At Press Conference In NYC, Schumer Urges Senator McConnell To Immediately Pass House-Passed Coronavirus Legislation As Is

March 14, 2020

New York, NY – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today delivered the following remarks at a press conference in New York City to discuss the House-Passed Families First Coronavirus Response Act and urge Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to pass the bill as is immediately in the Senate. Senator McConnell recessed the Senate for the weekend before the House passed this much-needed legislation. 

We just heard of the first death here in New York.

This virus, the coronavirus, while it may not look evil but it’s evil. It’s causing huge amounts of sickness, worry, and economic hardship throughout American and throughout New York State. There’s a crisis in this country and we have to move quickly.

So, I’m glad that Congress moved quickly last night and passed a proposal that would really help. And it’s a proposal aimed at the people who really need help.  It’s not taking money in an airplane and throwing it out and hoping a few dollars land on the people who need help. It’s directly aimed at them.

And here’s what the proposal, which I worked very closely with Speaker Nancy Pelosi on, is.

It’s free testing for coronavirus. If you don’t have the money for a test and you walk around with the virus that’s very bad for everybody.

It strengthens food assistance for the elderly who need help and the school kids who aren’t getting school lunches.

It safeguards the Medicaid benefits, that’s FMAP. So this will help all the states and localities with benefits.

It also enhances unemployment aid. So if you lose your job you can get the aid quickly and the criteria can be loosened so many more people can get it.

Finally, it establishes paid leave. There's 14 days of sick leave, you get full payment. And three months of family leave if you are staying, and if this applies to you if you're sick, to you if you have to stay home because a loved one is sick, or because your kid is not in school and someone has to stay home to be with the kids.

So it goes for as long as three months. The first two weeks are full payment the next are two thirds and companies will get reimbursed when they lay this out for people.

This is an important plan and I'm so glad that Congress came together.

Now despite Donald Trump underplaying the crisis, pointing fingers of blame almost irrationally, not knowing the facts, not even stating the truth, he had to go along with what Congress wanted.

When the crisis first occurred he wanted only $2 billion to solve it in the initial package for vaccines and for the things that our health agencies at the federal level needed I called for $8.5 billion.

We voted, and was signed into law $8.3 billion, very close to what we asked for. Five days ago, I wrote to the president and said call a national emergency. He did it yesterday.

And maybe most importantly, these are the six things that last Sunday Speaker Nancy Pelosi and I said are needed and that is what is in the package.

So, the bottom line is Congress is leading the way. Speaker Pelosi and I and so many others in the New York area, Nita Lowey and the New York delegation have said, focus on the people who need help, and do it in a very healthy, strong way. And that's what's happening. Despite Donald Trump's ignoring the problem, pointing fingers of blame, etc., at the end of the day he signed what we wanted.

Now, what's in the future.

First, Leader McConnell with the crisis we have, as the death today in New York shows, Leader McConnell should never have skipped town should never have let the Senate recess. We should have passed this bill late last night just as the House did. Fortunately, we are coming back Monday and Leader McConnell and our friends on the Republican side should pass the bill as is. It has broad support, got the support of a majority of Democrats and Republicans in the House.

We don't need – everyone is going to have new ideas but that will slow things down. Then the bill will have to go back to the House. We have to act immediately, and this aid is needed immediately.

So, I would say to Leader McConnell, pass the bill as is.

If people have ideas of how to do other things and other amendments, we're going to have new legislation down the road, but pass this now. Make up for the fact that you skipped town Friday night, when we should have been here. The House was still debating the bill when that had happened.