Majority Leader Schumer Floor Remarks On Making Progress On Infrastructure Legislation On Two Tracks

July 15, 2021

Washington, D.C.   Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding progress being made on infrastructure legislation on two tracks. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

Every Senator from every state has witnessed the hollowing out of the middle class over the past few decades. Globalization and technology have changed the way that Americans work and compete; productivity increased, but wages for the bottom 70% have stagnated in this century, in these 20 years; income inequality spiked as wealth agglomerated to the top. The financial crisis and the COVID pandemic heaped additional hardship on middle-class families that were already falling behind.

The changes in the world—the swirling changes, economic and social—have made it harder to stay in the middle class, have made it harder to get to the middle class.

We Democrats feel an obligation to make it easier for those in the middle class to enjoy that middle-class life and stay there. And for those struggling to get into the middle class, to have those ladders so they can climb up to get there.

These are exciting and fundamental times to be here in the Senate.

In short, we have a lot to do in order to restore the fundamental American promise of opportunity and economic mobility. The faith that, through hard work, any American can build a better life for themselves, their families, their children and then pass on even greater opportunity to their children.

That's the American dream. It's been fading, and that's allowed demagoguery and nastiness and divisiveness to become too great a part of our politics. We want to restore that sunny optimism that Americans have always had. And that's why we're so intent on moving forward this month.

The idea—the idea that Americans can build a better life for themselves and pass greater opportunity to their children—is at the heart of what Democrats are trying to achieve this year through the American Jobs and Families Plan. Helping middle-class families stay in the middle class and breathe easier; helping poorer Americans climb that ladder to get there.

Nothing, nothing, will do more to advance that goal than the bill we’re working on this year.

The budget resolution agreed to by Democrats on the Budget Committee this week is the first step down a long road towards enacting a transformational change in our economy.

It will allow us to pass the most significant legislation to expand support for American families since the era of the New Deal and the Great Society.

If not quite Rooseveltian in scope, it is certainly near-Rooseveltian. It's a dramatic change to help average families do better.

The best way to understand the emerging legislation is in three broad categories: jobs, which will come through major infrastructure investments, families, and climate.

We are going to create thousands upon thousands of good-paying jobs by investing in infrastructure, and the training and apprenticeships that will help more Americans—including many of those who have been left out—get those jobs.

We are going to expand and strengthen programs that support American families and introduce new ones, like paid family leave and a robust expansion of Medicare to cover vision, dental, and hearing. I salute Senator Sanders for putting it on the map and now making it a real possibility to happen.

And we are going to act on climate in a bold and comprehensive way, to reduce emissions, make our infrastructure more resilient, and create the green jobs of the future to meet the president's goals of an 80% reduction in dirty carbon that goes into energy production, and a 50% overall reduction in the carbon we send to the atmosphere.

When Republicans held the majority in the Senate, unfortunately, their signature legislative achievement was a massive tax break for corporations and the wealthy. From one report I read, the top 1% got 83% of the benefits when the Republicans had power.

What a difference when Democrats are in power. You know what the top 1% got in the A.R.P. bill? Zero, nada, nothing. God bless them. They're doing great. They don't need it.

Democrats, instead, are strengthening the backbone of the middle class, and that’s what we’re going to do in this jobs and families plan. American workers, American families, are going to benefit while we address the generational challenge of climate change.

And as I have said from the start: the two tracks of infrastructure are going to move in tandem. We’re making good progress on both tracks. We in the Democratic Caucus heard from the president yesterday on the budget resolution. The meeting was wonderful. The excitement was palpable. The opportunity to do so much good for so many American families was in the air in that meeting. It was exciting. And, as that happened, the bipartisan working groups had many meetings on the bipartisan infrastructure framework as well.

Today I am announcing that I intend to file cloture on the vehicle for a bipartisan infrastructure bill on Monday of next week.

Senators will have until Wednesday of next week before the initial vote on cloture on the motion to proceed.

Everyone has been having productive conversations and it’s important to keep the two-track process moving. All parties involved in the bipartisan infrastructure bill talks must now finalize their agreement so that the Senate can begin considering that legislation next week.

And I am setting the same deadline—next Wednesday—for the entire Senate Democratic caucus to agree to move forward on the Budget Resolution with reconciliation instructions.

The time has come to make progress and we will. We must.