Majority Leader Schumer Floor Remarks On The Fiscal Year 2022 Budget Resolution And New IPCC Climate Change ReportAugust 9, 2021
Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the fiscal year 2022 budget resolution with reconciliation instructions and the alarming new IPCC climate report that warns that only a small window remains to “prevent the most harrowing future.” Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:
Now, all summer, I have spoken about how the Senate would proceed along “two tracks” when it came to infrastructure: the bipartisan bill we’ll vote on tomorrow, as well as a budget reconciliation bill that will allow Democrats to make historic investments in American jobs, American families, and efforts to reverse climate change.
In order to achieve such an ambitious legislative effort, I laid out two clear goals for this summer work period: pass the bipartisan bill, and a budget resolution to set up the second track of our process before we leave for August recess. Many folks called that two-track process unrealistic; many others said it’s unachievable on such a short timeline and in such a slow-moving chamber. But we have managed to steer two trains at the same time. There have been some bumps. There have been some delays. But the Senate is on track to finish both tracks.
Earlier this summer, I suggested the two-track strategy to President Biden and Speaker Pelosi. We all agreed it was the best way to move forward and we are working in concert to make it happen.
This morning, Senate Democrats unveiled our budget resolution with reconciliation instructions, which is the first step in unlocking the legislative process for a budget reconciliation bill later this year. Several members – many members – had a hand in crafting the package, and we worked closely with our committee chairs, but I want to especially thank the Chair of the Budget Committee, Senator Sanders. He kept his nose to the grindstone and led our caucus on the budget. He always keeps the thoughts and needs of American workers and families at the top of his mind. As a result, the Democratic budget will be the most significant legislation for American families since the era of the New Deal and the Great Society. It is big, bold change – the kind of change America thirsts for.
I want to thank the other members of the Budget Committee, like Senator Warner, who worked closely with the White House and Chairman Sanders to develop the framework, and Senators Murray, Wyden, Stabenow, Whitehouse, Merkley, Kaine, Van Hollen, Luján and Padilla, who came together—even though each had different views on different issues—to produce this result. And a great result it is.
I want American families to understand what this legislation will mean for them. Four simple things to keep in mind, and I’m borrowing Senator Stabenow’s chart for this:
The Democratic budget will lower costs for Americans; cut taxes for American families; create millions of jobs while tackling the climate crisis; and be paid for by the wealthy paying their fair share.
These are four goals. The American people support every one of them overwhelmingly.
And in all phases, we will concentrate on communities that have too often been neglected, including communities of color and Native Americans.
By making education, health care, child care, and housing more affordable, we can give tens of millions of families a leg up by making sure we can get our children out of poverty.
We can provide ladders to families that haven’t had them before and help them climb into the middle class. Many of the policies we’re proposing were in President Biden’s American Jobs and Families Plan, but some go beyond, like expanding Medicare to cover dental, vision, and hearing benefits—something that was left out of Medicare at the beginning and it never should’ve been, and we can rectify it now.
By cutting taxes for tens of millions of American families, we can expand opportunity and make it easier for parents to pass on a better life to their children and their grandchildren.
By making further investments in infrastructure, we can create tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs.
And by finally tackling climate change, we can spare our country and our planet the most devastating effects of global warming. Just this morning, a major new report from climate scientists at the United Nations concluded that the nations of the world have only a small window to “prevent the most harrowing future,” in the words of the New York Times.
Without immediate and bold action, we are staring down ever-worsening floods and heat waves, droughts and sea-level rise. The future of our planet looks bleak until we do something, right now. And the budget reconciliation bill will do more to combat climate change than any legislation—ever—in the history of the Senate. That is a promise.
And while my Republican colleagues regurgitate the same tired talking points about a “Democratic spending spree” – let me remind America that we plan to pay for this package by making the wealthy pay their fair share. When our Republican friends held the majority in this chamber, they chose to use the same process Democrats are using now—budget reconciliation—to give corporations and the wealthy a massive tax break. At a time of egregious income inequality, the former Republican majority rammed through a bill where 83% of the benefits went to the top 1%. 83% of the benefits.
I have nothing against the wealthy. God bless ‘em. They’re doing fine already. But it’s time to cut taxes for American families, middle class families, not multinational corporations. To make our tax code more progressive and more fair. That’s what Democrats are going to do. Under this plan, there will be no tax increases on small businesses or American families making under $400,000.
We’re going to help small businesses create many, many, many jobs. We’re going to give American families a fair shot. We’re going to tell middle class families that we will make it easier for you to stay there with your increasing costs for things like child care and school, college, and so much else.
We are going to tell poorer families we will make it easier for you to climb into the middle class with things like the Child Tax Credit, and better health care, and so much more.
And we are going to confront the generational challenge of climate change head on. We are not flinching, we are not wincing, we are going right at it. And as bad as COVID-19 was this year—and it was horrible—five or ten years from now every year climate change will make things worse and worse and worse, even worse than it was this year in COVID. Because climate change is such an overwhelming force that, unless we do something now, we may not be able to stop it down the road.
So, taking a step back: at its core, the Democratic budget is about restoring the middle class in the 21st Century and giving more Americans the opportunity to get there.
Unfortunately, the past twenty years in America has been a story of middle-class decline. We have all watched as globalization and technology transformed the way our economy works.
Industrial manufacturing jobs were shipped overseas. A global financial crisis cost Americans their homes and their wealth. Giant conglomerates wiped out Main Street businesses from Arizona to Arkansas, Michigan to Maine. The cost of raising a family in America—everything from child care to college tuition—has become exorbitant, even almost-unaffordable for those comfortable in the middle class. And now, after the worst pandemic in 100 years, American families are just starting to climb out of the rubble and look towards the future.
We want them to look towards that future with hope and with optimism, not with sourness and anger that we have seen throughout the land, exacerbated, played upon by the previous president.
What the future looks like in large part depends on what we do here now. These next few months are crucial for the future of our country, even for our democracy. What we need to do in Congress, is to give our workers, our businesses, our families a chance to prosper in a rapidly changing world.
A chance to have hope. A chance to restore that American Dream, which simply says if I work hard, I will be doing better ten years from now than I'm doing today, and my kids will be doing still better than me. When Americans lose that faith, lose that hope—that sunny American optimism that has been part of our character for centuries—bad things happen. Bad things happen to our democracy, to our relationships with one another, to just about everything.
The social contract in America relies on the fundamental promise of economic opportunity. The chance, through hard work, to do better for yourself and then give your children and grandchildren a better life than you had. That's what America is all about. That's what we are trying to restore and revivify here. When that promise is broken, when that American Dream is no longer shining brightly in the sky, when faith in economic opportunity evaporates, we are not the America we were meant to be. We are not optimistic and entrepreneurial and forward-looking. Instead we are bitter, and angry and backward-looking—and as a result, much more prone to the sway of demagogues like Donald Trump.
The divisions in our country and our politics today have their roots in the decline of economic mobility.
Now, the American people don’t expect one piece of legislation to solve all of our nation’s ills. No single law can do that. But we have to start in a bold, strong way, rebuilding the basic social contract for middle-class, American families and for everyone struggling to get there. A promise of equal opportunity and equality: helping middle-class Americans stay in the middle class. Building ladders to help others climb into that middle class.
At its core, that’s what this budget is all about. And we are going to take the first steps towards passing it very, very soon.