Schumer Floor Remarks Calling For Urgent And Necessary Action On Coronavirus Legislation Following Months Of Republican

June 30, 2020

Washington, D.C.—Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor calling for urgent and necessary action on coronavirus relief legislation following months of Republican obstruction. Senator Schumer also announced that Senate Democrats will attempt to immediately pass desperately-needed funding for election security, education, and nursing homes. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

The number of new COVID-19 cases is accelerating at an alarming rate through several states, and the economic effects of the pandemic continue to hound American families and businesses across the country.

Over one fifth—one fifth—of the workforce has requested unemployment assistance. One fifth. In one month, the expanded unemployment benefits we passed in the CARES Act will expire. For millions of Americans, another rent payment is due, tomorrow, and eviction protections will run out for these tenants in a few weeks. School districts are preparing for the fall without the resources or the guidance they need to re-open safely. Localities are preparing for the 2020 general election and need federal resources to hold safe elections.

Even the popular and bipartisan Paycheck Protection Program runs out of lending authority today, with over $130 billion remaining funds, while so many small businesses continue to struggle.

They have $130 billion sitting there. The program runs out today. Our Republican colleagues are doing nothing.

There are so many urgent priorities that require our attention here. But the Senate Republican majority has been ignoring them. Instead of working in a bipartisan way to reform police departments across the country, Senate Republicans dropped an inadequate, partisan bill on the floor. After it failed, Republicans didn’t seem eager to start the bipartisan negotiations we need to get progress back on track.

Instead of spending the last 45 days working with Democrats on legislation to address the public health and economic crises Americans are facing due to the coronavirus pandemic, Republicans have sat on their hands. In fact, Leader McConnell seems dead-set on delaying any COVID-relief until after the July 4th holiday, and even then, he said he wants to assess the conditions in the country before taking action.

We just can’t wait for our Republican colleagues to wake up to the reality in the country. People are losing their homes. People are not being fed. People are losing their jobs. Small businesses are closing. COVID is spreading. The Republican majority does nothing. It sits on its hands. The best it says, in the voice of the leader, let's assess the situation. What more do they need to assess?

The American people don't need an assessment. They want action, action. It's amazing. So we cannot wait, the country cannot wait, for our Republican colleagues to wake up to the reality.  So Senate Democrats are forcing action on the floor this week on a number of crucial issues.

Last night, Democrats asked our colleagues to pass emergency funding for state, local, and tribal governments who are finalizing their budgets—today—and may be forced to cut vital services and lay off teachers, firefighters and other public employees. Senate Republicans, however, blocked our bill.

Hopefully, our Republican colleagues won’t be so hasty to reject our attempts to start work on several other urgent priorities this week.

Today, Democrats will come to the floor to ask this body to take up legislation on safe elections, led by my colleague Senator Klobuchar, education funding, led by my colleague Senator Murray, and funding for our nursing homes, championed by Senator Casey. All three will ask for unanimous consent requests.

Will our Republican friends block them? Block action once again as the country suffers, as the economy continues to decline, as more people get sick, more people die?

These are not abstract issues, not at all.  This is about parents making sure their kids can safely continue their education. This is about making sure elderly relatives are healthy and safe and properly cared for. This is about making sure when it comes time to vote, every American can exercise the franchise without worrying about getting sick. 

The need for these pieces of legislation is beyond dispute. Most Republicans back home, when asked if we should do these things, say they want us to do them. We have only a few days to go before the Senate adjourns for the next state work period, and if Republicans continue to block reasonable attempts at passing emergency COVID legislation, they will have to go home and explain why to their constituents.

Americans are tired of waiting for the Republican Senate to “feel the urgency of acting immediately.” We have a chance, tonight, to accomplish what should have been done months ago—and pass three important bills to ensure our schools, our elections, and our nursing homes get the support they desperately need. 

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