Majority Leader Schumer Floor Remarks On Moving Forward COVID Relief Legislation And Announcing Plans To Confirm President Biden’s Cabinet Nominees

February 22, 2021

Washington, D.C.   Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the Senate continuing to move toward passing the much-needed COVID relief bill before the expiration of unemployment insurance benefits and laying out Senate action to confirm President Biden’s cabinet nominees this week including Jennifer Granholm to serve as the Secretary of Energy and Dr. Miguel Cardona to serve as the Secretary of Education. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

It has been only a month since President Biden took the oath of office and Democrats assumed the majority in the Senate, but we have already taken major steps to repair and rebuild our country.

I said this chamber would begin its work by accomplishing three immediate tasks: confirming President Biden’s nominees, addressing the COVID pandemic with bold legislation, and conducting a fair and honest impeachment trial of Donald Trump.

The Senate has made steady progress on all three.

A little over a week ago, we concluded the second impeachment trial of Donald Trump. The House managers presented a powerful, harrowing reconstruction of the former president’s role in inciting an attack against our democracy—the greatest offense ever, ever, committed by a president against our nation. Despite the final verdict of this chamber, Donald Trump deserves to be convicted – and I believe he will be convicted – in the court of public opinion. History will judge Mr. Trump harshly, deservedly so, and everyone who condoned the dangerous final acts of his presidency will live with that in history as well, and live rather dishonorably.

Even during the impeachment trial, the Senate advanced the ball on the other two priorities I mentioned. Our committees conducted several confirmation hearings and worked closely with their House colleagues to draft COVID relief legislation. That process is ongoing among Senate members as well as those in the House. Now that the trial is complete, were going to move forward on both. 

Democrats remain hard at work preparing the desperately-needed COVID-relief bill, which is on track to go to the president’s desk before the March 14th expiration of Unemployment Insurance benefits. And starting this evening, the Senate will continue the process of confirming President Biden’s nominees with a vote on Linda Thomas-Greenfield to serve as the next UN Ambassador.

Ms. Thomas-Greenfield has spent three decades in the US Foreign Service. She is exceptionally qualified—and that was reflected in the bipartisan support she received from the Foreign Relations committee.

If confirmed, she will assume the role of UN ambassador at a time when the nations of the world must deepen their cooperation in the fight against COVID-19 and the fight against climate change, among other critical priorities. She will have no time to waste in rebuilding America’s reputation and reasserting the first instrument of American power: diplomacy. I look forward to voting in favor her nomination.

After that, the Senate will immediately proceed to the nomination of Tom Vilsack to serve as Secretary of Agriculture.

Mr. Vilsack is no stranger to the Senate confirmation process or to the Department of Agriculture, having served as its Secretary under President Obama. The former governor of Iowa has made a career out of caring for and supporting our nation’s farmers. Mr. Vilsack was approved by the Agriculture Committee by a unanimous vote. I expect that he will receive the same bipartisan reception by the full Senate. 

For the rest of the week, we will continue to process members of the President’s Cabinet: first, Jennifer Granholm to serve as the Secretary of Energy; second, Dr. Miguel Cardona to serve as the Secretary of Education. Both nominees have been advanced by the respective committees with bipartisan votes—a pattern this week.

And at a time when our nation is gripped by a once-in-a-century crisis, the President deserves to have his nominees approved quickly by this chamber so they can immediately get to work healing our great country.

###