Schumer Floor Remarks In Advance Of Passage Of Historic Bipartisan Coronavirus Response Legislation That Puts Workers And The Health Of Americans First

March 25, 2020

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today spoke on the Senate floor in advance of the passage of the historic bipartisan coronavirus response legislation that puts workers and the health of Americans first. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

The legislation now before us now is historic because it is meant to match a historic crisis. Our health care system is not prepared to care for the sick. Our workers are without work. Our businesses cannot do business. Our factories lie idle. The gears of the American economy have ground to a halt.

Our country has faced immense challenges before, but rarely so many of them at the same time.

Over the past few days, the Senate has stepped into the breach. We packed weeks or perhaps months of the legislative process into five days. Representatives from both sides of the aisle and both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue have forged a bipartisan agreement in highly partisan times, with very little time to spare.

It’s been a long, hard road, with a remarkable number of twists and turns, but for the sake of millions of Americans, it will be worth it.

It will be worth it to get help to millions of small businesses and save tens of millions of jobs.

It will be worth it to see that Americans who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own will be able to pay their rent and mortgages and put food on the table because we passed the greatest expansion of insurance to the unemployed in decades.

It will be worth it to send gloves and masks to our nurses and doctors.

It will be worth it to send ventilators and beds to our hospitals, and begin rebuilding public health infrastructure in America—a Marshall Plan in this new century for our medical system.

It was worth it to help industries step back from the brink of collapse in order to save the jobs of hundreds of thousands of Americans in those industries employ.

It will be worth it to put workers first.

It was a long, hard road. Neither side can be completely happy with the final product. But it will be worth it.

And I’m damn proud of the work we did over the past few days. Because we put in the work, because we tested the limits of exhaustion, because we didn’t immediately accept a bill drafted by only one party, the legislation before us tonight is better.

Better for our health care system and the 65,000 Americans now afflicted with COVID-19. Better for our workers. Better for our small businesses. Better for Indian Tribes. Better for our economy. And better for the American people. And so I must thank all my colleagues on both sides, especially the Chairs and Ranking Members and their staffs.

These past few days have been filled with drama. The past few hours were no exception. I know a few of my Republican friends still harbor reservations about voting for this legislation. But when there is a crisis of this magnitude, the private sector cannot solve it. Individuals, even with bravery and valor, are not powerful enough to beat it back. Government is the only force large enough to staunch the bleeding and begin healing. 

This is a time when the American people need their government. This is what we were elected for. The oath we swear to the Constitution means we must protect the general welfare of the people.

So let us marshal this government into action.

There are millions of Americans watching us right now, at home on their televisions, separated from friends and family, fearful for their children and their livelihoods, unsure of when the time will come when all of our lives may return to normal.

Let us tell them, tonight, that help is on the way. That they are not truly alone. That this country, that this Senate, that this government, is here for them in a time of dire need.

This is a strange and evil disease. There is much we still don’t know about it and it is keeping us apart. When we pass this bill, instead of hugging each other, we’ll wave from a distance.

None of us can know when this plague will pass. The only thing we know for sure is that we must summon the same spirit that saw previous generations of Americans through our nation’s darkest hours. Fellowship. Sacrifice. Fortitude. Resilience.

That is what it means to be an American. With that spirit, this nation faced down war and depression and fear itself. I have no doubt that, once again, America will ultimately prevail.