Majority Leader Schumer Floor Remarks On Today’s White House Meeting And The Need For Big, Bold Action

May 12, 2021

Washington, D.C.   Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding today’s meeting at the White House and the need for big, bold action to meet the many challenges of our time. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks which can also be viewed here:

Later this morning, the four Congressional leaders will meet with President Biden and Vice President Harris at the White House.

Speaking for the Democrats: our hope is to come together and find common ground where we can work in a bipartisan way to overcome the many challenges of our time. We cannot be small-minded or passive. We must be big and bold to meet the changes in the world, the rapid changes that are occurring in the world.

The world is rapidly changing and has been for some time. Just like the steam engine launched the industrial revolution and a century of tumultuous change, and just like electricity changed things dramatically in the latter half of the 19th and early parts of the 20th century, the internet has launched the technological revolution.

We’re living through that period of massive change everywhere: in media, communications, transportation, how we learn and work and live. The world is not going back to the old way that it was, and America needs to adapt so our workers, families, and businesses can compete and prosper in the 21st Century.

There are so many different changes. Let me just point out one that our society has basically neglected. That is about child care: when I was a kid in the late 1950s and early 1960s, the typical American family had two spouses, only one of whom worked. I'd get home from school every day and there would be my mom for me, my brother, and sister with milk and cookies—she made sure we drank our milk; she didn't care if we ate our cookies. And she asked us, do you have homework, we went out to play, but she was keeping an eye on us as we played in the street. It was one of the places I learned the most, just playing stickball and other stuff in the streets of Brooklyn.

But in any case, that's not true anymore. The typical American family is not the way it used to be. The vast majority are either single-parent families or two-parent families where both work.

And that means that child care is much more needed to maximize both the happiness and productivity of our society in the 21st century. Parents sweat over child care: they need to go to work, but who's going to watch the kids? Can they afford child care? Is it good enough for the children, of course who they love? Our children are our most precious possession.

And if we don't dramatically change child care, we're going to fall far behind, far behind. I read somewhere that of the 37 OECD nations, we are 36th in child care. Only Turkey is lower.

In general, these are not particularly partisan issues. Infrastructure and jobs and putting our economic recovery on firm ground should be the work of both Democrats and Republicans.

Another change, obviously, is climate. In the 1950s and 1960s, we didn't even imagine a world with climate change. In the last 20 years it has become apparent that we better do something about it or we could have worse times than this COVID year, every year 10 or 15 years from now. The dramatic changes that would discombobulate our society and risk our health and economy, just as COVID did, will happen if we don't do anything.

So fighting climate change and making sure America leads the world in emerging industries that deal with climate should be the work of both Democrats and Republicans.

This Congress has proven that we can legislate in a bipartisan way, just most recently on the Anti-Asian Hate Crimes Bill and a bipartisan water infrastructure bill. I believe we will continue that trend by taking up and passing a bipartisan competition bill this work period.

So as we head to the White House today, I hope our other leaders are thinking about how we can come together to solve our nation’s problems in a bold and lasting way. 100 percent of Democrats’ focus—and I think I can speak for Speaker Pelosi as well as myself and President Biden—is on delivering help to the American people.