Skip to content

Majority Leader Schumer Floor Remarks On Today’s Senate Vote To Advance The Bipartisan Border Act Three Months After Republicans Blocked Action On Border Security

Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor on the upcoming Senate vote today on bipartisan border security legislation, three months after Republicans blocked the same legislation. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

Three months ago, something truly stunning happened here on the Senate floor: Senate Republicans filibustered the strongest, most comprehensive border security bill Congress has seen in a generation. And they did it because Donald Trump wanted to exploit the border for political gain on the campaign trail.

Well, today, we are going to try again. We will vote to move forward on a border security bill that Democrats and Republicans spent months on together. I hope our Republican colleagues join us to reach a different outcome.

We all know the situation at the border is unacceptable and demands attention from Congress. Democrats believe that, Republicans have been saying it, and that’s why three months ago we sat down with them to write a strong and necessary and bipartisan border security bill.

Poll after poll shows that a large majority of Americans across party lines support our position of getting a bipartisan bill done, and only 8% are in opposition. When Republicans like Donald Trump say “don’t support a bipartisan bill, wait till next year,” they are in a distinct minority with the American people, from one end of the country to the other. People want us to get things done. People want us to come together. And when they hear that the only reason Republicans backed away from this bill is, not that it wasn't strong enough, but that Donald Trump said he wanted chaos at the border, they don't like that.

This is our bill. The public is on the same page. And in the polling data, Democrats, Republicans, and independents are all on the same page: act on a bipartisan bill, get something done. Don't play political games.

And this is a bill that will hire thousands of new border agents and officers. A bill that will finally reform asylum. A bill that will commit billions to stop the flow of fentanyl. A bill endorsed by the National Border Patrol Union, and the Chamber of Commerce, and the very conservative Wall Street Journal Editorial page.

So, to my Republican colleagues: you wanted this border bill, today we vote on this border bill, and it’s time to show you are serious about solving the problem.

Look, I understand that today’s bill is not going to win every single Democratic vote, or every single Republican vote. That was never the goal of this bill. The goal, rather, was to come up with something that could get sixty votes, a majority on both sides of the aisle. That’s how it was crafted, and it’s far different than what the Republicans have done.

Look at what happened to H.R. 2: it didn’t get a single Democratic vote here in the Senate. It did not even get the support of every Senate Republican. If anything is political theatre, it’s H.R. 2. It's not designed to solve the problem. It's designed to make a political point. The bill we are bringing up was designed to solve the problem. And Republicans and Democrats labored together in good faith to get that done, and it would have gotten done had Donald Trump not said I don't want this done, blame it on me, I want chaos at the border so I can win reelection.

That is not what the American people want, as I mentioned. The polling data is clearly on our side. The bipartisan border bill is something so different than H.R. 2, because it is a serious attempt at legislation that Republicans helped put together.

Now, people might forget, but there was actually a lot of bipartisan interest in getting this bill passed before Donald Trump killed the bill and told the country “Please, blame it on me.” That’s what he said, blame it on him.

My friend, the Republican Leader, openly admitted that “It's actually our side that wanted to tackle the border issue. We started it.” That’s what Leader McConnell said.

My friend, the Senator from Texas, similarly said “It makes no sense to me for us to do nothing when we might be able to do things better.” That’s just what we’re doing today, I would say to my friend, the Senator from Texas.

A few weeks before our bill was released, our colleague from Iowa warned “We stand the risk of losing the chance to actually get something done on the border now, because I don’t see this opportunity coming up again any time soon.” Again, that's what we're doing, just what our Republican senators asked us to do for months.

And I would be remiss not to include the good observation of my friend from South Carolina:, he said: “H.R. 2 was unable to get any Democratic support in the House; we lost one Republican in the Senate. So to the conservative world: you have a unique opportunity…to get border security reform.” And he added “This moment will pass. Do not let it pass.”

I can't say it any better. And what they said then is perfectly applicable now. What made them change when they had such conviction that we had to get something done in a strong bipartisan way? One thing: Donald Trump said turn around, reverse yourself – 180-degree reversal – and they did.

The words I have mentioned are not the words of senators who think this was all just political theatre. They sound like the words of senators who were hoping to get something done. But as I mentioned, it wasn’t until after Donald Trump swooped in that they changed their tune.

So, we are going to try again today. I hope Republicans join us on today’s vote to reach a different outcome than the one in March. If Republicans were truly serious about calling the situation at the border an emergency, they shouldn’t delay any longer. You can’t call something an “emergency” one day, then suddenly kick the can down the road the next day.

Let me finish with this: America is proud of its immigrant tradition. We always have been – and always will be – a nation comprised of people who come from across the world looking for an opportunity here in this country, knowing that there's no place better than America if you work hard, you can provide a good life for yourself and your family. That was what has importuned people for generations. We should never let go of that. We must always work to give people more opportunity to come here, to treat them humanely, and embrace people who want to contribute to our economy. There’s nothing more American than that.

Immigration has been one of the great causes of mine since my earliest days in the Senate. Over ten years ago I was part of the bipartisan Gang of 8 – led by myself and my friend, the late John McCain – that wrote comprehensive immigration reform. We passed that historic bill because both sides were able to work together.  

The lesson of that bill is that it passed the Senate, I believe with 68 or 69 votes, bipartisan. We can only do these things in a bipartisan way. Only.

So today, knowing that lesson, we need to try and work together again. We know our nation is stronger because of immigration. We know that the status quo at the southern border is unacceptable, the results of decades of neglect, going back administrations on both sides.

So, to all those who’ve said for years that we need to act on the border: this is the chance to show you’re serious about fixing the problem.

This is our chance to show the American people that we are willing to reach across the aisle and work together to solve one of the most vexing problems that affects our country and what the public overwhelmingly wants in poll after poll. I urge my colleagues on both sides to join us in moving forward today. A chance like this sadly only comes once in a blue moon.

To my Senate Republican colleagues: please do not let this moment pass.