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Majority Leader Schumer Floor Remarks On The First Year Of The 118th Congress And The Importance Of Rejecting MAGA Extremism In The New Year

Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor on the necessity of passing bipartisan legislation, while rejecting MAGA extremism. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

The first year of the 118th Congress has come to a close. It’s time to look ahead to the many challenges we face in the year ahead.

Never in recent memory has the contrast between the two parties been more obvious than in the past three years. Under Democratic majorities, we saw the most productive Congress in modern history, but under a Republican House majority this year, we saw a year marked by chaos, extremism, and paralysis.

There’s no question that divided government and MAGA extremism made legislating in 2023 very difficult. For much of the year, it was as if Donald Trump himself were running the show over in the House, making it exceedingly hard to get anything done.

But in a difficult year, Democrats did not abandon our promise to work to make life better for the American people.

This year, Democrats protected the historic wins we’ve gotten done in the 117th Congress: climate change legislation, prescription drug reform, CHIPS and Science, and so much more.

And I would remind the country that all but one of these major bills we passed and led in the Senate was done with bipartisan support. You need bipartisanship to get so much done. But we protected those historic wins.

Second, we worked all year to implement those wins effectively: new infrastructure projects, new factories, new good paying jobs. Across the country, manufacturing and job creation is surging. Communities long overlooked are getting a second chance. Seniors will be paying less for health care and prescription drugs. Rural people will be able to get broadband internet service for the first time. And after years of high costs, inflation has dramatically slowed down in the year since we passed the Inflation Reduction Act.

Third word. We have protected, we have implement, and third word is prevented.

Even with the MAGA Republican right wing majority running so much of the House, we prevented the worst things from happening.

We prevented the country from defaulting, which would have been a disaster.

We prevented – in both September and November – the government from shutting down. And in each case, the keyword was bipartisanship. We can't do any of these things without both parties cooperating, and I urge Speaker Johnson to understand that as we approach the January 19th deadline. Without bipartisanship, we will not get anything done. Embracing the hard-right philosophy is a path to nowhere, for not only the Republican party but for the House and the country.

Finally, in a difficult year, Democrats persevered. We protected, we implemented, we prevented, and we persevered. We persevered at every turn to work to get things done: we began our critical work on artificial intelligence, we pushed to outcompete the Chinese government, as we added even more historic and diverse judges to the federal bench.

This work will continue next year. There will be no easing into 2024; we will hit the ground running.

There is a lot that we must do – we must pass the supplemental and finish the job of properly funding our federal government.  

But we have made large progress in a bipartisan way on new parts of our agenda: insulin reform, getting everybody to pay no more than $35 a month; artificial intelligence, with the bipartisan gang of four holding some very, very elucidating insight forums and now we’re ready to start looking at legislation; outcompeting the Chinese government; passing SAFE Banking and cannabis reform; getting something done on railway safety; on online child privacy; and so much more. In each of these, we have laid some groundwork with bipartisan support. It won't be easy, but we want to get these things done in 2024.

The only way, though, we will get them done – just like the supplemental, just like with the government shutdown – is through bipartisan cooperation.

It was the very first thing I said at the beginning of this Congress: bipartisanship is essential in divided government. We saw that play out all year long.

Only through bipartisanship were we able avoid a catastrophic default, avoid a shutdown, make any progress on appropriations or anything of import.

We also saw what happens when one party – particularly in the House, not so much in the Senate – refuses to embrace bipartisanship. [This] House Majority is the most unproductive and dysfunctional in modern history. And what happened in the House, because of that dysfunctional majority, can be boiled down to three words: chaos, extremism, paralysis.

Donald Trump may not be in office, but his influence drove practically every major decision for the House Republicans at great cost to our country.

We saw MAGA extremists take the debt ceiling hostage to push an agenda that would have crashed the economy, raise costs, and kill millions of jobs.

We saw MAGA extremists hijack the appropriations process by adding poison pills restricting a woman’s right to choose and so much else.

We even saw MAGA extremists bring all of Congress to a grinding halt for more than a month, by expelling their own speaker, even as crises raged in Europe and the Middle East. Shameful.

Unfortunately, the dark cloud of Donald Trump hovers, looms over Senate and House Republicans, and it's something I hope they will resist because he is no good for the country, no good for their party.

MAGA Republicans are incapable of governing, plain and simple. Americans will not forget that when they head to the polls next year.

So, in conclusion, as we look to a new year, I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to work together. I urge my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to resist MAGA extremism that led their side to so much catastrophe. I urge Speaker Johnson not let the thirty-or-so hard right extremists keep running the show in the House, as they did for too much of this year.

It is not going to get any easier. The challenges we face remain great. But it is my hope – my earnest and fervent hope because I love this country, I love this country – that the experience of this year shows our colleagues on the other side that embracing MAGA is a recipe for failure.

There will be a lot at stake when we return in 2024. If we embrace bipartisanship, I am confident we will succeed.