Schumer Floor Remarks Announcing GOP Accepted Dem Proposal To Prevent The Sabotage Of Future Emergency Economic Response; Schumer Says Negotiators Can Now Close In On A Final Compromise On Emergency COVID Relief Legislation

December 20, 2020

Washington, D.C. — Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding Republicans accepting a proposal that would prevent the sabotage of the Federal Reserve’s ability to respond to future economic crises. Sen. Schumer explained that now that having overcome the last major hurdle, negotiators can finally close in on a final compromise on emergency COVID relief legislation. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

Now, we have spent the past four to five days locked in intense bipartisan negotiations over the final details of an emergency relief package.

There are a few issues outstanding but I’m quite hopeful that we are closing in on an outcome. It appears that barring a major mishap, the Senate and House will be able to vote on final legislation as early as tonight—tonight.

Many of the provisions in this bill are already public; they are all items that the country desperately needs and upon which there is no disagreement.

We are all ready to deliver a desperately needed extension of enhanced unemployment benefits; direct survival checks to millions of American families; and crucial relief to our schools, our small businesses, our health care system and funding to support the production and distribution of a vaccine.

As of yesterday, we had been steadily working through all of the other outstanding issues, but one issue threatened to derail the bill.

The Senator from Pennsylvania made an 11th hour demand to curtail the authority of the Fed to respond to economic crises, potentially leaving the Fed with less authority than it had even prior to the pandemic. The language in his provision was so broad, the intent seemed to be to sabotage the incoming administration’s ability to stabilize the economy and save jobs.

That was completely unacceptable to Democrats. But late last night, the logjam was broken.

Sen. Toomey accepted my compromise proposal to remove the dangerous, “similar to,” language in his bill that was overly broad. We sent the Senator far more limited new language around 8 p.m. last night and it was accepted a few hours later with a few technical changes. As a result, the Federal Reserve will retain its tools and authority in the event of a true emergency.

Now, this compromise should not have taken as long as it did and frankly it was irresponsible to threaten the entire package with this ideological attempt to limit the Fed and Treasury’s powers in an emergency.

But I’m very glad that our Republican colleagues relented and accepted our offer. The Toomey legislation was the last significant stumbling block to a bipartisan agreement moving forward. Solving our disagreement over the Fed’s authority was the key to unlocking the rest of the bill, and putting us on a path to final legislation.

Now that we have solved that disagreement, we can close in on a final agreement, finish drafting legislation, and move it through both chambers of Congress – hopefully as soon as tonight.

As we speak, the legislative text is being finalized. The time has come to move forward and reach a conclusion.

The legislation that's coming together will put money in the pockets of everyday people and extend many of the benefits that we included in the CARES Act, a bill I was proud to negotiate with Secretary Mnuchin. I will be the first to admit that, while this short-term deal is necessary to meet the urgent and growing needs that so many people are facing immediately going into the winter, it is not sufficient. It is necessary—it is not sufficient.

Democrats would have liked it to provide more relief, especially to state and local governments and especially to American families on the brink of financial collapse. The survival checks in this bill are a good start, but there was bipartisan support for $1,200 checks.

So let me be very clear about one thing: this bill will not be the final word on Congressional Covid-relief. When this chamber gavels back in 2021, we must pick up immediately where we left off. We must protect people’s jobs—whether they work for a company or a local government; whether they live in blue states or red states; whether they’re office employees or teachers, bus drivers and firefighters.

Still, the significance of this package should not be underestimated. We will deliver the second largest federal stimulus in our nation’s history. Only the CARES Act will have been bigger. This package will give the new president a head start as he prepares to right our ailing economy.

And it won’t include any provision to limit the legal rights of workers who are put in harm’s way. It won’t include any provision to gratuitously limit the authority of the Fed.

On many issues where Republicans once refused to grant an inch, we were also able to make some meaningful steps forward. Republicans wanted zero direct payments. They wanted zero unemployment insurance. They wanted zero rent relief. Only a few months ago, the Republican Leader admitted that twenty members of his caucus didn’t want to approve another dime in spending. Now, we are on the verge of passing more than $900 billion.

Once an agreement is finalized, I’ll have more to say about the contents of the bill and the process it took to achieve it.

But for now, I’m happy to report that we have surmounted the final largest hurdle, and an ending is in sight. Let’s get the job done together for the sake of the American people.