This Infrastructure Bill Harms Future Generations

August 9, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) delivered floor remarks regarding how the infrastructure bill is too expensive to afford.


To watch Senator Blackburn’s speech, click below or here.



You can read the transcript below or in the Congressional Record.


Madam President, recently, Francis Collins, who is

the current Director of the National Institutes of Health, said in an


We call on China to really open up, something they have not

done, and to be more transparent about what could be known


He was, of course, talking about the origins of the COVID-19


I couldn't agree more with Dr. Collins. The world is entitled to know

what happened in Wuhan. However, we have a saying in Tennessee that I

think applies here: What is good for the goose is good for the gander.

Of course, my question to Dr. Collins is, When will we see

transparency from the NIH about its role in the origins of the


On June 28, along with my colleagues Senators Marshall and Grassley,

I wrote to Dr. Collins asking him to open up the books on the NIH's

relationship with Chinese researchers.

Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that this letter be printed

in the Record

There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in

the Record, as follows:


June 28, 2021

Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D.,

Director, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD.

Dear Dr. Collins: On June 23, 2021, the Wall Street Journal

reported that Chinese researchers ``directed'' the National

Institutes of Health (NIH) ``to delete gene sequences of

early COVID-19 cases from a key scientific database,'' called

the NIH Sequence Read Archive. The article states that NIH

confirmed that it deleted the sequences. The article further

reports that the deleted data includes genomic sequences from

SARS-Co V-2 and that these sequences were from viral samples

collected in Wuhan ``in January and February 2020'' from

patients in the hospital.

This type of data may contain important and relevant

information that could help to better determine the virus's

origins. The efforts by Chinese researchers to delete the

data demands additional explanation. As you are aware, the

Chinese government has failed, from the beginning, to be open

and transparent with the world with respect to its role in

the pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in more than 600,000

deaths, and Congress has spent trillions of dollars to

support the American people, businesses, and the economy

during these difficult times. Simply put, the American people

deserve to know what their government knows about the origins

of this global illness. As part of our continuing oversight

with respect to NIH's role during the COVID-19 pandemic, we

request additional information about the NIH Sequence Read

Archive and the actions taken by Chinese researchers to have

NIH delete SARS-CoV-2 related data. Accordingly, please

answer the following no later than July 12, 2021:

1. Please describe, in detail, how and under what

circumstances data can be provided to the NIH Sequence Read

Archive and how and under what circumstances data can be

deleted from the same.

2. With respect to deleting data from the NIH Sequence

Archive, please name all personnel that have the authority to

do so. In your answer, please provide the names and titles of

the personnel that were involved in the deletion of SARS-Co

V-2 data.

3. With respect to the Wall Street Journal report, which

Chinese researcher(s) requested that the data be deleted from

the NIH Sequence Read Archive? When was the request made and

when did the deletion occur?

4. After deletion, does the NIH Sequence Read Archive

maintain any accessible back-up of the deleted data? If so,

please provide all records to us.

5. Please list all collaborating partners to the NIH

Sequence Read Archive.

6. In the past five years, how many researchers and other

personnel associated with the communist Chinese government

have requested that data be deleted from the NIH Sequence

Read Archive? Please list by requestor, date, reason, and the

information to be deleted. Please also note whether and when

that material was in fact deleted.

7. More specifically, in the past five years, how many

researchers and other personnel associated with the communist

Chinese government have requested that data be deleted from

the NIH Sequence Read Archive relating to coronaviruses?

Please list by requestor, date, reason, and the information

to be deleted. Please also note whether and when that

material was in fact deleted.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.


Marsha Blackburn,

U.S. Senator.

Roger Marshall,

U.S. Senator.

Charles E. Grassley,

U.S. Senator.


Mrs. BLACKBURN. Madam President, this letter asked Dr. Collins about

news reports that Chinese researchers were allowed to delete data from

a genetic database managed by the NIH. The data they removed included

information about the novel coronavirus that caused the COVID-19


Dr. Collins has not responded to the letter, but this isn't the sort

of allegation the NIH will be able to ignore into nonexistence. We need

a response. We need to know what happened. We need transparency from

the NIH, just as the NIH is asking for transparency from China.

Dr. Collins must reveal what definition of ``gain of function

research'' NIH used when it approved funding for the Wuhan Institute of

Virology back in 2016. We now know that the research we paid for helped

Chinese researchers engineer different versions of coronaviruses.

We also need to know why the Wuhan Institute of Virology was allowed

to do dangerous research with American taxpayer dollars in a

``biosafety level 2'' lab. In case you are not familiar with this

designation, one scientist compared the safety and security levels of a

biosafety lab 2 to that of a dentist's office.

In 2017, NIH reversed the ban on gain of function research. Why was

NIH allowed to make such an important decision unilaterally?

I was relieved to hear Dr. Collins express support for transparency

from China, but getting answers out of Beijing won't end the

investigation. The American people have suffered for almost 2 years

under the threat of illness and economic collapse. It is not too much

to demand that their own government live up to the same standards we

all agree we should hold our research partners to.


H.R. 3684


Tennesseans want answers from the NIH. They are also still reeling

over the price tag of this infrastructure bill. Over the past few days,

I have gotten a lot of calls and text messages from people back home. I

stood right here and I have spoken about how Tennesseans are confused

about this process. I want to amplify something for those who may not

have caught my remarks.

Tennesseans aren't talking about process or pay-fors. They don't

follow the Senate rules. What they are confused about is why my

Democratic colleagues are in such a rush to spend money we do not have

on projects the American people never asked for.

I don't want my Democratic colleagues to make a mistake and accuse

Tennesseans of not caring about infrastructure. They couldn't be

further from the truth on that one. Tennessee is a logistics State. We

are roads, bridges, rivers, runways, railways. So believe me when I say

Tennesseans care about infrastructure. They are ready to invest in

infrastructure. Indeed, the surface transportation bill we passed out

of Commerce, Science, and Transportation--they like that. But cobbling

together a trillion-dollar vehicle for campaign promises and calling it

infrastructure is not something that passes muster with them.

Several of my Republican colleagues who were allowed to negotiate

this bill have emphasized that this is a bipartisan compromise. We

thank them for their efforts. They want us to understand that it is not

a perfect bill. No bill is ever perfect. All of that is true. We

understand that. We appreciate the efforts that have gone into this.

But, as my colleague from Kansas said, it is not the compromise that is

the problem. It is not the efforts; we appreciate those. It is the fact

that this is a bill that is too expensive to afford.

The minority leader said it best a few months ago when he compared

this bill to a Trojan horse. It looks like one thing, but it is hiding

something you don't want getting past the front door.

For months, the Democratic Party has been very public about their

intentions for the bill. The word ``infrastructure'' no longer has any

meaning when it comes out of their mouths because everything has been

infrastructure at some point--childcare for a while until it took a

back seat to court-packing. Now climate action is infrastructure.

Back home, we deal in truth and consequences. Tennesseans have spent

the past few days looking at everything hunkered down inside this

package, and they know it is not all about infrastructure investment. I

am talking to county mayors. I am talking to State reps. I am talking

to State senators. They are concerned about 5 percent of the bill for

infrastructure and the rest, other projects.

I have spoken numerous times about the ways President Biden and his

faithful lieutenants in Congress have tried to diminish freedom in the

name of progress, but I am compelled to remind my colleagues once again

that the decision to increase government spending is a decision to

increase government involvement and eventually government control. You

cannot have the one without getting the other too.

This isn't investing in the future. If anything, this pattern of

reckless spending will ensure that the version of the American dream so

many of us have enjoyed disappears before our youngest generations are

old enough to sign the dotted line on their driver's license

application. Our Democratic colleagues aren't paving the way to

prosperity for our children and grandchildren with this type of

spending; they are building the gateway to socialism, and this bill can

be seen as a down payment.

Later this week, if all goes according to plan for my colleague from

New York, we will take a vote on a budget that is going to make the

American people think they got a discount on the infrastructure

package. It is another day, another fight over a multitrillion-dollar

spending spree that defies common sense and rejects all notions of


If the infrastructure bill was the down payment for that gateway to

socialism, this budget rips the gates off the hinges and invites the

big spenders and central planners to roll right on through. For the low

price of $3.5 trillion, they will have it all: a laundry list of

incentives for government dependency, a foot in the door to our homes

and families, and an excuse to seize power and centralize it right here

in Washington.

My Democratic colleagues really enjoy using the words ``free'' and

``universal'' to describe their government handouts. We have universal

pre-K, tuition-free community college, universal healthcare, and even a

free path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

The American people see this for what it is, though. It is bait. In

exchange for your freedom and your autonomy and all your hopes and

dreams, you, too, can become a client of the State. You, too, can live

``The Life of Julia,'' as depicted in the roundly panned cartoon the

Obama administration created. The left always signals where they are

headed, and, for them, this is their goal, their utopia--total control

from daylight to dark, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for the rest of

your life.

Our public debt is set to hit $45 trillion by 2031--$45 trillion.

Deficits are on track to hit $1.8 trillion--yes, indeed, that is every

year--and no budget gimmick on the books can change that. President

Reagan's warning about the fragile nature of freedom rings especially

true after hearing those numbers.

Here is what he said:


[F]reedom is never more than one generation away from

extinction . . . It [has to] be fought for and defended by

each generation.


What does that mean?

It means we--each of us, individually, collectively, together--has a

duty to future generations to pull out of this skid before we tip the

scales away from freedom and toward levels of government dependency and

control you can't unravel after fixing a 4-year mistake.

I yield the floor.