country together is something all of us should want. i agree what president biden said in his campaign for unity. let's do it. we can work together to get this done. we won't get there if we continue to operate like this. it hurts not just our new president and his hopes for getting things done. it hurts the country and the ability for us to continue to work together to deal with this crisis and get back to a more normal life. i yield back my time. a senator: madam president. the presiding officer: the junior senator from florida. mr. scott: america is in crisis. today the federal debt sits at a staggering $27 trillion and more than $4 trillion in the last year. congress is debating whether to spend another $1.9 trillion raising our debt another $30
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trillion. less than 10% of this massive $1.9 trillion package actually goes directly to covid relief. and just 1% is dedicated to vaccine-related programs. the rest is filled with wasteful liberal priorities. speaker pelosi and leader schumer, bridges and tunnels have no business being included in a covid relief bill. it's shameful. only in washington can people throw these numbers and ideas around without a care for what it means for our future. it's dangerous and it's time to get serious. congress has the responsibility to thoroughly review how every single tax dollar is spent by the federal government and make sure we are spending wisely. sadly, this is rare behavior in washington. congress spends with reckless abandon and rarely considers how today's foolishness will impact our children and grandchildren. and we are seeing president biden and senate democrats continue this dangerous behavior. for them, the obama-era
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thinking of never let a crisis go to waste is alive and well. it estimates show there is nearly $1 trillion enacted in unspent l funding. last month i spoke to the office of management and budget. the response, none. total silence. here's what that means. the senate has no idea how states are spending their allocated funds and we don't know what the actual needs are. it would be completely irresponsible and an abdication of our duty as stewards of american tax dollars if the senate continues to approve further spending without more information. that's why my colleagues and i are introducing a resolution calling on president biden to inform the senate of how much unspent funds are left over from the previous covid spending bills. we want to be very clear, this resolution only asks for information for the president that will help the senate make an informed decision.
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i am proud to be joined today by senator lankford and senator ernst to ask for transparency. it's pretty simple. ever since the pandemic started, i have wanted the federal government to step in and help those who are hurting and have lost their jobs. i completely agree that we need to do more to help families and small small businesses that continue to suffer from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. relief is needed but has to be targeted. we have to consider our debt and do only what is necessary for those in need. i grew up in public housing and watched my parents struggle to find work and make ends meet. i saw my dad's car get repossessed twice. i never want a family to go through what mine did growing up but before another dollar is spent, especially dollars going to liberal initiatives that have nothing to do with covid relief, there needs to be a full and clear accounting of unspent funding. the decisions we make today will have serious impacts on our children and grandchildren. before i continue, madam president, i yield to my colleague from iowa and oklahoma
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and thank them for their effort. i now yield to senator ernst. ms. ernst: thank you to the senator from florida as well and for sharing his personal story and why it's so important that we have transparency on bills like this covid package. over the course of the pandemic, congress has worked together. republicans and democrats, to pass five overwhelmingly bipartisan bills providing covid-19 relief to the american people, and i think we would all agree that that relief was much-needed. now in march we passed the largest stimulus package in american history. and just a few months ago we passed the second-largest. but what the democrats aren't telling you is that much of the
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$900 billion we passed in the most recent relief package and even some of the cares act money has yet to be spent. and, frankly, folks, we don't even know exactly who has spent what money congress has doled out over the last year. i've long said the american taxpayer deserves to know where and how their money is being spent. bottom line, we need transparency and to know what has and has not been spent so far. this commonsense effort will help us get this information. until we have those details, we should not continue throwing money to washington
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bureaucrats, and we certainly should not support this partisan $1.9 trillion package that includes many items that are completely unrelated to covid-19. i agree with my colleagues that there is more that we can do to help expedite the vaccine distribution and promote access to child care so our parents can return to work. but, folks, this is not monopoly money. this is real money. we have a moral obligation to our future generations to spend responsibly. iowans and all americans deserve transparency before we add trillions of dollars to their
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tab. and with that, i will yield to the senator from oklahoma. ing. mr. lankford: madam president. the presiding officer: the junior senator from oklahoma. mr. lankford: thank you. senator scott, senator ernst and i are not trying to ask for something that the american people aren't already asking for as well. and quite frankly, the senate and this white house haven't already said they want to be able to do. basic transparency, efficient spending. it is wednesday afternoon right now. we're about to take up a bill for, we think, $1.9 trillion. and i say we think because none of us have seen the text of this bill yet. not one of us on either side of the aisle. and the debate was supposed to begin on it today, but none of us have seen the text for this. supposedly we're supposed to start voting on it tomorrow night, though no one has seen
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the text of the bill yet. in addition to that, last year this congress on a bipartisan basis passed five covid relief bills totaling over $4 trillion. every dollar of that $4 trillion was borrowed. every dollar. none of that was budgeted. but there was bipartisan agreement as we walked through the process to determine this is an emergency, this is a global pandemic. to help stabilize our economy from going p into free fall we have to do some very difficult things. but in the middle of all that we also said we don't need to borrow a dollar more than what we need to borrow. let's borrow what we need to but not more than we need to. interestingly enough, of the five bills and $4 trillion that was allocated for covid last year, only $3 trillion of that $4 trillion has actually been spent yet. we still have over $1 trillion
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unspent of the money from last year. but before that last trillion, which imagine just how big that really is. to give you an example, every single agency in the federal government, the total budget for a year is $1 trillion. so this ,quote-unquote, little $1 trillion that's left would cover the total budget for every agency in the federal budget for all of next year. this $1 trillion still unspent, the biden administration and my democratic colleagues are saying we want an additional $2 trillion. basically, near the end of the pandemic they want a bill as large as what we had the very first month of the pandemic a year ago, when we knew we were in economic free fall. all we're asking is a couple of things. one is can we read the bill. number two, can we get real numbers of what is unspent, and anything that is unspent that we
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can reallocate for something in the future. let me give you an example. the best i can tell, we have about $6 billion still left in the vaccine line item left over from last year. $6 billion just for vaccine, and that's vaccine purchases. there's another $17 billion left over just for all the distribution process for vaccines. that's a lot of money. just yesterday president biden announced we will have all the vaccines available for every adult in america by the end of may. it's paid for, set aside, ready to go. yet this bill that i understand is coming tomorrow, maybe later today, has tens of billions of dollars more in vaccine money. why is there tens of billions of dollars more in vaccine money when just yesterday the president announced we have all the purchases done all the way through towards the end of may
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to vaccinate every adult in america, and there's billions of dollars still left over in the two vaccine accounts even after that. why are we asking? where is that money going? that shouldn't be an unreasonable question. that should be a question everybody should ask. why are we asking for tens of billions of dollars more in vaccines when we've already purchased vaccines. is this foreign aid vaccines? we don't know. there's $170 billion being requested for education expenses. all of us want to take care of education. but $170 billion is twice as much as what the american people spend on education in a year. total education budget is $67 billion for the entire year for all of the federal education budget. $67 billion. this is very close to three times what the annual budget is for all of spending just for
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covid. and, by the way, still unspent in the education amount from last year's budget, we understand is about $68 billion. so there's still $68 billion unallocated to education entities that haven't even been touched yet. listen, before everybody jumps up and says you republicans are being a blockade, can we just ask our question -- how much money is unspent and what is the money going towards that we're asking for? that shouldn't be an unreasonable question. that should be a reasonable question. we're not trying to be obstructionists. we're just trying to get information. and quite frankly, when our team calls over to the white house and says can you give us the details of what's unspent in this amount, i know it's early in their presidency and they're still getting organized, but most of the time their answer is we'll get back to you, and they never do. we need to know what's still left over of this $1 trillion that's already been allocated before we allocate another $2
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trillion, knowing every single dollar of that is borrowed from china or somewhere else. this is a real issue. we should resolve this before we move to spending another $2 trillion. and i thank very much senator scott for his leadership in this area in asking some very basic questions. mr. scott: madam president. the presiding officer: the junior senator from florida. mr. scott: i want to thank senator lankford and senator ernst. passing this resolution will show the american people that congress can be both responsive to the needs of american families and small businesses hurt by this pandemic while also remaining fully accountable for the proper stewardship of tax dollars. this is about basic transparency and getting the facts. in this resolution passes and the administration shares the information i have requested, it will go a long way in helping
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congress craft a targeted bill that directly addresses the real needs of our nation today. i ask for unanimous consent that the senate proceed to the consideration of senate resolution 88, submitted earlier today. i further ask that the resolution be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to, and that the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: is there objection? a senator: madam president, i reserve the right to object. the presiding officer: the senator from michigan. mr. peters: madam president, i certainly appreciate the senator from florida's interest in oversight of the coronavirus emergency relief funds. this funding has been and continues to be critical to the american people throughout the pandemic. i also appreciate the senator's support for the creation of the pandemic response accountability committee when he voted for the cares act. this was a provision that i authored to ensure that we would have strong oversight of coronavirus relief dollars.
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i agree wholeheartedly that we must be faithful stewards of taxpayer money. that's why the cares act directed the government accountability office, our congressional watchdog, to oversee coronavirus spending. we are fortunate to receive consistent, detailed reporting and recommendations on these issues. the senator's resolution, however, will not strengthen these oversight mechanisms, nor will it deliver any form of relief to families who are hurting and small businesses that are struggling. if the senator from florida wants to update the current status of funding from previous coronavirus relief bills, i'm happy to provide one to him. let's first look at the first coronavirus relief measures, all of which were passed in march and april of last year. to date, approximately 93% of those funds have been obligated and 88% have been outlaid.
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after accounting for benefits that are, by design, continuing to be paid up over time, there is less than $100 billion of uncommitted funds left. and approximately half of that is in provider relief funds for struggling medical providers who need -- their needs continue to be extremely high. for the legislation signed into law on december 27, 2020, more than half of this funding has already been committed. but if we set aside expanded unemployment benefits which expire next month, small business relief and the tax credit portion of the economic impact payments which will be disbursed over time, less than 12% of the funding from december remains unobligated. we know the status of funds from past covid relief bills. this information is not being kept secret in any way. in addition to reports from the pandemic response accountability
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committee and the government accountability office, we have a monthly s.f. 133 report from the office of management and budget. coronavirus-related spending is also publicly tracked, publicly tracked on both usa spending.gov and on the website of the pandemic responsibility accountability committee. we don't need more reports right now. we need action. we have been fighting a public health and economic crisis, neither of which will magically disappear without additional federal action. we can't wait until more small businesses close or hospitals run into the red. we know how badly americans are hurting, and they are hurting right now. we are a full year into this pandemic that has taken the lives of over 515,000 americans. and this pandemic is not over. it's continuing to ravage communities all across our nation. let's look at where we are right now. upwards of 2,000 americans are
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dying each and every day. daily cases are the same levels we saw during the last surge in july, with over 50,000 americans testing positive for covid-19 every day. we're also facing the new threat of emerging variants like the u.k. and south african strains, which unfortunately could lead to even more cases. the economic toll continues to go on. millions of americans remain out of work. in january, the unemployment rate was nearly double that from pre-pandemic levels. and unemployment claims are still more than double pre-pandemic levels. we all have friends, family members, and neighbors who are hurting right now. small businesses have had to slash their hours, cutting their own bottom line and the employee's paychecks. we need to help families by
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providing rental assistance, stimulus, and unemployment benefits. we need to help kids by supporting our schools so we can get back to in-person learning. we need to invest in the public health infrastructure necessary to combat this virus by increasing testing capacity, implementing vaccine education campaigns, and tracking and containing the new covid variants that we see springing up. we're starting to see a glimpse of light at the end of this very long, far too long tunnel, but we must keep moving forward. the american rescue plan will finally allow us to control the virus, improve the lives of all americans, and get us out of this crisis. we should not be wasting time on partisan resolutions that will neither deliver relief nor meaningfully improve oversight of covid relief efforts. we must come together and provide the relief that families and small business all across our country so desperately need.
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madam president, i object. mr. scott: madam president. i'm extremely disappointed in my colleague's decision to block this resolution. my colleagues and i wouldn't be doing this resolution if we were receiving the information that my colleague said we are receiving. this has nothing to do with whether we want republican -- senate republicans want to provide relief. we want to provide relief. we wanted to do it in a targeted manner, and we want to make sure we don't waste taxpayer dollars. this objection just blocked the senate from requesting basic information that will help us do our basic job. senate democrats just objected to transparency. it means they are against giving us the facts, against ensuring accountability, and against giving targeted help to the right people. my colleague has chosen to prevent the senate from receiving information that is pertinent to our own ongoing negotiations. senate republicans believe in relief of those hurt by
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covid-19. we want to help our small businesses. we want to help those who have lost their jobs. we want to make sure families are able to survive this crisis and come out on the other side with their livelihood. this shows senate democrats are not actually interested in finding a bipartisan solution to our nation's problems. instead they want to blindly spend money on provisions completely unrelated to covid, as if there are no consequences to wracking up more debt and spending beyond our means. i'm thinking about the kids who were just like me growing up in public housing with parents who were barely scraping by. we need to help those families. in order to do that, we need to better understand where the need is. i am disappointed in my colleague's decision. i hope he reconsiders. i yield the floor.
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mr. lee: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. lee: madam president, the bill before the senate this week is not really about covid relief. it's about politics. before this, covid relief has not been a terribly partisan issue. in fact, we passed five relief bills, each with at least 90 votes. these were overwhelmingly broad-based and bipartisan efforts. so if this were to pass, this would be the first to pass that is highly controversial. why? because in the first place it borrows and spends another
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$1.9 trillion when there is still hundreds of billions of dollars of unspent relief money from past covid-19 relief packages. the new spending authorizes money to go to projects in states and local governments, including many that may not even need it. the fight against the pandemic has, of course, fundamentally changed since the months this plan was first comprised. it is also outdated now as we are here into the month of march, the circumstances have changed and yet the plan remains largely the same as it was and so it feels a little bit to me like we're fighting the last war using the last war's battle plan, leaving us unprepared for the battle actually in front of us. this is a bill that will worsen
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our national debt and weaken our economy in the long run without even doing much to help small businesses and american families in the short term. this is not without consequence. in fact, as the -- the book by dr. reinhart and rogoff, published nearly ten years ago, a book known as this time it's different notes once we get into the cycle, once we get accustomed to spending this much and acquiring this much of a debt-to-g.d.p. ratio, we find ourselves in dire circumstances, circumstances in which it's even more difficult to raise the same revenue based on the same tax structure or even while tweaking that tax structure, it can be very difficult to pull out of the tailspin that could be produced when we start spending in sums this large and
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perpetuating a debt-to-g.d.p. ratio that is, frankly, unsustainable. this $1.9 trillion package has very, very little to doll with covid -- little to do with covid. in fact, 1% of the spending in this bill will go toward accelerating vaccine distribution, just 5% is focused on public health. instead, according to the committee for responsible federal budget, three times as much money will go toward partisan priorities that are, quote, not directly related to the current crisis, close quote. so what are some of the examples of this type of spending? well, we've got $1.5 billion more set aside for amtrak, which is itself already sitting on a billion dollars of unspent
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bailout money. what this has to do with the virus and why the virus somehow justifies giving them an additional $1.5 billion when they are already sitting on a billion dollars of still unspent bailout money is beyond my comprehension. $50 million in funding for environmental justice project, also difficult to connect that up to covid. $200 million for the institute of museum and library services. $135 million for the national endowment for the arts, $135 million for the national endowment of humanities, $86 million and pension bailout for private sector workers. the list goes on and on but you get the idea. you get money that goes to projects as well as a significant amount to state and local governments. we'll get back to that in a moment. when there's as much as
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$63 billion leftover in unspent funds,this money will not necessarily help schools to reopen. $350 billion in aid goes to state and local governments. even though total losses to date have mostly been covered by the $360 billion that congress has already provided in aid for state and local governments over the last year. while there's some disparity among and between the states and how they've responded to the covid pandemic and how they fared as far as their revenue, state and local government revenue has recovered, 21 states saw revenue gains. in fact, in my home state of utah, as well as some other
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states, they are running surpluses. utah's sacrifice and good governance should not go to bail out other states to the tune of $350 billion. i think of hardworking moms and dads in utah, struggling to make ends meet while paying their federal and state taxes. they are told over and over and over again that they've got to be giving more. they are told what they have spent and the time they've allotted, weeks or months out of every year just to pay their federal taxes alone still somehow isn't enough, isn't nearly enough because in addition to the money that they've worked so hard to earn and give to the federal government, there's so much more that has to be spent like $1.5 billion going to amtrak even though it's already sitting on a billion dollars of unspent bailout relief. these same moms and dads
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throughout utah are not pleased when they are made to understand that in addition to bailing out amtrak again, when amtrak is already sitting on this billion dollars in unspent bailout relief money, that they are also going to have to bail out other states. that they are going to have to bail out state and local governments that haven't been managed well as utah's government has. this isn't fair to them. this is a matter of fundamental fairness to them and countless americans. not only in utah, but in every state. some states still have unspent funding that they've gotten from previous covid relief packages. california, alone, has $8 billion in unspent funding, and new york has up to $5 billion. in this bill we're acting like
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states are facing a fiscal catastrophe that is specifically from covid when they are not. at the same time we're acting like the unprecedented magnitude of federal debt is a nonissue. it is not. we've got the situation exactly backwards. now, look, any new relief funding just needs to be targeted and it needs to be temporary and it needs to be directly tied to receive relief -- covid relief. this package is instead about fulfilling the political wish list of one political party over another and has very little, if anything, to do with the pandemic. it's offensive and, yes, it's inappropriate. for one political party, the political party that clings to
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the narrowest of margins of a majority in this body, to push its own political wish list on to an opportunity to provide covid relief for the american people, and it would be equally inappropriate for republicans to use it as an opportunity to push their own wish list. look, we haven't seen this before. we haven't seen anything like this before. we didn't in the past see any of the previous covid relief packages pushed lieu reconciliation. there are were a number of reasons for that, one of which it's wrong, it's not an appropriate use of reconciliation, and another was it wasn't necessary because we made it bipartisan. not just mildly bipartisan with a few straggler votes here and there, but overwhelmingly so. this one is different.
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i'm not opposed to discussing what role government should play in providing actual relief for the pandemic. we can and should have that debate. i welcome it. that is a question that merits its own debate. this bill is not about that. not anything close to that. it's riddled with poor economic reasoning and rank political favoritism. it will only worsen our debt and our economic health in the long run. it doesn't help american small businesses and families in the short run. it doesn't do anything to materially advance the cause of getting our children back to school at a time when they've suffered to greatly, not only academically but socially and in so many other ways. that's where we ought to be focused. this bill comes nowhere close to
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addressing that issue and instead it directs itself in other directions that are not only not helpful but in many cases they are the opposite of that. it's sad, it's disappointing, and on that basis i can't support this bill but would urge my colleagues and figure out ways to make it better. we don't have to do it this way. it doesn't have to be a deeply partisan vote. we can still choose a different path. i, for one, hope we will. thank you, madam president. mr. toomey: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from pennsylvania. mr. toomey: thank you, madam president. the circumstances that we face today on -- in the senate are so disturbing.
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this is really, really unbelievable. i mean there's so much good news out there on the health care front, on the -- on the pandemic front, on the economic front, but what we're going to do in this chamber is absolutely -- absolutely appalling. the members of this chamber came together five times last year and passed overwhelmingly bipartisan bills to deal with this pandemic, to deal with the economic crisis that came from the lockdown that we experienced, five times. about $4 trillion, completely unprecedented in scope, in scale, the nature of it. never imagined before. but we did it. we did it because we needed to and we came together. i think the biggest of the bills passed -- the biggest by far without a single no vote in this chamber. completely bipartisan.
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so president biden gets elected, gives a great speech, great inaugural speech about uniting the country, coming together, we don't have to be divided the way we have been, we can work together and find common ground. so ten republican senators go down to the white house and say, well, mr. president, you would like to do $1.9 trillion, whatever it is, but we think there's a good case for $600 billion. now, i don't happen to agree with those ten republican senators as it happens. i don't think even that is appropriate, but they did. and the reason that's significant is because there were ten of them which just so happens to be exactly the minimum number needed of republican senators to join with the democrats to pass anything they want on a bipartisan basis. so they are handed to him on a silver platter to the president was the opportunity to do a bipartisan bill to figure out where that common ground was.
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the republicans were offering to negotiate from there. this probably could have easily ended at $1.000000000000 or so after weaks before passing a -- weeks before passing a trillion dollars bill. the president could have gotten anything he wanted but president biden didn't want any part of that. you have to ask yourself why is that when he campaigned as the guy who's going to unify america and he had every republican vote he needed sitting in his office asking him to work this out and he said, no, not interested. effectively that's what he said. well, when you look at the bill, it's clear why president biden chose this path. because there's no justification for this bill. there's no medical justification. there's no pandemic justification. there's no economic justification. this isn't about coming together and doing something about a
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crisis. this is about a partisan left-wing wish list. and of course republicans aren't interested in that kind of political gesturing that's going to do economic damage. i'm reminded of the words of rahm emanuel who said you don't want a crisis to go to waste. he must be very proud of our democratic colleagues and president biden because what they've done is taken a crisis that's rapidly receding -- let's be honest -- and they decided this is their chance to make one last mad dash to the door with a staggering amount of money and presumably claim credit for the recovery that's already well under way. the good news is there's a lot of good news, right? we went through one of the most trying times we've been through
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in a very long time in this country. this pandemic was devastating. it was deadly. it was scary. and the economic crisis was very, very real. but now we've got -- over a hundred million doses of vaccines have gone into people's arms. when you figure that we've -- we might very well have a hundred million americans who have had the disease and recovered, we've got -- got to have well over half of the american population has either recovered or been vaccinated. is, therefore, no longer at risk to this disease, not in a -- not at a significant risk. and that's fantastic news. by the way, the vaccine administration is accelerating. and so following that, we are, unsurprisingly, seeing this terrific collapse in the number of new cases. the daily count of new cases of the coronavirus, of covid-19, peaked at around 250,000 new cases in a single day.
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we were running at that pace. by the time we got to the inauguration of president biden, we were down to 185,000. and yesterday it was about 60,000. so less than a quarter of the number of new cases on a daily basis that we were experiencing at the peak and it continues to drop. it's going to continue to decline probably very rapidly as we continue to roll out these vaccines. that's terrific. and there is a sort of parallel recovery of the economy under way. if you go back to april of 2020 when it was at its worst, the unemployment rate was almost 15%. 14.8%. that's a terrible, terrible unemployment rate. as of january of this year, just a few months ago, the unemployment rate was 6.3%. less than half where we were. now, we're not back to the fantastic economy we had a year
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ago, just before this pandemic broke. but we're getting there. and 18 states across the country have unemployment rates below 5%. so we're going to get there. the economy is growing. after a collapse in the second quarter of last year, the third quarter came roaring back. and the fourth quarter grew and congressional budget office thinks that this whole calendar year of 2021, our economy will grow almost 5%. most private economists think more than that. there's a lively debate about whether we'll even reach 6% or 7% or more growth. we were told never again to expect to see 3% but that's how strong this economic recovery is because of the resiliency of the american people, the tremendous ingenuity of the private sector to come up with vaccines that are incredibly effective, several of them, and do it in a
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record time. i mean, a fraction of what was the previous record time. it's amazing. and we played a role in this, too. i think we did. the bipartisan cooperation in congress to pass one bill after another on a huge scale, as i said five bills, the biggest without a single -- i'm not sure any of them had a dissenting vote in the senate. and almost a trillion in december leaving tens of billions of dollars that we've approved that hasn't even been spent yet. the intended beneficiaries have not gotten the money yet. it takes a while to get the money out the door. so given this context, given this history, this is why it's so despiritting to see our democratic colleagues insisting on a bill that has almost nothing to do with covid. that's the truth. it is not about reopening the economy. it's a partisan left-wing
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spending binge. that's what it is. let's take a look at some of the individual items. we've got these so-called stimulus checks. i haven't heard anything more inaptly named. the fact is real personal income in the country is today higher than it was just before the pandemic. disposable real per capita income rows at its -- rose at its highest rate since 1984. personal savings rate hit an all-time record high in 2020. why? because we more than replaced lost income through all of the bills that we passed. so what about that data suggests we need another round of universal payments to people? it's not going to stimulate the economy. the last -- even the last check, 60% of that money went to savings accounts or paying down debt. according to a pen warden study, about 75% of these checks are
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going to go into savings. and why in the world are we sending so many checks to tens of millions of people who never had any lost income. so under this bill, the federal government is going to send out $5,600 to a family of four. $5,600 to a family of four that makes $150,000 a year and never had a dime of income lost. no interruption of income. no loss of income. they're going to get $5,600 and that, by the way, is on top of the $5,800 they already got last year. with no need, no demonstrated problem here. $11,400 of money that we don't have that we're going to send to people who never had a dime of lost income. that's a big chunk of this bill. but it may not be the worst. it may be that the worst is the $350 billion we're going to send to state and local governments
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to bail out the mismanaged blue states and cities and the amazing thing is you can't possibly make the case that they need the bailout. they don't even need it. why do i say that? well, if you look in 2020, the books are closed now. we know what we didn't know early in the year of 2020 -- we're in 2021 now. we know what happened in 2020 and what happened was states and municipalities in the aggregate brought in more revenue in 2020 than they did in 2019 which was a record year. so they've set an all-time new record for tax revenue collected, all-time new record. and that does not include the $500 billion we sent them an anyway. these states are loaded with cash. i don't know what they're going to do with it. there's $60 billion in rainy day
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funds. we heard, oh, my goodness, these states are going have to cut essential services. all the teachers are going to be laid off. the firemen, the police, all done. how is it they've taken in more revenue than they ever half before in their history and we send them another $500 billion. now we're going to send them yet another $350 billion on top of this. how does this make any sense at all? we're going to go out and borrow or print this money so we can send it to a bunch of states, many of them would are sitting on so much cash they're probably going to cut taxes. it's just unbelievable. then there's the obamacare expansion. what does that have to do with covid? this is just a decade-long goal of our democratic colleagues to continue the endless expansion of obamacare. so $45 billion in this bill to pay insurance companies more money to cover people who already have health insurance.
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that's what they're doing. 63% of these new subsidies will go to people who already have health insurance through obamacare. and by the way, it includes -- it includes huge numbers of people that make over $100,000 a year. never miss a chance to make more people dependent on government. it's got policies, big policies that will absolutely slow the economic recovery. so let me be clear. these -- this bill will slow down the economic recovery under way. why do i say that? well, the bill insists on adding $400 a week on top of whatever states are paying in unemployment benefits. well, what does that mean? it means that more than half of everyone who sun -- is unemployed is going to get paid more not to work than they get paid working. who could even think this up? we've had unemployment insurance
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for decades in this country. we have never said let us systematically make slur that people can make more -- sure that people can make more money not working than they can go to, would. i hear colleagues talk a lot about the dignity of work. think there's a lot of dignity in work. what is our message to people about the dignity of work when we say you're worth more to us sitting on the couch than you are at your job. that's what this is. it's a terrible idea. and how do you know for sure that nobody on the other side is even pretending that this is really about the economic recovery? well, you know for sure because the congressional budget office has told us that only a fraction, a small fraction of this money is even going to be spent this year. how long do we think the pandemic is going to be with us as a pandemic? how long do we think we're going to have these lockdowns? we're going to be out of the woods pretty soon here. as i said, half of all americans are already have either been
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vaccinated or recovered from this, but the school numbers are a good illustration. the elementary and secondary education. this bill has $128 billion, $128 billion. $6.5 billion is going to be spent in 2021. the rest gets dribbled out for years and years and years. how long do they think before schools can reopen? oh, and by the way, this bill doesn't require the schools to reopen. you don't even have to reopen. just throw billions and billions and billions of dollars at schools whether or not they're actually having kids in the school. and some of these provisions are so blatantly unrelated to covid or the economy that it's really just hard to even read them with a straight face. $86 billion to bail out multiemployer pension plans without any reform whatsoever. now, look, we all know we have a
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multiemployer pension problem in this country and there's been a lot of discussion about what do you do about these grossly underfunded pension plans and how do you fix this? and the conversation has always been what kind of reforms come with what kind of cash so that these -- these errors of the past are corrected? there's no reforms here, none, nothing, just a big pile of cash. it's a clear message that you don't have to fix anything. do you haven't to reform the flaws of these programs that got us here. and by the way, it's the same message to the insolvent public pension plans of most of the major cities in many states. don't worry. look what congress will do if the democrats have their way. they'll just send you so much cash, you don't have to worry about the insolvency you're dealing with. what a terrible message. $270 million for the national
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endowment for the arts and humanities. oh, that's covid related. thank goodness that's there. $91 million for outreach to student loan borrowers. i don't even know what that means. $50 million for environmental justice grants. i have no idea what that means. but this one is really rich. there's about $4 billion for socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. i say about $4 billion because it says such sums as may be necessary. and here's what the money is for. it's going to pay off 120% of the debt of these farmers and ranchers. 120% of the borrowings. so what in the world are the requirements to have 120% of your debt paid off? well, you actually have to have debt. okay. so you have to have borrowed money from the usda farm loan.
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tens of billions of dollars out there. they lend a lot of money. and you have to be a member of one of the following groups. african american, asian, hispanic, pacific islanders, refugees, or immigrants. as long as you're in one of those categories of racial and ethnic groups, then the taxpayer is going to pay off to%, not the whole loan, more than the whole loan -- 120%. and the thing that's so disturbing about this is that the essential criteria is your skin color. the essential criteria is your race. this is unbelievable to me. by the way, there's no income test. there's no asset test for the underlying loans. there's no requirement whatsoever that covid caused any problem, caused any lost income
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or any other problem. it's not -- it's not mentioned. so what's the effect of this? this means that if you have a wealthy hispanic rancher who's got a million-dollar loan from the usda, he's going to get $1.2 million. he can pay off otoloan and $200,000 -- he can pay off the loan and $200,000 to do with what he likes. meanwhile if you are a poor white farmer in pennsylvania, you get nothing. how is that even remotely fair? i don't know how that could even be constitutional. it's certainly not in any way covid-related. there was an amendment in the house that would have limited the payment -- it would have allowed the program, which i object to, but it would have allowed this repayment of debt but only for debt incurred during the covid crisis. the democrats voted that down. that failed. this is unbelievable stuff.
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you know, even the provisions that purport to be about public health are completely divorced from any reality. as i think i mentioned earlier, we're administering almost two million doses of vaccines every day now. it's terrific, the highest daily rate of doses administered anywhere in the world. the government has already purchased 700 million doses. now, we've got less than 350 million americans, and not all americans are going to need two doses. so you can do the math. we have bought more vaccine doses than we need to administer. that's fine. but how many more do you need to buy when you've already bought more than enough for every single american? and that's not all we paid for. through the previous bills that we peaced, we fade for the research and development, we paid for the production, we paid for the transportation, we paid
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for all the accompanying supplies like syringes and the vials and the dry ice. we paid for all that. and we should have. that was the right thing-to-. insurance covers the cost of administering the vaccines -- between medicare and medicaid and private insurance, it's free. what is left to spend money on? i'm all ears, but i haven't heard we need to spend money on. so what do we have in this bill? we have no justification for it in terms of public health. we certainly have no justification for it in terms of the economy. we certainly have no justification in terms of basic fairness. and frankly it's going to do more harm than good. but you don't have to take my word for it. we could take the word of prominent liberal democrat economists. larry summers, he was the treasury secretary under president clinton. he was the director of the
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national economic council under president obama. and he said, and i quote, about this bill, macroeconomic stimulus on a stale of closer to world war ii levels than normal recession levels will set off inflationary pressuress of a kid we have not seen in a generation, end quote. or consider the words of steve ratner, a liberal economist, president obama named him the car czar, you may have remembered him administering that program he said, and i quote, the american rescue plan -- apparently what they call this -- the american rescue plan is also partly a legislative trojan horse, an enormous aid package aimed at dressing needs that in some cases go well beyond the immediate causes of covid. some of the most expensive provisions are the least well-targeted to help the neediest, end quote. and that's from a liberal
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democrat who i think supports the bill. but at least he's being honest in his description of it. so, madam president, my suggestion -- my plea to my democratic colleagues, to the new president, listen to some of the things you've said. try an approach that's actually informed by the facts on the ground, the health facts, the economic facts, the reality. look at what the science is currently telling us about the course that this virus has been taking. and what about actually attempting to bring people together, the path of unity, after we demonstrated five times last year that we can work together and do something on a bipartisan basis? i urge my colleagues, don't push through this radically partisan bill that will probably in the end do more harm than good. and i yield the floor.
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mr. johnson: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from wisconsin. mr. johnson: madam president, let me first say i wish that this chamber was full of our colleagues to have listened to my republican colleague, the senator from pennsylvania's description of what this bill is and what this bill isn't. and it's not a covid relief bill. and senator toomey did an excellent job. i'm hoping people are watching it on their tv screens because they really can't be reading the bill yet because it's not constructed. i don't want to repeat what the senator from pennsylvania, all the excellent points he made, but i want to come down because i think we've grown immune to these vast amounts a of money. i always knew that we were going to be in big trouble when we stopped talking about hundreds of billions of dollars and switched to talking about trillions of dollars. and so talk about $1 trillion or $2 trillion. it doesn't sound as much as $800
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billion which is the stimulus package under the obama administration. the fact of the matter is the we have already authorized $4 trillion in covid relief. that's 18% of last year's g.d.p. and roughly $1 trillion is yet to be spent. some of that isn't even obligated. and here we are, we're going to be debating over the next couple days $1.9 trillion. so i just wanted to come down here to the floor and try and illustrate what a massive amount of money $1.5 trillion is. or $1.9 trillion. you have to use analogies. again, the human mind really can't contemplate what a trillion is. our problem -- this first analogies, my wife talked to me about it, in terms of time. so this one is simply talking about, if i could give you, madam president, a dollar per
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second -- a dollar per second -- how much -- how long would it take me to give you a million dollars? you see the chart here. it would take 11.days. a dollar per second, 11.6 days. how long would it take you to accumulate $is billion? it would take 31.7 years. that's back when the chinese had their protests in tiananmen square. so the next question is, what about $1 trillion? this is what becomes mind-boggling. if i gave you a dollar every second and i wanted to give you a trillion dollars, it would take 31,688 years to give you a trillion dollars. that takes us back to the -- beyond the last glaciation period, a period in time when wisconsin was under a mile-thick glacier. by the way, a quick little aside
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for my colleague from -- the senator from rhode island, since that point in time, about 20,000 years ago, the water level in the bay of san francisco has increased 390 feet. now, that's global warming. that's a rise in the sea level. but that's what happened through natural causes. but that was hasn't aside. so how long would it take to accumulate $1 .9 trillion? 60,000 years, over 60,000 years. again, put that in context -- the human race began to develop language about 50,000 years ago. so that's the time analogy. another way of looking at this is through distance and volume. so here's the calculation. i should have brought a dollar bill to just demonstrate it's thickness. but the thickness of a dollar bill is .0043 inches thick. so to illustrate how much a
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trillion is, let's start with a million. if you stacked million-dollar bills on top of each other, they would be -- it would stack up to be 358 feet high. you see the calculation here. 358 -- that's about a 30- to 35-foot story building. so how big would a stack of a billion dollar bills be? it would be 67.86 miles. there's something called the carmen line. that's the point where the atmosphere ends and outer space begins. that's 62 miles. so a stack of a billion dollars would actually exceed the atmosphere and extend into outerspace. 67 miles. so again the next question is, well, how big would a stack be of a trillion dollar bills? it's a thousand times that. so it would be 67,866 miles
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high. that's an astonishingly large stack of dollar bills that equals a trillion dollars. again, we're not talking just a trillion dollars. we're not talking about just 67 miles worth. we're talking about $1.9t which would stack up to 135,723 miles high. madam president, the distance to the moon is 238,900 miles. so that stack of $1.9 trillion of one-dollar bills would be more than halfway to the moon. that is what we are debating spending, a stack of dollar bills that extends more than halfway the distance to the moon. and this is sat a point in time when we're -- and this is at a point in time when we're at a high level of debt.
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that single stack would be over 1.9 it will million. that would be eight stacks. seven stacks to go directly to it the moon. one further stack that's 95% of the way there. these are astonishing sums that we're talking about. and the majority party here wants to jam this through through a reconciliation process, no consultation with our side, just blow it through here, 20 hours of debate, a vote-a-rama, pass $1.9 trillion in spending, and go home e having no consideration of the fact that we are mortgaging our children's future. at some point in time, there will be a day of reckoning, a debt crisis. and p won't -- and it won't be pretty the my suggestion is at least as we consider this is let's actual slay a debate. let's have a discussion.
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let's consider the amendments. let's not do this in 20, 24 had 30 hours. let's take the time to seriously consider what we are doing to our children in contemplating intending a stack of dollar bills -- spending a stack of dollar bills extending halfway to the moon. with that, madam president, i yield the floor.
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mr. brown: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. brown: i ask to dispense with the quorum. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. brown: thank you, madam president. this week, we have an opportunity to finally deliver for millions of retirees and workers and small businesses by saving america's pensions. the multiemployer pension system is on the verge of collapse, threaten the livelihoods of more than a million -- more than a million americans and thousands of small businesses from new
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hampshire to ohio, across the country. this affects more than 100,000 workers and retirees in my state alone and millions more around the country. these pension plans are were -- were in danger before. now the economic emergency we're in has accelerated the crisis even further. multiemployer pension plans receive contributions based on the hours worked. as workers have been laid off during the pandemic, their employers no longer contribute to the pension plans while current retirees continue receiving their earned benefits, making a plan even more likely to fail. if that happens, madam president, it won't just be retirees feeling the pain. current workers will be stuck paying into pension funds for benefits they will never receive. small businesses will be left drowning in pension liability they can't afford to pay. small businesses that have been in the family for generations could face bankruptcy, and workers will lose jobs at businesses which have been
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forced to close up shop. the effect will ripple across the entire economy at a time when we can least afford it. the chamber of commerce has said the multiemployer mention system is an integral part of our economy. it's not only union businesses that participate in these plans that will close their doors. this will devastate small communities across the industrial heartland. small businesses in these communities are already hurting because of the virus. that's why we have to get this done. after a lifetime of hard work in service to our country, these workers and retirees have already waited far too long for congress to do the job we should have done. we have been trying to solve this for years. unions, the chamber of commerce, small businesses pretty much agree we need to get this done. the house has done its part. they have passed a solution multiple times. every time it stopped because of mitch mcconnell and the united states senate. he has deliberately blocked it. we have continued to try. the house does it year after year.
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people like the presiding officer and others have fought for this in the finance committee, have fought for this on the senate floor, and we simply haven't been able to move it. now senator mcconnell's out of the way, and we can finally keep the promise to these workers and their families. they spent years working on assembly lines bagging groceries, driving trucks, working to keep our economy going, and the money came out of every single one of their paychecks to earn these pensions. people in this town don't always understand the collective bargaining process. people give up dollars at the bargaining table today for the promise of a secure retirement with health care and a pension. that's what collective bargaining is. union workers sit down with each other and their employer to talk about giving up wage -- they are willing to give up wages today to have a more secure future. what's more american than that? and for years now, they have lived in fear of drastic cuts. one retiree from michigan told us he would lose two-thirds of
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his income and that at 71 years old there is no jobs out there that he could recover -- that we could get to recover what we would lose. he said pass the act so we can take this weight off of us and retire with the dignity that we earned for 30, 40, 50 years of hard-hardworking labor. it's always the same story. when wall street is in trouble, there is a bailout. when corporations need something, the stock market is in trouble, the washington elite drop everything to help. but these workers, they are not asking for a bailout. they are not asking for a handout. they are just asking for what they earn. these workers have been in the fight for years. their activism has gotten us this far. they have traveled all day and all night on buses. they have rallied outside in the bitter cold, in the hot d.c. summer, all trying to get people in this town to listen. let's finally deliver for them. let's give them peace of mind. let's keep this promise. it comes back to the dignity of work. when work has dignity, we honor
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the retirement security people earn. when work has dignity, we honor their retirement security that they gave up at the bargaining table in collective bargaining. i urge my republican colleagues in this body, colleagues with health care and retirement plans paid for by taxpayers, including these taxpayers that have been paying into their own pension fund for years, i urge my republican colleagues to think about these retired workers and think about the small business owners, companies like smucker's, a baker in navarre, ohio, a candy company in ohio, think about these retired workers, think about these small business owners, think about the stress they are facing. i have listened to my colleagues' speeches for years extolling the values of hard work and the virtue of small businesses. this is your chance to live up to your own words, to show americans if you work hard all your life, your government will, in fact, be there for you. join us.
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let's pass a solution that really indeed does honor the dignity of work. madam president, i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call: mr. sullivan: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from alaska. mr. sullivan: madam president, i ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sullivan: madam president, it's that time of the week that -- you know, our pages when we had them, always used to look forward to. it's the time of the week i come down to the floor and talk about someone in alaska who's making a huge impact on my state. a lot of times for the country. these two alaskans i'm going to talk about actually have gotten national news for the great work that they're doing. somebody we call our alaskans of the week. and it's usually about a group of individuals, one, two, maybe a group of people who are
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helping make alaska what in my view is the great estate in the country. resilient, tough, generous, kind, unique, and, madam president, like so many states, this pandemic has really hit alaska hard. tourism for sure. the oil and gas sector. last year really hit hard with low prices. unfortunately this year with the biden administration's attacks on this sector, the u.s. and alaska economy, it's tough. commercial fishing, tough. it's been a tough year economically. but in an area good news during the 3578d, -- pandemic, one i'm very proud of for all my constituents involving how we in alaska have responded on the health side. vaccines, testing, death rates. we have consistently been the top state rated in all of these
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categories throughout the pandemic, which is kind of amazing given that we are very, -- a very, very big state with a very small population. i know that so many americans watching right now, they want to get back out, visit alaska. our governor mike dunleavy recently tweeted with the best vaccination efforts in the country and some of the lowest covid numbers in the country, alaska is open for business, safe for travelers. so come on, america. get back up to alaska. love to have you. so this is all very true. our vaccination efforts are viewed as the best in the united states of america and the great lengths that so many in alaska have gone through to make it so have captured the country's
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imagination. these efforts just in the last couple of weeks have been featured all across the country, "u.s.a. today," "good morning america," "the washington post," "the new york times." a great piece by bloomberg news and so many others. so big thanks to the national press corps for featuring my state's efforts and importantly the heroic work being done to distribute lifesaving vaccines to a state that is more than two and a half times the size of texas. sorry there, senator cornyn, senator cruz. it's true. most of the geography of alaska is dotted with small villages without roads in freezing cold temperatures. i was in fair banks last weekend, just a couple of weeks ago in fair banks. hit almost 40 below. that is cold. all across alaska our health care workers are jumping on boat, single-prop airplanes,
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snow machines, and, yes, in a couple of cases dog sleds to bring the vaccine and hope to their fellow alaskans and it shows. as of a few days ago, close to 160,000 alaskans received at least their first vaccine dose. that is about 21% of our state's population. now, madam president, in southwest alaska, what we call the yukon delta, or the yk delta, those are to giant rivers that come together, these efforts have been particularly impressive. that's largely thanks to the amazing people at the y.k. health corps or y.k.h.c. which is the y.k. delta's tribal health provider. the whole organization consisting of just about 90
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health care professionals serves around 28,000 people in the y.k. region which is about the size of oregon. so huge area. not a lot of people. and prior to the vaccine, the y.k. delta had been strict bin covid-19 -- stricken by covid-19 with one of the highest infection rates in the country. in a very far-flung place in terms of the disbursement of the population. but it's the efforts of two women there in the y.k. delta, dr.s helen hodges and elizabeth bates who are our alaskans of the week who have been in charge getting the vaccine to roughly 50 remote villages in southwestern alaska. spread out over a territory, as i said about the size of oregon.
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the village populations in the y.k. delta range from about 1,200 people to as small as 10 in terms of population. so let's start with dr. hodges. she is the chief of staff at y.k.h.c. she grew up in rural minnesota. after graduating from the university of minnesota medical school, dr. hodges came to anchorage as a resident in 2002. eventually making her way to bethel which is the hub village -- it's a big community, the biggest in the y.k. delta. she absolutely fell in love with the area. she said, it has everything. very friendly people, authentic. it's beautiful. soon enough her patients turned into her family. also soon enough, she was, according to tricia franklin, alaska's director of the state office of rural health division,
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she was dr. hodges' go-to person for how things are working in rural communities and how to get things done. she worked in the emergency room attending cuts, bruises, broken bones. she delivered babies. she worked tirelessly to contain a number of serious t tuberculos outbreaks in the region and ten the virus hit. as i mentioned it hit the y.k. delta region very hard with some of the highest covid rates in america. and there are reasons for that. the multigenerational housing. very crowded housing in this region. communal lifestyle. and also -- here's a big one, madam president. and it should be a shock for every american listening. about 50% of the households in
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this region of america lack running water. let me say that again. some of the most patriotic communities in the country because alaska natives serve at higher raitts in the military than -- rates in the military than any other ethnic group in the country live in communities that don't have running water or flush toilets. american citizens. it's wrong. it's wrong. and we need, we, the u.s. senate, congress, need to continue to work on this issue. how do you wash your hands five times a day as the c. d.c. wants you to do during the pandemic when you don't have running water or flush toilets. we need to keep working on this. it's a disgrace, to be honest. so what happened when covid hit in this region because of a lack of sanitation and many other problems, precious lives were being lost. elders who are vital to pass on
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the traditional wisdom of the native alaskan culture and heritage were being lost and because of a lack of functioning sanitation, even young people which this viersz doesn't really -- virus doesn't really impact were starting to have respiratory illnesses and getting sick and some were even dying. it's horrible. it was terrifying particularly for an area that is still dealing with the multigenerational trauma of previous pandemics, particularly the spanish flu of 1918 which in several alaskan native communities wiped out entire communities. 60%, 70% mortality rates from that flu. so we needed to get to work fast, particularly in this region. enter another intrepid doctor and our other alaskan of the week dr. elizabeth bates.
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dr. bates arrived in bethel in december 2018, just a little over two years ago and she found a community that she loved. she had experience working in women's health and infection control and emergency care and disaster relief. she has great experience across the country, really across the world. as a doctor she worked with patients during 9/11, hurricane variety and has spent -- hurricane katrina and has spent time even in refugee camps in rwanda. in bethel she was in charge of setting up testing centers in the raj, working hand in glove with dr. hodges she started one of the first drive-thru and airport testing sites in rural alaska. much of it outside in the cold weather under tarps. but we all know, madam president, that testing alone, particularly as i said when people are living so close together and don't live in places where you can wash your hands frequently, testing alone
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wasn't nearly enough. they tried everything. public service announcements, reaching out to villagers, helping them use bleach to sanitize. it was a 24/7 effort but as i said, it wasn't enough. the virus was spreading rapid r. they were losing. people were dying. then on december 18, a few days before winter solstice, the darkest day of the year, hope came to bethel, alaska, because the first vaccines arrived. thanks to the great work of so many scientists, government workers, private sector workers, operation warp speed, the vaccine arrived. december 18, the y.k. delta, these two intrepid doctors i've been talking about cried. they had seen a lot of death and
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struggles in the region and like a christmas miracle, this vaccine arrived. they hugged each other and then they got to work. as i said, there are roughly 50 remote villages in the y.k. delta spread out over a territory about the size of many states in our country. as a matter of fact, bigger than most states in our country. so they traveled on small planes, trucks, on iced roads, snow machines, dog sleds. their operation project togo named in reference to one of the famous sled dogs that helped carry the diphtheria serum to nome which of course is the original inspiration for the iditarod sled dog race. sometimes it was so cold that they had to keep the fringes filled with covid serum under their clothes less the serum
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froze. the operation that they initiated and organized has hit every single village, all 50 in the y.k. delta bringing the vaccine to pretty much anyone who wants it. in some villages they've been able to vaccinate as much as half the population. as a result the numbers of covid infections and deaths are plummeting in this region and hope is spreading. this great team dr. hodges and bates as well as all in the community and all working at ykhc have made a huge differences. and this team has created a special bond that nobody will forget. drf bates, a rel -- dr. baith, a relative newcomer in alaska says the experience has made her fall in love with the y.k. delta region even more.
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she bought a home. she intends on staying. she describes the beauty of the region something that she appreciates even more now as, quote, our sky is huge. we have a front-row seat for the entire universe. these two doctors also have a front-row seat in providing -- and providing a front-row seat to hope during this pandemic. so i want to thank both of them again, dr. hodges and dr. bates, and to all those across alaska who are helping distribute the vaccine. as i mentioned right now, alaska is the number one state in the country per capita in terms of vaccine distribution and the number one state per capita in terms of testing and one of the lowest death rates. this is really amazing, really
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when you see how big and widespread and harsh the weather conditions can be in the great state of alaska. o -- our fellow alaskans are tough, innovative, and dr. hodges and dr. bates are a huge essential part of this effort. that's why i with aens to congratulate them and thank them -- that's why i want to congratulate them and thing them again for being our alaskans of the week. i yield the floor.
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mr. durbin: madam president? the presiding officer: the assistant majority leader. mr. durbin: i ask consent that the quorum call be suspended. the presiding officer: we are not in a quorum call at this moment. mr. durbin: thank you very much. i ask unanimous consent that the committee of health, education, labor, and pensions be discharged from further consideration of s. 164 and the senate proceed to its immediate consideration. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: s. 164, a bill to educate health care providers and the public on biosimilar biological products and for other purposes. the presiding officer: without objection, the committee is discharged and the senate will proceed to the measure. mr. durbin: i ask unanimous consent the bill be considered read a third time and passed, the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: madam president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of s. 578, which was introduced earlier today.
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the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: s. 578, a bill to improve the health and safety of americans living with food allergies and so forth and for other purposes. the presiding officer: without objection, the senate will proceed to the measure. mr. durbin: i further ask that the bill be considered read a third time and passed, the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table, with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: madam president, i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of s. 579, which was introduced earlier today. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: s. 579, a bill to make a technical correction to the a.l.s. disability insurance access ability of 2019. the presiding officer: without objection, the senate will proceed to the measure. mr. durbin: i further ask the billable read a third time and passed, the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table, with no intervening action or debate.
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the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: madam president, i ask unanimous consent the senate now proceed to the en bloc consideration of the following senate resolutions, which were submitted earlier today -- s. res. 90, school counseling week; s. res. 91, c.t.e. month; s. res. 93, university of alabama crimson tide. the presiding officer: you the senate will proceed to the resolutions en bloc. mr. durbin: i ask unanimous consent that the resolutions be agreed to, the preambles be agreed to, the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table, all en bloc. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: madam president ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to the consideration of s. res. 94, submitted earlier today. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: senate resolution 94, designating the week beginning february 28, 2021, as national tribal colleges and
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universities week. the presiding officer: without objection, the senate will proceed to the measure. mr. durbin: i know of no further debate on the resolution. the presiding officer: if there is no further debate, the question is on the resolution. all those in favor, say aye. all opposed, no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the resolution is agreed to. mr. durbin: i ask unanimous consent that the preamble being agreed, the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table, with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: madam president, i ask unanimous consent that when the senate completes its business today, it adjourn until 12:00 noon thursday, march 4. following the prayer and pledge, the morning hour be deemed expired, the journal of proceedings be approved to date, and the time for the two leaders be reserved for their use later in the day, the morning business be closed. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: if there is to further business to come before the senate, i ask that it stand adjourned under the previous order.
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the presiding officer: the senate stands adjourned until 12:00 noon tomorrow.cue plan, mr. president. as early as tonight the senate as early as tonight, the senate wil move to take up the american rescue plan, a bill designed to immediately deliver help to american families, workers and businesses struggling under the weight of the pandemic ant to lay the foundation for nation's recovery that is so needed. every day we see signs of hope and signs of caution in our fight against the covid

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