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Majority Leader Schumer Floor Remarks On The Urgent Need To Pass A National Security Supplemental Package And Offering Senate Republicans A Vote On Their Border Amendment

Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor on the urgent need to pass President Biden’s national security supplemental to aid our friends and allies abroad and reiterated his offer for Republicans to receive a vote on a border proposal at a sixty vote threshold. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

The question before the Senate today is simple, yet momentous: will Senators agree to begin debate – just a debate – on legislation to defend America’s national security, on an issue so important it goes to the actual preservation of Western and democratic values in the world?

Are we willing to hold a discussion, here on the floor, about steps necessary to safeguard democracy, stand up to autocratic brutes, and respond to our adversaries with strength?

Or, will Senators prevent us from moving forward over extremist border policies?

Because this afternoon, the Senate will hold a vote on whether or not to move forward on a national security supplemental.

At stake is America’s safety, the safety of democracy, the future of the war in Ukraine. As we have always done throughout our history, the Senate should rush to the defense of democracy and stand up to autocratic brutes.

And I have promised my Republican colleagues that if they agree to move forward, I will give them an amendment vote for a border package entirely of their choosing, no conditions.

This is a golden opportunity for Republicans to present whatever border policy they want, and our side will not interfere with the construction of that amendment in any way.

It’s been reported that Senate Republicans will make another attempt to craft a border proposal and share it with Democrats because the last proposal was so far away from what anyone could accept on our side.

Well, I have a suggestion for my Republican colleagues: vote with us to begin debate and then bring that proposal to the floor as an amendment. We can debate it right here, right here, on the Senate floor.

If Republicans vote no today, and reject the opportunity to offer a border amendment, then what the heck is going on?

Republicans said they want border. It’s they who have injected border into the Ukraine issue, even though the two are unrelated. And now they’re getting a golden opportunity to offer border at sixty votes. If that is not good enough for them, then what are they doing? Let's not forget, it was the Republican Leader and others on the Republican side in the House and Senate, mainly from the hard right, who demanded that border and Ukraine be tied together. Well, we're willing to give them an amendment. That's what they've asked for, and now they're spurning that offer.

Why hold up Ukraine aid if they can’t even present a border package that can pass the Senate? We're asking ourselves this question.

Has border been nothing more than an excuse for the hard right to kill funding for Ukraine, and too many other Republican Senators who are not part of the hard right are going along?

I hope that’s not true. I hope Republicans vote yes and take up our offer on a border amendment at sixty votes.

Because we don’t have much time to keep negotiating off the floor if all we’ll do is go around in circles, which is what’s happened over the last three weeks despite the goodwill of the negotiators. Democrats have spent three weeks in negotiation in good faith trying to get somewhere on the border to no avail. We believe we should do something on border. In fact, the President's proposal, which I'm making the base bill, has very significant border provisions in it, particularly those talking about stopping the flow of fentanyl into this country by providing much more help at the ports of entry.

We want to reach a middle ground with Republicans on border. It’s important. But we cannot waste time on something like H.R. 2, which every single Democrat voted against, which could never pass the House, while the clock is ticking to get Ukraine the help it so desperately needs.

Now, I understand that this is frustrating for some of our Republican colleagues. I appreciate that the hard right may feel boxed in and feeling the pressure that they can’t come up with a package that can get only eleven Democrats if all of them vote for it. But the only way anything on border gets done is with votes from both sides of the aisle. That’s how the Senate works.

So again: I hope our Republican colleagues do the right thing for our country and vote in favor of debating a supplemental. I hope they take this free opportunity – this golden opportunity – to make a real, serious proposal on the border. Though, in reality, they can propose whatever they want and see if it can get the sixty votes that is always required of this type of legislation in the Senate.

If they make a serious offer on the border and it gets sixty votes, then the Senate will have spoken. And if they cannot get sixty votes on a border proposal, then that should not prevent us from giving Ukraine the aid they so desperately need.

Let me repeat that again: if Republicans, who injected border into this whole debate, now cannot come up with an amendment, they should not prevent us from giving Ukraine the aid it so desperately needs.   

The world is watching. The world is watching what the Senate does today. You can bet, my colleagues, Vladimir Putin is watching.

Hamas is certainly watching. Iran, President Xi, North Korea – all of our adversaries are closely watching. Let us do the right thing and move forward today.