Majority Leader Schumer Floor Remarks On Confirmation Of Denis McDonough As VA Secretary And The Importance Of Continuing Work On Cabinet Nominees And COVID Relief

February 8, 2021

Washington, D.C.   Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floorsaying the Senate will continue its work on President Biden’s cabinet nominees and COVID relief along with the impeachment trial. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

The Senate is steadily confirming members of President Biden’s cabinet and other key administration officials. In a few hours, we will add one more to the list when the Senate confirms Denis McDonough to serve as Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

Under President Obama, Mr. McDonough was a member of the National Security Council and the White House Chief of Staff. He was a regular face at Walter Reed and a frequent visitor of our troops deployed abroad.

The VA has one of the most sacred missions of all our agencies, deriving its motto from President Lincoln’s second inaugural address: “to care for those who shall have borne the battle.” But the task of achieving that mission is one of organization, institutional know-how, and administrative troubleshooting. I am confident that Mr. McDonough’s decades of experience at the highest levels of government make him well-qualified to take on the job.

Even as Senators prepare this week to sit as a court of impeachment, the Senate will continue its work on other responsibilities.

Committees will continue to process nominations, including the president’s nominees to lead the EPA, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Labor, and the Office of Management and Budget. And at the same time, committees will continue pressing the work of addressing the COVID crisis.

Last week, in the early hours of Friday morning, the Senate passed a budget resolution that will pave the way for President Biden’s American Rescue Plan. As promised, the Senate held an open, bipartisan, and vigorous amendment process. Several bipartisan amendments passed with overwhelming majorities and were added to the resolution. The fact that the debate went all night—and only concluded at around 5:30 in the morning—is a testament to the vigor of the amendment process, which again, I know was bipartisan. The first amendment, in fact, a very important one—by the Senator from Arizona, Ms. Sinema, and the Senator from Mississippi, Mr. Wicker—helped our restaurant industry and it was bipartisan.

Now our Senate committees have instructions to begin crafting legislation to rescue our country from COVID-19, to speed vaccine distribution, provide a lifeline to small businesses, help schools reopen safely, save the jobs of teachers, firefighters and other public employees, and support every American who is struggling to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads.

This important, historic work will give hundreds of millions of Americans the relief they need, while getting our country back to normal as quickly as possible.

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