Majority Leader Schumer Floor Remarks On The Need To Provide Emergency Assistance To Support The People Of Ukraine And Fund Our Continued COVID Response

May 2, 2022

Washington, D.C.   Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the need for the Senate to approve new assistance to support the Ukrainian people as they continue their fight against Putin’s illegal war and to support our ongoing COVID response. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks:

Now, over the weekend Speaker Pelosi led a delegation of House members to Ukraine and met with President Zelenskyy to pledge our country’s support for the Ukrainian people.

We have the obligation to demonstrate that support by approving another round of Ukrainian emergency funding. Now that President Biden has made a formal request for $33 billion, our appropriators are hard at work turning that request into legislation. It is my hope that a bipartisan agreement can be reached very soon and that the Senate can begin processing this aid package on the floor as early as next week.

Quickly approving this emergency funding for Ukraine is essential to helping the people of Ukraine in their fight against Russia.

Again, I expect both sides to work quickly, decisively, and with bipartisan cooperation to get this aid out the door and on to the President’s desk, just as we did for the first round of aid back in March.

I will also work to include a provision that arms the federal government will the tools needed to liquidate assets the U.S. seized from Russian Oligarchs, such as yachts, mansions, private jets, art collections, and the like. Specifically, the Senate should expand existing forfeiture laws that will turn up the heat on these corrupt individuals, who made their ill-gotten gains from the vicious, evil, dictatorial Vladimir Putin.

We need to go after these crooked oligarchs. They have gotten rich off Putin’s regime. Their ill-gotten gains should have no safe refuge within the United States, and it would be great if the proceeds from these assets would be used to support the Ukrainian people. I think that’s the right way to go, and I will work to see that the Senate acts in this space.

Two months into the war, it’s clear that support from the United States and our allies has been essential in helping Ukraine resist Russia’s invasion. But the bloodshed is very likely far from over and the cost borne by the Ukrainian people have been immense. According to the UN, at least 3,000 civilians have been killed since the start of the war, and the true number is unfortunately, sadly, far higher than that in all likelihood.

The United States thus has a moral obligation to give the Ukrainian people the tools they need for as long as they need them: more money for javelins, stingers, howitzers, Switchblade unmanned aerial munitions, and much more.

And make no mistake, the Senate will move swiftly to get an emergency funding package passed and sent to the President’s desk.

Now in addition to providing emergency funding to Ukraine, the Senate must also keep prioritizing another round of funds to fight COVID and keep our families safe.

On Ukraine funding and COVID funding, Republican obstruction will not serve the American people. Instead of threatening political games I urge Senate Republicans to work with us to get moving on COVID funding A-S-A-P.

Over the past few months, the United States has made unmistakable progress in getting life closer to normal than at any other point since the spring of 2020. But as we all know, all it takes is another nasty variant to force new closures of our schools, our businesses, our churches, our communities.

Meanwhile, every day that we don’t act to pass new COVID funding is another day that other nations place orders on the remaining supply of vaccines, of testing, and of particular therapeutics.

God forbid another variant begins spreading across the country and we don’t have the tools—the medicines, the vaccines, the testing—in place to respond, simply because our Republican friends have blocked our ability to fund now the ability to buy those materials, those vaccines, those therapeutics, and keep them on the ready if and when a new variant hits.

If Republicans continue to obstruct more funding, then a few months from now we could be in the terrible situation of not having enough vaccines to save lives, enough testing to monitor disease, and enough therapeutics to reduce the severity of cases of COVID when they come.

Let me say that one more time: if Republicans continue to obstruct more funding now, then a few months from now we could be in the terrible situation of not having vaccines to save lives, testing to monitor the disease, and therapeutics to treat the disease.

I don’t want to have to read that back in someone’s face three months later. I would rather have the funding now. That’s what most Americans want. Please stop obstructing.

We don’t need to go down that path; by now we have tools and know-how to prevent closures of schools and of stores and of everything else in case another variant makes its unwelcome arrival.

Now what we need is the funding to actually purchase the tools—they’ve been developed by American ingenuity, American companies, but other countries are buying them because we ridiculously are not funding them because of obstruction across the aisle. Political objectives are getting in the way of the health, vitality, and return to normal of the American people. We need to actually purchase these tools now, so that we are ready.

Republicans should work with Democrats to pass another COVID funding bill A-S-A-P. It not really much harder than that.