Washington, D.C. – Ahead of President Biden’s address before a joint session of Congress, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced his guests for the State of the Union. Schumer said the nine individuals from across New York State are representatives for the American workers and families who have received real help as a direct result of the Democratic agenda.
Leader Schumer said, “In the last year, Democrats have delivered for families, workers, and veterans, confronting head on the challenges that Americans face. This State of the Union, we celebrate New Yorkers and Americans from across the country who have seen their lives changed by actions we have taken and fought for. Democrats will continue to work on behalf of the American people to improve their lives and communities and lower costs.”
Please see below for bios of Leader Schumer’s guests and a transcript of his remarks at this morning’s press conference:
Okay, well, it's great to be here. Thank you all for coming. First, I'm going to talk about – I was lucky enough to bring nine guests to the State of the Union. And each of them symbolizes not only something important and good in New York but good around the whole country. And so I'm going to name those guests and give you a little inkling about each of them.
Kevin Kozlowski from Rochester, New York. I stood with Kevin – he was a veteran of the 82nd airborne, exposed to burn pits and he went to the VA, asked for help, got none, and took it up as a crusade along with other Rochester veterans. He is one of the people who exposed – exposed is probably the bad word – who taught me about the need for the PACT Act and helped push it through. So he'll be there in the gallery.
Savion Pollard is a Syracuse University student. He's a Navy veteran. He is the very first hire of Micron’s massive 100 billion dollar megafab in central New York that's being built because of my bill, the CHIPS and Science bill. There will be Savion Pollards all over the country. People who are getting jobs, good paying jobs for the first time, in industries with a great future like chipfab, which are returning from China to here.
Zeneta Everhart, she's a dear, dear lady. I met her right after the shooting in Buffalo. Her son Zaire was shot in that Buffalo Tops supermarket. Fortunately, he lived. And she came down and testified, I believe, here to talk about the need for gun legislation. Obviously, we passed some gun legislation that would have dealt with some of the problems of 18-year-olds automatically getting AR-15s. And that's what happened in Buffalo. And so she will be here.
Taylor Jane Stimmler is from New York City. Everhart’s from Buffalo. As I mentioned, I'm sure. I'm sure. Taylor is an NYU student, 25-year-old diabetes advocate. We passed the law ensuring that all seniors – I wrote the law, we introduced it – ensured that all seniors would not pay a penny for more than $35 insulin, and we wanted to get it done for everybody. So I put it in the reconciliation bill. As you know, the reconciliation bill knocked out it for below Medicare. So we're going to fight to get that done this year. And Taylor Jane Stimmler represents a younger person who desperately needs help with the high cost of insulin.
This guy's amazing. There's a man named Dr. Stanley Whittingham. He's a professor at Binghamton University. He also won the Nobel Prize for inventing the lithium-ion battery. He is the inventor. And this is one great guy. He gets lured by all these great universities, but he stayed at Binghamton University, which is one of the finest state universities in the country. I have a number of very, very outstanding graduates of that institution that worked for me, one of them is standing over here and she reminds me of it all the time. But in any case, we got a big federal investment – 60 some odd million dollars to start creating a lithium-ion battery research and manufacturing hub, right in Binghamton, New York. A lot of these cities, and this is not just true in New York, Syracuse had Carrier – no longer there. IBM was in Binghamton – no longer there. But these new industries will take their place and give these communities a sense of hope across America.
Pedro Gamboa Bermudez from Brooklyn. Pedro was born in Guatemala, worked as a baggage handler at JFK International Airport for more than 13 years. He came to the United States at a young age pursuing the American dream. But now he's helping others achieve that dream as well. He organized his terminal to form a union at JFK Airport and is pushing with the labor union SEIU for the Good Jobs for Good Airports Act, a bill that I've co-sponsored and would set a living wage for airport workers.
David Anderson from Albany, New York. This guy's a great guy. He's president and CEO of NY-CREATES and the Albany Nanotech Complex. Albany nanotech is the leading public-private partnership for developing the next generation of semiconductor chips. It's probably the leading place in the world. And we are hoping to get some, the CHIPS and Science Bill helped fund places like this and we're hoping to get good funding for it. He's the president of it and they are doing cutting edge research. You know that Dutch firm that makes some of the machines that make the chips that we said couldn't sell to China. Their only US location is right there in Albany.
Here's a wonderful lady – Cheryl Brannan from Yonkers. She's a leader in Black maternal health, and president of a group called Sister to Sister International. The horrible disparity, racial disparity in maternal morbidity is something America should be ashamed of. Well, Cheryl, sort of educated me on this issue. And we passed as you know, in the omnibus, one year funding on Medicaid and CHIPs for maternal, maternal health, and we're fighting this year to get the whole Momnibus done.
And finally, Imran Ansari from Long Island, just started his family, but they've been rattled by huge amounts of student debt. But thanks to Joe Biden's extensions of the moratorium on payments, he has been able to buy a home and will benefit even more when Republicans stop their push – President agreed to do this. Right wing Republicans, MAGA Republicans are trying to get it overturned in court, they go to their special little court where they know that the judges are in their favor. This will go up to the Supreme Court, we're fighting that so Imran and many millions of others like him can get their lives on track.
So these nine guests show two things. One, they show the amazing accomplishments that we had in the last Senate. And I would remind people, of our seven major bills in the last year, six were bipartisan. But it also shows the need for implementation. And implementation of these major accomplishments will be a top focus for us this year, working with the Administration, working with our Senators, and working with the various agencies as well as whatever legislation is needed.
So let me go on now to the SOTU. I'm looking forward for hearing President Biden later today about the amazing progress we've made in improving the lives of American families. And to hear his vision for the next two years in the Administration. As Majority Leader, and under the leadership and vision laid out by President Biden, we've been able to deliver more for the American people than ever before. All the bills that we passed, like guns, like PACT, like bipartisan infrastructure, like CHIPS and Science, like marriage equality, we did bipartisan. So people who say, ‘How are you going to get things done this year?’ I always try to get things done in a bipartisan way, getting things done is number one in the Senate, For most issues, you need bipartisanship.
Now, of course, when we can't get things done in a bipartisan way, we'll try to get them done on our own. And that was the American Rescue Plan passed in 2021, and, of course, the Inflation Reduction Act passed in 2022. And we've had one of the most historic Senate's around. This Senate Majority has stuck together. Unity is our strength. And we're going to keep at it. And I believe we will stay unified. I'm really, really excited about the up the upcoming two years, as I said, but there's an additional layer, which is implementation. And we're going to do everything we can to implement all these great accomplishments. People say, well, a lot of people don't know them. Well, of course, they pass the legislation, not everybody follows day to day what's going on in the Senate or what's going on in the House. But this year, you will see us rolling out these things that matter to people. I just saw it in my home state of New York.
We passed the Bipartisan Infrastructure bill - a record amount of money for infrastructure. People sort of read about it, maybe they read a line. But you know, it's abstract. But last week, the President and I went to Gateway, which has been a dream and passion of mine, and announced this really happening. The exaltation in New York was great. That's going to happen over and over and over in state after state and city after city. So I believe you're going to see the American public really, really proud, popular, and happy with what we were able to do in addition to what we'll try to do in this Senate.
So, we are unified here in the Senate as Democrats. House Democrats are pretty unified too. But it's a stark contrast to compare what's going on with House Republicans. You know, the back and forth between Speaker McCarthy and the MAGA Republicans. And it shows lack of unity, which is very, very worrisome and troublesome. Right now, House Republicans are risking economic disaster by holding our country hostage just to push their extreme, unpopular and downright dangerous agenda. And that's why they're scared to show their cards to the American people in general, and certainly when it comes to debt ceiling.
Our plan is simple. It's a plain, simple plan: Raise the debt limit, clean. It's simple, but it's a real plan. It's how we’ve done it three or four times in the last several years under both Republican and Democratic administrations. And we are saying to tell our Republican friends and Speaker McCarthy, show us your plan. He says he wants cuts – Where? He hasn't named a single place where he wants them. Is it going to be Social Security or Medicare? Don't just say no, prove it. Show us your plan. Now you say well, he said he's not going to do that. But a number of his Republicans are still saying they want to do it, the very same Republicans who got their way when they were organized. We can't be sure they won't cut Social Security and Medicare until we see their plan.
So the only thing we hear is a lot of rhetoric. One member says they want to cut the woke agenda. What's that? What cuts does that mean? Some say the woke military agenda. I don't even know what the heck they're talking about. But we need a plan. And yesterday, the House Appropriations Chair said they'd consider cutting SNAP benefits. Money to feed children who would otherwise go hungry. Are they really going to cut that? They have no plan. No plan. You can't say we want cuts, and then not show us what they are. So it's getting to be clear. Let me just say if making sure that hungry children are [fed is] part of the woke agenda, then we certainly don't have the same agenda.
So Republicans are stuck. They can't govern. They can't agree on anything. Instead, they're focused on political theater. They're not trying to do anything real. And we hope they won't continue to do this on something as important as the surveillance balloon. China sent that surveillance balloon over. The Biden Administration was calm, calculated, and effective. They listened to the military experts, they listened to the intelligence experts, and they did the right thing. But Republicans even before they saw and knew what was happening, started, some of them, not all, lambasting the president. Those criticisms were at best premature, and in all probability, highly political. This is one area where we don't need politics. So we need Democrats and Republicans to come together, we need the country to come together to condemn China for what it did, and have a unified front in dealing with the Chinese Communist Party. I applaud President Biden for his leadership. I applaud that he listened to the military and national security experts. And I think as we go forward in time, everyone's going to see what he did was the right thing. We hope our Republican colleagues will avoid the politics. And there's some talk of a joint resolution condemning China. I hope that's what they do.