[Congressional Record Volume 167, Number 17 (Thursday, January 28, 2021)]
[Senate]
[Pages S199-S202]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




          STATEMENTS ON INTRODUCED BILLS AND JOINT RESOLUTIONS

      By Mr. SCHUMER (for himself, Mr. Wyden, Mr. Menendez, Mrs. 
        Gillibrand, Mr. Booker, Mr. Durbin, and Ms. Duckworth):
  S. 85. A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to repeal 
the limitation on the deduction for certain taxes, including State and 
local property and income taxes; to the Committee on Finance.
  Mr. SCHUMER. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the text of 
the bill be printed in the Record.

[[Page S200]]

  There being no objection, the text of the bill was ordered to be 
printed in the Record, as follows:

                                 S. 85

       Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
     the United States of America in Congress assembled,

     SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

       This Act may be cited as the ``Securing Access to Lower 
     Taxes by ensuring Deductibility Act'' or the ``SALT 
     Deductibility Act''.

     SEC. 2. REPEAL OF LIMITATION ON DEDUCTION FOR STATE AND 
                   LOCAL, ETC. TAXES.

       (a) In General.--Section 164(b) of the Internal Revenue 
     Code of 1986 is amended by striking paragraph (6).
       (b) Effective Date.--The amendment made by this section 
     shall apply to taxable years beginning after December 31, 
     2020.
                                 ______
                                 
      By Mr. REED (for himself, Mr. Brown, Mr. Merkley, Ms. Cortez 
        Masto, Mr. Cardin, Ms. Smith, Mr. Booker, Mr. Van Hollen, Mr. 
        Murphy, Ms. Hirono, Ms. Rosen, Mrs. Gillibrand, Mr. Whitehouse, 
        Mrs. Shaheen, Ms. Klobuchar, Mr. Lujan, Mr. Casey, Mr. Durbin, 
        Ms. Warren, Mr. Blumenthal, Ms. Hassan, Ms. Duckworth, Mr. 
        Heinrich, Mr. Leahy, Mr. Coons, and Ms. Stabenow):
  S. 96. A bill to provide for the long-term improvement of public 
school facilities, and for other purposes; to the Committee on Finance.
  Mr. REED. Mr. President, among the many barriers to safely bringing 
students, teachers, and staff back to school for in-person instruction 
is the condition of school facilities. A recent Government 
Accountability Office (GAO) report found that over half (54 percent) of 
school districts nationwide need to update or replace multiple systems 
in their schools, such as heating, ventilation, air conditioning 
(HVAC), or plumbing. These systems are especially critical to 
safeguarding public health as we combat COVID-19.
  Now is the time to invest in school infrastructure. Doing so will 
improve the resilience of our schools, improve student learning, reduce 
carbon emissions, and create jobs. That is why I am proud to partner 
with Chairman Scott in the House of Representatives in introducing the 
Reopen and Rebuild America's Schools Act to fix our schools. I would 
like to thank my Senate colleagues who are joining in this effort, 
including Senators Brown, Booker, Cardin, Cortez Masto, Whitehouse, 
Merkley, Hirono, Gillibrand, Van Hollen, Rosen, Smith, Murphy, Shaheen, 
Klobuchar, Lujan, Casey, Durbin, Warren, Blumenthal, Hassan, Heinrich, 
Duckworth, Coons, Leahy, and Stabenow.
  Public schools play a vital role in every community across the 
Nation. They play a central role in our democracy--educating the next 
generation, serving as polling places for our elections, hosting 
community meetings and events, and so much more. When there is a 
natural disaster or an emergency, people often gather at their public 
schools for shelter, information, and resources. They are essential 
facilities and must be included in any new major federal investment in 
infrastructure.
  Safe, healthy, modern, well-equipped schools are also essential for 
advancing student achievement and ensuring that the next generation is 
prepared to meet the economic, social, environmental, and global 
challenges our Nation faces. Yet, too many of the over 50 million 
students and six million staff who learn and work in our public schools 
spend their days in facilities that fail to make the grade. In fact, 
the American Society of Civil Engineers gave public school buildings 
across the country an overall grade of D+ in its latest report card. 
The 2016 State of Our Schools report found that state and local 
governments spend $46 billion less than what is required to update and 
maintain their school facilities.
  States and local communities cannot bridge this gap alone, especially 
when many struggle to simply keep teachers and staff on the payroll. We 
know the budget shortfalls will hit low-income and minority communities 
the hardest. The GAO report found high poverty schools were more likely 
to rely on state funding to cover the cost of building repairs compared 
to wealthier schools, which were more likely to fund projects through 
local property taxes. The Federal government can and should be a 
partner in upgrading our public school facilities.
  Addressing this need is not only the right thing to do for our 
students; it will also give a needed boost to our economy, putting 
people to work in family sustaining jobs. According to an analysis by 
the Economic Policy Institute, every $1 billion spent on construction 
generates 17,785 jobs.
  The Reopen and Rebuild America's Schools Act of 2021 will create a 
Federal-State partnership for school infrastructure. It will provide, 
over ten years, a total of $130 billion in direct grants and school 
construction bonds to help fill the annual gap in school facility 
capital needs, while creating nearly two million jobs.
  Specifically, the Reopen and Rebuild America's Schools Act will 
provide $100 billion in formula funds to states for local competitive 
grants for school repair, renovation, and construction. States will 
focus assistance on communities with the greatest financial need, 
encourage green construction practices, and expand access to high-speed 
broadband to ensure that all students have access to digital learning. 
Our legislation would also provide $30 billion for qualified school 
infrastructure bonds (QSIBs), $10 billion each year from FY 2022 
through FY 2024, and restore the Qualified Zone Academy Bonds (QZABs) 
that were eliminated in the Republican Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The 
legislation also eases the matching requirements and expands the 
authority and eligible purposes of QZABs to allow local education 
agencies to construct, rehabilitate, retrofit, or repair school 
facilities. The Reopen and Rebuild America's Schools Act also supports 
American workers by ensuring that projects use American-made iron, 
steel, and manufactured products and meet labor standards.
  I would like to thank the broad coalition of educators, community 
organizations, unions, civil rights advocates, and employers that have 
provided feedback and support for this legislation, including the 21st 
Century Schools Fund, AASA The School Superintendents Association, 
American Association of School Administrators, American Concrete 
Pavement Association, American Concrete Pipe Association, American 
Concrete Pressure Pipe Association, American Concrete Pumping 
Association, American Federation of Teachers, American Federation of 
State, County and Municipal Employees, Association of Educational 
Service Agencies, Association of Latino Administrators and 
Superintendents, Association of School Business Officials 
International, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 
BlueGreen Alliance, Build America's School Infrastructure Coalition, 
Californians for School Facilities, Coalition for Healthier Schools, 
Concrete Foundations Association, Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute, 
Council of Great City Schools, Green Building Initiative, Healthy 
Schools Network, International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail 
and Transportation Workers (SMART), International Union of Bricklayers 
and Allied Craftworkers, International Union of Operating Engineers, 
International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, National Association 
of Federally Impacted Schools, National Association of Elementary 
School Principals, National Association of Federally Impacted Schools, 
National Association of School Nurses, National Association of 
Secondary School Principals, National Concrete Masonry Association, 
National Education Association, National Precast Concrete Association, 
National PTA, National Ready Mixed Concrete, National Rural Education 
Advocacy Consortium, National Rural Education Association, National 
Urban League, North America's Building Trades Union, North American 
Concrete Alliance, Organizations Concerned About Rural Education, 
Parents for School Safety, Portland Cement Association, Precast/
Prestressed Concrete Institute, Public Advocacy for Kids, Rebuild 
America's Schools Coalition, Rural School and Community Trust, Teach 
Plus, The Brick Industry Association, Tilt-Up Concrete Association, 
U.S. Green Building Council, and the United Steelworkers.
  We have no time to waste in fixing our deteriorating school 
infrastructure. In the words of a student activist in Providence, Rhode 
Island: ``Students cannot learn in a crumbling building, a school that 
isn't fit to uplift our minds.'' We need to listen to our students, 
strengthen our communities,

[[Page S201]]

and improve our school buildings. I urge all of our colleagues to 
support the Reopen and Rebuild America's Schools Act and press for its 
passage
                                 ______
                                 
      By Mrs. FEINSTEIN:
  S. 102. A bill to amend the West Los Angeles Leasing Act of 2016 to 
authorize the use of certain funds received pursuant to leases entered 
into under such Act, and for other purposes; to the Committee on 
Veterans' Affairs.
  Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Mr. President, I rise to speak in support of the 
``West Los Angeles VA Campus Improvement Act,'' which I introduced 
today. Representative Ted Lieu (D-CA) is introducing companion 
legislation in the House.


              Background on the West Los Angeles VA Campus

  In 1888, the 388-acre campus that is now home to the West Los Angeles 
VA Medical Center was deeded to the federal government by Arcadia 
Bandini de Stearns Baker and Senator John P. Jones in order to 
establish a home for disabled Civil War Veterans.
  Until the 1970s, the land served primarily to house Veterans, and the 
campus long represented the largest Veteran housing development in the 
nation.
  Unfortunately, in 1972, 2,800 Veterans living on the West LA VA 
campus were displaced after the Sylmar Earthquake caused major damage 
on campus. Rather than repair the housing units, the VA eventually 
leased portions of the property to non-VA tenants.
  Forty years later, homeless Veterans and advocates sued the VA for 
illegally leasing facilities on campus and for failing to use the 
property to support Veterans, as required by the original deed.
  A U.S. District Court subsequently ruled that many leases on campus 
were illegal under the terms of the original deed, and in 2015, the VA 
agreed to facilitate the development of 1,200 housing units for 
homeless Veterans on campus.
  In 2016, Congress enacted legislation that I introduced with Senator 
Barbara Boxer and Congressman Ted Lieu, entitled the ``West Los Angeles 
Leasing Act of 2016,'' to set up an oversight framework for the housing 
development and to ensure that lease revenues from ongoing leases 
stayed on campus.


                          Need for Legislation

  In 2018, the VA selected a ``Principal Developer'' to complete 
housing renovation and construction projects on campus, allowing for a 
more streamlined and efficient building process.
  However, the VA has determined that current law restricts it from 
using on-campus lease revenues for housing construction, maintenance, 
or services. The VA has determined that clarifying language is needed 
to ensure that funds generated on campus can be used for these 
purposes.
  Giving VA the flexibility to use locally-generated revenue in this 
way could significantly reduce the time it takes to get homeless 
Veterans into housing.


                              Bill Summary

  The ``West LA VA Campus Improvement Act'' would explicitly authorize 
the VA to use any funds collected pursuant to leases, easements or 
other use agreements at the West LA VA for the development of 
supportive housing and services on campus.
  The bill would also increase the time period for enhanced use leases 
on the campus from 75 to 99 years. Increasing the length of the leases 
would align with other leasing terms the VA has, and help reduce the 
financing costs for new housing.


                               Conclusion

  Last year, the regional homelessness count reported that more than 
3,900 Veterans are experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles. It is long 
past time for this land to be returned to its intended purpose: to 
serve as a home where Veterans can receive the care and treatment they 
deserve.
  This bill will help move us closer to that reality.
  I hope my colleagues will join me in support of this bill. Thank you, 
Mr. President, and I yield the floor.
                                 ______
                                 
      By Mr. REED (for himself, Mr. Whitehouse, Mr. Wyden, and Mr. 
        Sanders):
  S. 127. A bill to support library infrastructure; to the Committee on 
Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.
  Mr. REED. Mr. President, today I am introducing legislation to 
address the decades of underinvestment in our Nation's libraries by 
reinstating Federal support for library construction.
  Libraries are essential community institutions that give the public 
access to information and services that expand learning and promote 
economic opportunity. When we invest in our libraries, we are offering 
a helping hand and hope for the future. During natural disasters and 
economic upheaval, libraries offer the resources and information that 
help people get back on their feet. As the Rolling Stones' Keith 
Richards reportedly said, ``The public library is the great 
equalizer.''
  Over the last year, COVID-19 and the heightened attention to racial 
and economic inequality have made clear that investment in our 
communities should be a national priority as we work to lift people up 
and bring the country closer together. And that our investment in 
infrastructure must encompass vital community assets like schools and 
libraries and not just roads, bridges, and highways.
  And while we know libraries are more than buildings with books and 
computers, they are still buildings. For thirty years, the Federal 
government invested in the physical infrastructure of our libraries, 
but abandoned that program in the early 1990s. The intervening years 
have taken their toll on library facilities. Indeed, the average 
library building is now more than 40 years old and many need large-
scale improvements and modernization.
  On top of this longstanding underinvestment, the pandemic has forced 
libraries to adapt and innovate to meet the evolving needs of their 
communities despite limited financial resources. The American Library 
Association projects billions of dollars in losses to libraries over 
the course of the pandemic, at a time when reliance on libraries from 
low-income, underserved, and Tribal communities is increasing. The 
pandemic's outsized impact on vulnerable communities only heightens the 
urgency of investing in libraries.
  The Build America's Libraries Act would make $5 billion available 
over three years to support improvements to library facilities and 
invest in new library infrastructure to expand the reach of library 
services and programs. Priority is given to libraries that demonstrate 
the greatest need and predominantly serve underserved or distressed 
communities. The legislation also places emphasis on projects that seek 
to enhance facility safety, high-speed broadband access, accessibility 
for those with disabilities, or energy efficiency. Library construction 
funded by this legislation will directly boost our struggling economy 
by putting Americans to work and strengthening the facilities that 
connect patrons with educational and workforce training resources and 
local economic opportunities.
  Libraries have always anchored our communities, and as such, we 
should ensure their ability to provide critical services for years to 
come. I am pleased to be joined by Senators Whitehouse, Wyden, and 
Sanders in introducing this bill, which has the support of many 
organizations, including the American Library Association; American 
Indian Library Association; American Institute of Architects; American 
Society of Interior Designers; Association of Tribal Archives, 
Libraries, and Museums; Association for Rural & Small Libraries; Chief 
Officers of State Library Agencies; Council of State Archivists; 
Education Market Association; International WELL Building Institute; 
National Coalition for History; National Coalition for Literacy; 
National Digital Inclusion Alliance; National Summer Learning 
Association; Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband Coalition; and Urban 
Libraries Council. I hope that our colleagues will join us in 
cosponsoring the Build America's Libraries Act and work for its 
inclusion in any infrastructure package.
                                 ______
                                 
      By Mrs. FEINSTEIN:
  S. 138. A bill to waive certain pay limitations for Department of 
Agriculture and Department of the Interior employees engaged in 
emergency wildland fire suppression activities, and for other purposes; 
to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.
  Ms. FEINSTEIN. Mr. President, I rise to speak in support of the 
``Wildland Firefighter Fair Pay Act,'' which I introduced today.

[[Page S202]]

  



                               Background

  Fueled by climate change, the annual Western wildfire season has 
grown longer and more intense. Where the threat used to peak between 
August and November, we are now seeing massive wildfire events earlier 
in the Summer and continuing through the end of the year.
  Last year alone, California experienced more than 9,600 fires which 
burned more than 4.1 million acres, consumed more than 10,000 
structures, and claimed 33 lives.
  It is imperative that we commit enough manpower and resources to 
combat the threat that such devastating wildfire seasons pose to life 
and property.
  Unfortunately, some of our most experienced Federal firefighters work 
so many overtime hours each year that they reach an overtime pay cap 
and become ineligible for additional overtime compensation. Others are 
forced to pay back money they have rightfully earned fighting 
wildfires.


                          Need for Legislation

  Federal firefighters from the Departments of Agriculture and the 
Interior are paid on the General Schedule (GS) pay scale based on their 
seniority and performance. They make a base salary and are paid 
overtime when they exceed eight hours a day.
  However, there is an annual premium pay cap that limits how many 
overtime hours for which these firefighters can be compensated.
  This arbitrary pay cap places an unfair expectation on federal fire 
personnel to work long hours for less or even no pay, and serves as a 
dangerous disincentive to respond to more fire incidents, especially 
later in the fire season. California's worst wildfires often occur late 
in the fire season, further illustrating the problem we face.
  The Forest Service estimates that up to 500 senior-level firefighters 
either stop participating or do not request pay for hours worked once 
they reach the pay cap. This has a significant negative impact on 
federal wildfire response capabilities.


                     What the Legislation Would Do

  Our bill would create a statutory waiver for Federal firefighters 
responding to wildfire emergencies to ensure they receive fair 
compensation for all overtime hours they work.
  This waiver would apply to Forest Service and Department of the 
Interior personnel engaged in emergency wildland fire suppression 
activities.


                               Conclusion

  For wildland firefighters, working long hours in dangerous conditions 
is often considered a necessary part of the job. It is crucial that 
this demanding work be recognized, and that these heroes be 
appropriately compensated for the critical service that they perform.
  I hope my colleagues will join me in support of this bill. Thank you, 
Mr. President, and I yield the floor.

                          ____________________