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Majority Leader Schumer Floor Remarks On Tomorrow’s Senate Vote On The Bipartisan Border Act 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 on bipartisan border security legislation. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

Tomorrow, Senators face an important decision: will both sides come together to advance a bipartisan border security bill, or will partisanship get in the way yet again?

Three months ago, Donald Trump told his Republican allies to block the strongest bipartisan border security bill Congress has seen in a generation. Luckily, we are trying again tomorrow, and I hope this time Republicans join us to achieve a different outcome.

The only way – the only way – we are going to fix the border is through bipartisan legislation, just like the one both sides spent months negotiating a few months ago and which we’re taking up again tomorrow.

We don’t expect every Democrat or every Republican to support this bill. It wasn’t designed that way. It wasn't designed to get all the votes of one party, which then almost inevitably means you get none of the votes from the other side. It was intended to be a compromise that could pass and become law. 

We know there are disagreements, as there always are, about the best way to proceed on the border. But that is precisely why I’ve emphasized from day one – we need to have strong support from both sides if we hope to get border done.

Unlike H.R. 2, a very partisan bill, the bipartisan border bill was written with the goal of getting 60 votes in the Senate, with support from both Republicans and Democrats. It had input from both Republicans and Democrats. H.R. 2 can’t claim that. If anything is political, it's H.R. 2.

It did not receive a single Democratic vote in the Senate, because Democrats weren't consulted. It did not even get the full support of Senate Republicans. H.R. 2 was the definition of political theatre, of one side sitting in a room by itself, writing what it wanted, not even thinking of how you pass a bill. Our bill, however, is what a serious attempt at border reform looks like.

Now, most people might not remember, but a few months ago, there was a lot of bipartisan interest in getting our border bill passed, before Donald Trump killed it in its tracks.

Our Republican colleagues, including the Republican Leader, was adamant we needed to get border security done as part of the national security supplemental.

This is what the Republican Leader said right before our bill was released: “I think this is the ideal time to do it.”

He then added, Leader McConnell, that “This is a unique opportunity where divided government has given us an opportunity to get an outcome.”

These aren’t the words of someone who thinks our efforts were political theatre – these are the words of someone who thinks we were close to reaching a breakthrough.

And he wasn’t alone. My friend from South Carolina also said that that “To those who think that if President Trump wins…that we can get a better deal, you won’t.” He added “This moment will pass. Do not let it pass.” Republican Senator from South Carolina.

So, let’s be perfectly clear: our bipartisan border bill represented a real chance – in fact, the best chance in decades – to act on border security. To make a law and not just to make a political point. 

Importantly, the bill would have made huge strides towards cracking down on the scourge of fentanyl. It would’ve given billions for DEA, for DHS, to hire officers to focus exclusively on drugs and billions for state of the art equipment to detect the flow of drugs at border crossings and ports. Some of my Democratic colleagues will be talking about that at 12:30, at an event, about how this bill really does more than anything we have done thus far, and we've worked hard on it, to deal with the scourge of fentanyl. Today, my Democratic colleagues will shine a spotlight on the immense good this bill would do protect our country from the free flow of this dangerous drug, fentanyl.

If you told me a year ago that this was the kind of bill we had before us, I would have been certain Republicans would have helped enact this bill into law. By any objective measure, it’s strong, necessary. 

And one final note – the last time we came close here was 2013, when we passed comprehensive immigration reform. We did it bipartisan, it was the only way to do it. I, and my late friend, good friend, John McCain, had a gang of eight – four Democrats, four Republicans. We got, I believe it was, 69 votes on the floor of the Senate. Unfortunately, the House didn't pass it. But it's a lesson to all of us, bipartisanship is the only way to go. H.R. 2 is not the least bit bipartisan. Our bill was completely bipartisan.

So tomorrow, we are going to lay out a clear choice. Tomorrow, we will see who is serious about actually wanting to fix the border, and who prefers to merely talk about fixing the border.