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 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
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.
Charles E. Grassley,
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.
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
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
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
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.