Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor on advancing a bipartisan package to fund the government, avert a shutdown, and support American families, workers, veterans, small businesses, and more. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:
As we speak, Democrats and Republicans are working on the final significant achievement of a truly significant two years in Congress: a yearlong funding bill to avert a shutdown and keep the government working well into the next fall.
Earlier this week, the appropriators released the text of the omnibus, a bill overflowing with good news: good news for our kids, our parents, our troops, our small businesses, and more. The Senate took the first step towards passing this bill last night, voting 70 to 25 to begin debate.
Note the margin: 70 to 25. That is a strong signal that both sides are keen to finish funding the government very soon.
We must finish our work before the deadline of Friday midnight, but in reality I hope we can vote on final passage much sooner than that, even as early as tonight. There is no reason for the Senate to wait, and plenty of reasons to move quickly before a potential blizzard makes travel hazardous for members, their staff, and families right before the Christmas season.
In an effort to reach final passage soon, both sides will continue negotiating a number of amendments that I hope we can begin voting on later today. But again, that’s going to require cooperation, so I urge my colleagues not to stand in the way of moving this process forward.
Nobody wants a shutdown. Nobody benefits from a shutdown. And so I hope nobody here will delay this process to fund government ASAP.
Now, as I said yesterday, this bipartisan package is chock-full of good news for our kids, our veterans, our small businesses, and even for our democracy.
For one, we will pass long-sought reforms to the Electoral Count Act, after a lot of hard work from Senators Manchin and Klobuchar and Collins and Blunt and many others.
The 117th Congress began under the shadow of a violent insurrection, so it is fitting that one of our final actions will be passing a bill safeguarding our elections from future dangers.
The omnibus also represents a major win for kids and parents across the country. It increases childcare assistance by 30%. Our childcare agencies are struggling. This 30% increase is a huge shot in the arm to help them. It is a massive boost for the tens of millions of families who can’t afford this basic necessity. We have a shortage of workers, one of the reasons being a lack of good child care. This helps alleviate that situation because moms and dads – who want to take care of their kids but have to go to work – can't go to work unless there's adequate and good child care.
We’re also taking a temporary program that helped kids eat in the summer during COVID and making it permanent, so parents won’t have to worry about their kids going hungry during the day when school isn’t in session.
I’m also proud that we got many of the best elements of the momnibus in this package. We’ll ensure new mothers on Medicaid and CHIP can have a full year of postpartum coverage. That’s a great breakthrough. We’re increasing funding to train nurses and health care workers, as well as beef up support for mental health services—which I fought for very hard.
Discrimination in maternal care and at birth is a real blot on our country, and the fact that people of color have higher rates of mortality is a disgrace. This goes a good way toward trying to rectify that blot on our country's pride.
There's also some other good stuff. At a time in which we are seeing a surge in union activity – because workers realize that to get adequate pay and adequate benefits, a union can help them – Democrats heeded the call and broke the nearly decade-long funding freeze on the NLRB.
The NRLB was one of the very few agencies that got no increase in funding for years and years, despite the increase in mission. It is a very important priority for Democrats and for working Americans because the NLRB is one of the most important pro-worker agencies, and it has been utterly starved for resources for about a decade.
So let me say it again: Kids, parents, veterans, nurses, workers: these are just a few of the beneficiaries of our bipartisan funding package, so there is every reason in the world for the Senate to finish its work as soon as possible.
No one got everything they wanted. That's how this works. But we got a lot of good things in there to help America.
I want to thank all my colleagues from both sides of the aisle for their work. Let’s finish the job today if possible.