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PREPARED REMARKS: Chairman Sanders on Markup of Public Health Bills and Nomination

WASHINGTON, May 23 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, today led the committee in marking up legislation on public health and on the nomination of Stephen H. Ravas to be Inspector General for the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Sanders’ remarks, as prepared for delivery, are below and can be watched here:

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions will come to order.

This morning, we will be considering seven bipartisan bills and one nomination. We’re going to debate each bill and then stack all votes at the end.

Let me start off by thanking each of the bill sponsors for working on these important policies and to all the staff for working together to prepare these bills for our markup today.

The first bill that we will consider is S. 3679, the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Reauthorization Act, led by Senators Kaine and Young, and co-sponsored by Senators Marshall and Murkowski.

This legislation would reauthorize $45 million per year over the next five years so that health care workers in America can access the mental health services they desperately need. This legislation is named after a physician from Charlottesville, Virginia who died by suicide while serving on the front lines of the pandemic in New York.

And let me thank Senator Kaine for his leadership on this issue.

The second bill is S. 3765, the Emergency Medical Services for Children Reauthorization Act, led by Senators Casey and Budd, and co-sponsored by Senators Smith and Collins.

This bill will improve the health care that infants, children, and teenagers receive in emergency rooms around the country. It also helps to ensure that paramedics and first responders receive the training they need, and that hospitals and ambulances have the equipment they need to treat pediatric emergencies.

The third bill is S. 4351, the Poison Control Centers Reauthorization Act, led by Senators Murray, Tuberville, Lujan, and Romney.

This legislation provides funding for 55 poison control centers around the country that are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It also provides federal funding for a national hotline (1-800-222-1222) that the American people can call to get the help they need about a potential poison exposure from trained toxicologists, nurses, and other medical professionals.

The fourth bill is S. 3775, the Building Our Largest Dementia Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Reauthorization Act, led by Senators Collins and Cortez Masto and cosponsored by Senators Kaine, Murkowski, Lujan, Markey, Mullin, and Marshall.

This legislation authorizes federal funding to help identify potential treatments and cures for Alzheimer’s Disease. It will help patients and family caregivers manage this terrible illness. And it will help older Americans to receive the early screening and protection they need.

The fifth bill is S. 4325, the Lifespan Respite Care Act, led by Senators Collins and Baldwin. This bill reauthorizes a grant program to support respite care for family caregivers at $10 million per year over 5 years.

The sixth bill is S. 3757, the Congenital Heart Futures Reauthorization Act, led by Senators Durbin and Young. This bill extends funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to prevent premature death and disability and increase the quality of life for Americans with congenital heart disease, one of the most common birth defects in our country.

The seventh bill is S. 4045, the East Palestine Health Impact Monitoring Act, led by Senators Vance, Brown, Casey and Fetterman.

This bill would authorize a study on the health impacts of the tragic train derailment last year in Ohio that devastated communities in both Ohio and Pennsylvania. As we all know, that train was carrying hazardous chemicals that were both spilled and burned, releasing those chemicals into the soil, surrounding waterways, and air – and we still don’t know how this will impact the long-term health of the residents living in these communities.

Finally, we will consider the nomination of Stephen Ravas to be Inspector General of the Corporation for National and Community Service, commonly referred to as AmeriCorps.

Mr. Ravas has served in the AmeriCorps Inspector General’s office since 2019. He started as Counsel, then became Deputy Inspector General, and is currently serving as the Acting Inspector General.

Prior to these roles, Mr. Ravas was an Associate Counsel at the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General and a Senior Investigative Counsel at the Department of Commerce Office of Inspector General.

Mr. Ravas is a well-qualified nominee and I support his nomination.

If we pass these seven bills out of this Committee today, we will have reported out 29 bills so far this Congress, which is a pretty good record.

Senator Cassidy, you are recognized for an opening statement.