Schumer Floor Remarks Bidding Good Riddance To 2020 And Decrying Republicans’ Obstruction Of A Simple Vote On The House-Passed Bill To Deliver $2,000 Survival Checks To The American People

January 1, 2021

Washington, D.C. — Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senate Republicans’ continued refusal to hold an up-or-down vote on the House-passed bill to deliver $2,000 to the American people. Following his remarks, Senator Schumer asked consent to vote on the bill, to which Sen. John Thune (R-SD) objected. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

I cannot remember the last time the Senate convened on New Year’s Day, so I want to take the opportunity to wish all of my colleagues a Happy New Year.

I want to thank the staff for having to come in and work on New Year’s Day, and I want to bid good riddance to 2020. There can be no question that last year was a horrible year as they have said in Britain, an annus horribilis.

But as we begin the first year of this new decade—preparing to inaugurate a new president and inoculate the country against this virus—the American people have reason to hope.

The Senate can start off this New Year by adding to that sense of hope by sending $2,000 checks to struggling American families.

The Senate can start off 2021 by really helping the American people. We can start off 2021 by sending $2,000 checks to struggling American families, to carry them through the darkest and final days of this pandemic.

The votes today – on this uncommon New Year’s Day session – could be the last of the 116th Congress. That means that today is the last chance to take up and pass the House bill to provide $2,000 checks to the American people.

If the Senate does not take action today, $2,000 checks will not become law before the end of Congress and Americans will know that Leader McConnell and the Republican majority have prevented them from getting the checks, plain and simple.

This is the last chance, the last chance, for a mother in Nashville, $4,000 behind on the rent, whose water was shut off earlier this month.

The last chance for the medical receptionist in Macomb, $2,100 behind on the rent, whose electricity was shut off in September, on her son’s third day of virtual kindergarten. Kid can’t go to school.

The last chance for the 12 million Americans who have fallen nearly $6,000 behind on the rent and utility, or the 26 million Americans who have had trouble putting food on the table. The last chance.

Make no mistake about it, $600 has never been enough for them. This is the last chance to deliver $2,000 before a new Congress is sworn in, and the legislative process must start all over again.

For once, we have progressive Democrats, conservative Republicans, the President himself— and not to mention of course the majority, the vast majority, of the American people—singing from the same songbook in support of these checks. We have a bill that’s already passed the House. All we are asking for is a simple vote in the Senate. I for one am confident it would pass if given the chance, and that may be the real reason that Leader McConnell and the Republicans don’t want to bring it up.

We have had many opportunities this week to vote on the measure. Senator McConnell has blocked every one of them. We have offered to vote on whatever unrelated issues the Republican Leader says he wants to vote on, so long as we can get a clean vote on the House bill to provide $2,000 checks—the only way to actually make it happen in this year, this session of Congress. That offer still stands. That offer still stands. But give us a vote, give us a vote, on the House bill.

It’s ok if the Republican Leader opposes checks. It’s ok if the majority of Republican Senators oppose the checks. They can make their case to the American people and oppose the bill. But let us vote.

It’s ok if the Republican Leader wants to call direct assistance to American people “poorly targeted” and “socialism for the rich” – even after he drove the passage of a $2 trillion, across-the-board reduction in corporate taxes. But give us a vote. Make the argument, let the Senate work its will.

To me, it seems like the Republican Leader is afraid to schedule a vote on $2,000 checks because he’s afraid it will pass. What a terrifying thought! That struggling Americans would get some money to feed their families, pay the rent, and get on with their lives. Pay the utility bill of that kindergarten kid, or third grade kid, who can’t even go to school because his family can’t afford electricity.

We have a chance, a chance, at the end of this painful year and at the beginning of a new one to give Americans reason for hope in 2021. The only thing standing in the way right now is Leader McConnell and the Republican Senate majority.

In a moment, I will ask consent for the final time that the Senate set a time for a vote on the House bill to provide $2,000 checks. I’ve done it every day this week.

This is it: the last chance for the 116th Congress to pass $2,000 checks, and say to regular Americans help is on the way. Let’s have a vote, let’s have a vote pass this bill. There is no better way to usher in the New Year.

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