Majority Leader Schumer Floor Remarks On The Republican Obstruction Of Bipartisan COVID Public Health Funding Legislation

April 6, 2022

Washington, D.C.   Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate regarding the Republican filibuster of bipartisan COVID relief legislation that would provide critical funding for more vaccines, more testing, and more lifesaving therapeutics. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here: 

Yesterday was truly a sorry sight here on the Senate floor: Senate Republicans, down to the last member, blocked critical funding for more vaccines, more testing, more lifesaving therapeutics that our country needs to protect against the dangers of future COVID variants.

The proposal we had before the Senate was exceedingly reasonable, carefully negotiated, and desperately needed, but Senate Republicans blocked a mere debate on COVID aid knowing full well the consequences for the American people.

Knowing the consequences, Republicans said no to merely debating more money for booster shots and vaccinations and research into future treatments.

Knowing the consequences, Republicans said no to merely debating more testing.

Knowing the consequences, Republicans said no to merely debating no less than $5 billion for life-saving therapeutics, an indispensable tool for those with COVID illnesses.

And why did Republicans say no? Because they wanted to cripple COVID funding legislation with poison pills that they knew would derail this bill. Would derail the bill.

Let me say it again: instead of joining Democrats to begin a simple debate on COVID legislation, Republicans wanted to kill this bill with unrelated poison pills. 

This is potentially devastating for the American people. Vaccines, therapeutics, and testing were negotiated in good faith, and they should not— they should not—be held hostage to extraneous, unrelated issues. This is too important for the health of our country.

The Administration for months has made clear that new COVID funding is a matter of the highest urgency. Some critical COVID response measures are already being scaled back due to dwindling funding. Their message that Congress had to act – the Administration’s message – was unmistakable.

I hope Republicans will get serious about this. It should not be so difficult to do something so good and important for our country.

And let me say one other thing. Our Republican colleagues think they may be gaining some temporary advantage. But God forbid a second variant hits and people ask, why aren't the vaccines there? Why aren't the therapeutics there?

The answer will be that the Senate Republicans, to a person, blocked the ability to move forward and get this legislation done, because they wanted to play politics and inject extraneous issues into the debate.

But it’s not going to deter us from getting this done. It is vital for keeping schools, churches, businesses, and our communities open if and when a future, more potent variant rears its ugly head. It’s certainly better to act now rather than pay ten times down the line.

We are going to keep working to make sure that Congress sends COVID funding to the President’s desk.