Schumer Calls For Senate Passage Of The Already Agreed-To Bipartisan Disaster Relief Package

May 23, 2019

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today spoke on the Senate floor to call for the Senate to take up and pass the already agreed-to bipartisan disaster relief package. Below are his remarks, which can also be viewed here:

Madam President, there’s a lot of partisan squabbling that goes on around here, we all know that. Some of it is to be expected. After all, our parties have real disagreements about policy and the direction in which we think the country should go. But there are a few issues that are too important to get caught up in the typical partisan back-and-forth; a few fundamental responsibilities that we must fulfill as a governing body.

And one of those where there has always been bipartisan agreement has been disaster relief. Hurricanes, fires, floods don’t hit only Republicans or only Democrats; they hit Americans of all stripes. We must come together to provide relief for everybody.

After holding up disaster relief on behalf of the president, who demanded we shortchange Puerto Rico, Republicans finally came around a few weeks ago and agreed with disaster relief that would be provided to everyone. Let me repeat that now: we have an agreement, right now, on where and how to provide relief for Americans in the Midwest, in the South, in the West, and on the territories. Chairman Shelby, Vice Chairman Leahy have worked in good faith with that compromise. The House will accept it. Chairman Lowey and Ranking Member Granger also have agreed to this disaster relief package. So there’s a package of disaster relief that’s ready to go.

Unfortunately, that agreement has become entangled with extraneous issues. However important these other issues may be, we have an obligation to get this disaster relief package over the finish line before the Congressional Memorial Day work period.

So Ranking Member Leahy and I would like to make it clear to my friend the Republican Leader that Senate Democrats are ready to pass the bipartisan disaster relief package that has already been agreed to and written. We should leave out extraneous issues of which there are many—everyone wants to put their own thing in—for another day.

Democrats are willing to work hard to expedite consideration of that agreement. We’re ready to work with our Republican colleagues to pass it as quickly as possible.

Now I understand that there are some discussions going on in the House, but if we can’t come to an agreement this morning on the extraneous issues that the House is discussing, we should set those issues to the side. We should pass the disaster agreement as is, and return to those unrelated issues at a later date. The peoples of the Midwest, of the South, of the West, and of the territories have waited long enough. They have waited long enough.

There are millions of Americans still recovering from having their homes destroyed, their crops devastated, their property burned. They have waited for relief for too long already. They’re clamoring for it. They’re saying to Congress: ‘put aside your differences and get something done.’

The plan I outlined will do just that. Put aside the differences and get something done. Whether it’s the president or members of the House or Senate, Democrat or Republican who want to add extraneous issues–step aside, at least for this time. Let’s get it done. Let’s not delay any longer.