Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor on the imminent need to pass a bipartisan national security supplemental package to provide crucial aid to aid our allies and protect our national security. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:
Later today, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will address Senators through a secure video at our classified briefing on the war in Ukraine.
This will be at least the third time President Zelenskyy has addressed Senators since the beginning of the war. The last time he spoke to us, his message was direct and unsparing: without more aid from Congress, Ukraine does not have the means to defeat Vladimir Putin.
Without more aid from Congress, Ukraine may fall. Democracy in Europe will be imperiled. And those who think Vladimir Putin will stop merely at Ukraine willfully ignore the clear and unmistakable warnings of history.
It is therefore urgent for the Senate to pass a security supplemental. Last night, I filed cloture on a motion to proceed to a vehicle the Senate can use as a supplemental package. We will have our first vote on this vehicle Wednesday in the afternoon.
I urge my colleagues to think about what’s at stake in this moment in history. I implore them to do what’s necessary to protect America’s security.
If we allow Vladimir Putin to march through Europe, if we abandon Ukraine in its hour of need, it will make the world a more hostile place for democracy and Western values.
It will send a message to the world that America is not up to the task of protecting democracy and Western values in this century.
It will be a gift to the Chinese Communist Party, to the regime in Iran, to adversaries around the world who want nothing more than to see our demise. The Ukrainians are fighting valiantly. They haven't asked for American troops, with concomitant casualties and pain that will cause. All they need is adequate weaponry. How can we turn them down?
There is only one right answer. We must do what America has always done through her history: defend democracy, stand up to autocratic thugs like Vladimir Putin, and put our adversaries on notice that America’s resolve will not falter.
Now, the Senate’s supplemental package remains on hold because our Republican colleagues have insisted that they need an immigration proposal to pass. While immigration is important, it is a separate issue from foreign aid to Ukraine and Israel and humanitarian aid to Gaza and the Indo-Pacific. It’s a difficult issue we’ve debated and never come to a conclusion on for decades. It is extraneous to this debate. Some of our Republican leaders say, well, that's what the public wants. Yes, the public wants border, but it's unrelated to Ukraine.
Our Republican friends are saying they’ll defend democracy only at a price unacceptable to Democrats, and the price is forcing Congress to accept radical immigration policies that come straight from Donald Trump. One Republican Senator said yesterday, listen to this, he said “This is not a traditional negotiation, where we expect to come up with a bipartisan compromise on the border. This is a price that has to be paid in order to get the supplemental.” Why are we sitting down and talking if there's never going to be a compromise?
What that Republican Senator said is the textbook definition of hostage taking.
I want to be clear. First, Democrats want to deal with the problems of immigration and the border. We've been trying for years. But I also want to be clear: if Republicans had not brought up immigration – an important but separate and partisan issue that has been debated for decades – Ukraine funding would not be in danger right now. This mess was created entirely by hard-right Republicans, and alarmingly, Republican leadership has gotten behind them. And most of those hard-right Republicans, who say we must have border, don't want to vote for aid for Ukraine in any case.
If funding for Ukraine fails, it will not be a bipartisan failure. It will be a failure solely caused by the Republican party, and the Republican leadership, because it was the decision of that Republican leadership – pushed by the hard right, many of whom want Ukraine to fail – to make border a precondition to supporting Ukraine.
Let me say that again, because the logic is perfectly clear and irrefutable: if funding for Ukraine fails, the failure will solely be on the Republican party, because it was the decision of the Republican leadership – pushed by the hard right, many of whom want Ukraine to fail – to make border a precondition to supporting Ukraine.
Now, even though we warned Republicans about the dangers of injecting partisan border issues – which threaten to derail aid to Ukraine – we sat down at the negotiating table in good faith. We said from the get-go we’d be willing to compromise. Everyone would like to come to a compromise on border – bipartisan compromise, a real compromise – not one side demanding everything, as that Republican Senator said.
For three weeks, Democrats have tried to be reasonable with our Republican colleagues, to see if we can find some common ground on immigration.
Some days, these negotiations looked promising. We have been more than willing to show compromise.
But sadly, each time we try to meet Republicans at the middle, they have been moving the goal posts back, proposing nasty policies like indefinite detention for asylum seekers and sweeping powers to shut down our entire immigration system, which has been a hallmark of America for centuries. After Speaker Johnson said last week that only policies along the lines of H.R. 2 can make it through the House, Republican negotiators here in the Senate gave up even pretending to show compromise.
That is why negotiations broke off Friday night: Republicans pulled the goal posts way back and proposed many items plucked directly from H.R. 2, or very similar to it. The same H.R. 2 that got not a single Democratic vote here in the Senate, the same H.R. 2 that couldn't even pass on the House floor when it's attached to Ukraine, because it needs Democratic votes to pass it, because thirty Republican Congress members won't vote for any Ukraine aid.
So, despite Democrats’ best efforts, negotiations have been going in circles.
Look, we want to find a way to solve immigration with our Republican colleagues. We know this is an important issue, we have many members who represent border states and border communities.
But if Republicans are holding up aid to Ukraine because they want us to work with them on border, the onus is on them to present to us a realistic, bipartisan proposal that can actually pass the Senate with aid to Ukraine as well.
And we need a bipartisan proposal that can get broad support of Democrats, not just one or two while the rest of us are strongly in opposition.
Again: if Republicans want to bring up immigration right now, right in the middle of trying to pass aid to Ukraine and other issues, the onus is on them to present serious, bipartisan proposals that can get broad support from Democrats, not just one or two Democrats.
And if Republicans are unable to produce a broadly bipartisan immigration proposal, they should not block aid to Ukraine in response. They should not be resorting to hostage taking, as the Senator from Texas seems to be admitting. That would be madness, utter madness. It would be an insult to our Ukrainian friends who are fighting for their lives against Russian autocracy. And it could go down as a major turning point where the West didn't live up to its responsibilities and things turned away from our democracies and our values and towards autocracy.
Ronald Reagan would be rolling in his grave – rolling in his grave – if he saw his own party let Vladimir Putin roll through Europe.
So, once again, I urge my Republican colleagues to think carefully about what’s at stake with this week’s vote. What we do now will reverberate across the world for years and decades to come.
And history – history – will render harsh judgment on those who abandoned democracy for Donald Trump’s extreme immigration policies.