Schumer Floor Remarks On The Trump Administration's Latest Attempt To Eliminate The Affordable Care Act, Senate Democrats’ Plan To Prohibit The DOJ From Using Funds To Litigate The Downfall Of The ACA In Circuit Court, The Need For A Disaster Package That Aids In Puerto Rico’s Recovery, And The Need To Make The Mueller Report Public

March 28, 2019

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the Trump administration's latest attempt to eliminate the Affordable Care Act, Senate Democrats’ plan to prohibit the DOJ from using funds to litigate the downfall of the ACA in circuit court, the need for a disaster package that aids in Puerto Rico’s recovery, and the need to make the Mueller report public. Below are his remarks, which can also be viewed here:

On Monday, the Trump administration doubled down on their assault on American healthcare by supporting an effort to completely eliminate the healthcare law through the courts. People scratch their heads. Are they really doing this after trying for two years unsuccessfully? After losing the election? Yep, they were. The action is no small matter; the Trump administration’s radical support for the wholesale elimination of the health care law would send our health care system into certain chaos.

If the Trump administration has its way it would send premiums soaring for millions of Americans.

It would revoke coverage for tens of millions more who gained coverage through Medicaid expansions.

It would strike protections for an estimated 133 million adults in America who have pre-existing medical conditions, even people who get coverage through their employer. Let me say that again. There are 133 million Americans who have pre-existing medical conditions. If the Trump administration has its way, the insurance company could just tell those 133 million and their families, “Cut you off. We don’t want to pay for your insurance anymore because it’s too expensive. Your daughter has cancer. Your wife has severe diabetes.” It’s a disgrace.

And let’s not forget…this system would impose billions of dollars in new prescription drug costs on seniors in Medicare.

The consequences are dire, and that’s why we are introducing an amendment to ensure that NOT A DIME OF the American people’s MONEY goes to the Trump administration’s fight to destroy the entire healthcare system. Not one cent at the Department of Justice should be used to hurt Americans like this.

You know, Donald Trump campaigned on ending Obamacare. And then the Republican Party – and even, we thought, President Trump himself – saw they had no replacement. This repeal and replace? There’s no replacement. They couldn’t come up with one. And so what is the Republican Party standing for?

Well, here it is. “The Republican Party will become the party of health care,” says Donald Trump? Absolutely not. Here’s what his tweet should say if he’s being honest and telling the truth to the American people: “The Republican Party will become the party that ended your health care.” You cannot have a situation where the Trump administration, President Trump says one thing and their Attorney General goes to court to do the opposite. You cannot – or should not – have a situation where our Republican senators get up and say we need to expand health care for people and then they say not a peep when their own president tries to strip it away from them.

President Trump says the Republican Party wants to be the party of Health Care? Well I say God help the Middle Class if the Republicans are the party of health care. What, dare I ask, is their plan? Let me ask Leader McConnell and every Republican senator – and I hope their constituents will ask them, too, because this is the number one issue across the country. We should ask our Republican friends and the president:

What’s your plan to deal with prescription drug costs? Costs are at an all-time high.

But instead, they are supporting this lawsuit, which would impose billions of dollars in prescription drug costs on seniors.

We ask President Trump and Leader McConnell: What’s your plan to get more people covered on high quality health insurance that they can actually afford? At a time when premiums are still rising because of sabotage by the Trump administration, how will they bring relief?  

But instead, our Republican colleagues, by their silence, are assenting to a lawsuit that would kick tens of millions of people off insurance.

I ask President Trump, Senator McConnell, and our Republican colleagues: What’s your plan to protect people with pre-existing conditions? Republicans say over and over again that they support keeping safeguards for pre-existing conditions.

But instead, they are supporting this lawsuit, or by their silence, assenting to their party’s president, a lawsuit that completely wipes the protections for pre-existing conditions away.

The American people deserve answers, because President Trump insisted yesterday that he has, quote “a plan that is far better than Obamacare.” We all know that is not true. He just talks off the top of his head. He said it at the lunch. Well, President Trump, what is your plan that’s better than Obamacare? You may not have all the details, but give us the main points. When you’re president, you have a responsibility, as people’s lives are at stake. They need healthcare. To not simply say we have a better plan and file a lawsuit which gets rid of the existing plans, and give people no inclination, not even a clue as to what that plan is.

Now why is this? Why is this happening? Well one, we know that President Trump has no fidelity to issues. He talks off the top of his head. He doesn’t know what the issues are all about. He’s the least informed president we’ve ever had in American history about issues. He just says what he thinks sounds nice at the moment. But then his administration does the hard-right thing, all the time – the extreme thing that’s in the narrow special interest’s interest, but not in the American people’s.

President Trump’s actual administration seems to be far to right, even of the mainstream of the Republican Party. Why does that happen? Well, here’s one reason. As was reported last night, Mick Mulvaney, who is now the Chief of Staff, was Head of OMB, and still sort of has a lot of say over that agency –it was reported last night that it was Mulvaney, against the advice of others, who convinced President Trump to take this radical position on health care.

So we all know who is holding the strings, who’s putting in President Trump’s head these hard-right ideas, which his administration continually effectuates and almost never backs off from. We now seem to be living in the Mick Mulvaney administration.

This is the same person who said “we need to end Medicare as we know it.” That, Mr. President, should send a chill down every American’s spine. Let me repeat that again. The Mick Mulvaney administration, in which President Trump is a willing follower, if you will, says we should end Medicare as we know it. Do Americans believe that? Nope. Do Republicans believe that? Not most of them.

But this man, Mulvaney – not elected – puts ideas in President Trump’s head and that’s what President Trump does. So make no mistake about it. The ultimate responsibility is President Trump’s. But when you wonder why the words the president says so differ from so many administration policies, and it’s the policies that are hurting Americans…the reason is Mulvaney.

So here is what the Mulvaney administration looks like:

  • Extreme budget cuts to the programs that middle class families depend on.
  • Cuts to the department of Education, transportation, and science. Severe cuts.
  • Severe cuts to the EPA.
  • Cuts to programs that help those most in need—SNAP.
  • Cutting Medicare faster.
  • And repeated Government Shutdowns!

Yesterday it was reported the administration is considering no more Fannie and Freddie. No more help for the middle class to buy a home. Another great Mulvaney idea.

Mick Mulvaney was one of the five most hard-right people in the House of Representatives, one of the authors of the previous shutdown. His views are far, far away from the average American. And Donald Trump, who gets full blame for Mulvaney’s ideas because he’s enacting them, seems to be following him lock, stock, and barrel.

If the president actually campaigned in 2016 on these Mulvaney ideas, he would’ve been roundly defeated. If he goes to Michigan tonight, and if he talks about these Mulvaney ideas, he’d get booed even by his own supporters. But he enacts the Mulvaney ideas. His Justice Department is now suing to get rid of health care, something Mulvaney has always advocated for.

President Trump: your administration is now the Mulvaney administration and that should terrify every single American. It should terrify any thoughtful Republican Senator. Make no mistake about it. Donald Trump’s hard-right administration, which so hurts the middle class and so helps the narrow, wealthy, special, and corporate interests - the brainchild of many of these ideas comes from Mr. Mulvaney. He puts it into the cypher of Donald Trump. Donald Trump enacts it. And the American people suffer.

On Puerto Rico, it has been eighteen months since Hurricane Maria and Hurricane Irma devastated the people of Puerto Rico and the surrounding islands.

These were extraordinary disasters that required an extraordinary response—but President Trump has hardheartedly said that the island of Puerto Rico has received too much aid. He complained said that the US Government has already given them $91 Billion in relief.

Mr. President—stop making up your own facts! $90 Billion is the amount of damage these storms caused! The people of Puerto Rico are suffering, and they have received a sliver of the funding they need. It is hard to fathom the depths of cruelty that it takes for the president to treat the people of Puerto Rico this way. They are American citizens.

Democrats have taken action. The House passed a comprehensive disaster bill two months ago. It would have provided aid to Puerto Rico, and the other states that were hurt. We want to help all those states. That is what American’s do. But Donald Trump has told our senate Republicans “no aid for Puerto Rico”. Instead of standing up and saying that’s wrong, that’s not fair, they seem to be going along.

This is shameful.

We have an opportunity to change that by making fixes to the disaster bill currently on the floor. I would tell our Republican friends – we want to help people in the states where there is flooding in the middle-west, where there is wildfires in the west, where there is draughts. But the bill that they are trying to pass here is never going to pass the House. They know that. To get disaster aid for the country, well needed, in so many places, our Republican friends are going to have to tell Donald Trump his cold, cruel-hearted, and divisive policy of not letting any of the aid that has already been allocated to Puerto Rico to be distributed there, must fall.

Finally, Mueller. One final matter: yesterday, for the second time this week, Leader McConnell blocked our request made by the Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee, Dianne Feinstein, to make public the full report authored by Special Counsel Mueller.

I want to thank Senator Feinstein, for making that request yesterday and for standing up for transparency.

As Senator Feinstein said, a four page summary from a political appointee is hardly a sufficient substitute for Special Counsel Mueller’s two-year investigation.

There were reports this morning, that the Mueller report is over 300 pages. All we have gotten is a four page summary by someone appointed by the administration who before he took office felt the president could almost never be called for obstruction of justice, one of the main parts of the Mueller investigation.

For Mr. Barr to quickly issue a four page report in his attempt to try to exonerate Mr. Trump, and now the delay the release of an over three hundred page report written by Mueller so the American people and we Senators and Congressman can see what was written, has too much of the odor of political expediency to help the man who appointed him, President Trump.

The American people have a right to know the full scope of the facts behind Russia’s interference in our election. The American people have a right to make their own conclusions about actions taken by this administration. The American people deserve to have full confidence in the integrity of our system and in the impartiality of the rule of law. And only the full release of the report can affirm that.

What I am saying here should not be controversial – in the House it passed 420-0 in the resolution to make the full report public, voted for by such partisan defenders of the president like Representative Jordan and Representative Meadows.

And transparency we all know is all the more important because the Attorney General has made no secret of his antipathy towards this investigation and appears intent on holding the report secret for as long as possible. I guess his hope is let the dust settle and then no one will pay attention. Well he is wrong about that. He is only prolonging this thing.

Remember, this Attorney General made clear that he was hostile to the Special Counsel, and opposed to Mueller’s inquiry into obstruction of justice. And then he opines about it two days later without showing anybody any backing. That is so wrong.

According to press reports in his phone call yesterday with Chairman Nadler, Mr. Barr would not commit to releasing the whole report at any time. He would not commit to a date.  He wasn’t even willing to disclose how many pages are in the Special Counsel’s report – as if that were some kind of state secret. As I said, since that conversation there were reports that it’s over three hundred pages and if it is, it is just disgraceful for Mr. Barr was able to read through it and summarize it in 48 hours, to say now he can’t release it because he is busy culling it.

The administration, the Attorney General, must end the stalling and the secrecy. It is not going to be a happy opening chapter for the Attorney General when history looks back upon what he has done. We should make the report public now.