Schumer Floor Remarks On His Invitation For The U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team To Visit U.S. Senate, The Beginning of Oral Arguments In Texas V. United States, The Need for Action On Election Security, And President Trump’s Recent Attacks On Fox NewsJuly 9, 2019
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today spoke on the Senate floor regarding Megan Rapinoe’s acceptance of his invitation for the USWNT to visit the U.S. Senate, the beginning of oral arguments in Texas v. United States today, the need for action on election security, and President Trump’s recent attacks on Fox News. Below are his remarks which can also be found here.
Madam President, yesterday, I sent a letter to U.S. Soccer that officially invited the U.S. Women’s Soccer team to come to the Senate to celebrate their outstanding World Cup victory. Happily, I heard that last night that Megan Rapinoe, one of the team’s co-captains and stars of the tournament, had accepted our invitation. And I greatly look forward to scheduling a time when these inspiring women can come to the nation’s capital.
What they have accomplished on and off the pitch is a credit to our nation. Millions of young girls and young boys look up to these players. Millions of women, sports fans or not, admire the light they’ve shone on the disparities between the men’s and women’s game—part of the fight for equal treatment and fair pay in the workplace for all women.
So I believe it would be a fitting tribute to this great women’s soccer team, to bring legislation to the Senate floor that would make it easier for women to get equal pay in the workplace. The House has already passed a bill to do just that. I call on Leader McConnell, again, to bring that bill to the floor of the Senate. Particularly in light of the great victory of the women’s team and the knowledge that they are compensated and supported much less than the men, even though they work just as hard and bring—at least in recent years—even greater glory to the United States.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could pass that bill while the Women’s National Team was visiting this chamber? Wouldn’t that send a powerful message of our commitment to rooting out discrimination everywhere? I urge Leader McConnell to consider it. Right now that bill lays in Leader McConnell’s all-too-full legislative graveyard. Perhaps this great victory might spring it free so that we can do something for women’s equality.
Now on health care.
Today, oral arguments begin in Texas v. United States, and the fate of our entire health care system hangs in the balance due to this nasty, cruel lawsuit led by President Trump’s Department of Justice. If the courts ultimately strike down the law, health care of tens of millions of Americans would be gone—gone. Prescription drug costs, high enough as they are, would go up even further. Protections for pre-existing conditions that affect much more than a hundred million Americans would be eliminated. A mother or father whose child had cancer would have to watch them suffer because the insurance company cut them off, said ‘We’re not paying for this anymore.’ We cannot tolerate that. And yet, President Trump and his administration, and nineteen Republican Attorneys General filed a suit that would do just that.
The case reveals the depth of hypocrisy and cruelty of the Republican position on health care. Senate Republicans, come campaign season, express unequivocal support for protections for pre-existing conditions. But they have repeatedly blocked our attempts to have the Senate intervene in this lawsuit and fight back against the Trump Administration’s position, which threatens to eliminate these very same protections.
I say to my Republican friends: you can’t have it both ways. You can’t say ‘Oh, I want to protect people with pre-existing conditions,’ and then prevent us from doing something to actually protect them, instead going along, knees shaking, with President Trump’s cruel lawsuit. And that’s what just about every Republican in this chamber has done.
President Trump has issued himself—also totally hypocritical— a laundry list of quotes in support of protections for pre-existing conditions. He talks all the time about bringing down prescription drug costs, while his administration actively pursues this lawsuit, which would raise the cost of drugs and eliminate protections for pre-existing conditions.
How much hypocrisy can America tolerate?
It’s mind-bending. The hypocrisy is patently obvious. I don’t care if you love President Trump, you should be calling him out for this hypocrisy, which will affect the ability of Americans to live long and healthy and well. And President Trump is trying to take it away, despite what he says to you, a Trump supporter.
Senate Democrats will head to the steps of the Capitol to highlight what this lawsuit could mean to average Americans. My Republican friends should take note. The American people are keenly aware of which party is trying to take away their health care. Even if it happens through the courts in this Trump-supported lawsuit, they will know that Congressional Republicans, by their silence, their meek, supine acquiescence, are complicit in the unraveling of our health care system. And I believe the American people will hold them accountable at the ballot box if they don’t change.
Finally, on election security. Tomorrow, the Senate will gather for a briefing by senior officials of the defense, law enforcement and intelligence community on the threats facing our elections in 2020. Russia has interfered with our elections, everyone agrees with that, and our administration is doing nothing to stop it from occurring again in 2020. So, we need a briefing by law enforcement on how serious the threat is—they’ve said in public statements: serious—and what we’re doing stop it. I am glad that Leader McConnell agreed to my request and has worked with us to schedule a briefing. It should dispel all doubt in this chamber about the need to take action ahead of next year’s presidential elections.
So I would say this: A briefing is important; a briefing is necessary, but it is by no means sufficient. We must then debate and adopt measures to protect our democracy and preserve the sanctity of elections.
And even though Leader McConnell has finally agreed to have this hearing, Leader McConnell has been content—once again, legislative graveyard—to have the Senate do nothing, do nothing when it comes to one of the greatest threats to our democracy: that a foreign power would reach in and interfere for its own purposes, not to help Americans.
Bipartisan bills exist. We could put them on the floor right now. This is not a partisan issue. Senators Rubio and Van Hollen have the DETER Act. Senators Menendez and Graham have the Russia Sanctions bill. But all these bills have languished in committee, victims of Leader McConnell’s legislative graveyard. And we have many more options besides, when it comes to election security: legislation from Senators Klobuchar, Warner, Feinstein and Wyden, Blumenthal and many others. It’s time we move on those bills. And as we continue to negotiate appropriations bills, we should include significant resources for election security. Nothing less than the vitality and faith in our democracy is at stake.
And there are not two sides to this issue. A foreign adversary attacked our democracy. I expect that former Special Counsel Mueller’s testimony next week will highlight, once again, that Russia’s efforts to interfere in our democracy were sweeping and systematic.
What are we waiting for? What are we waiting for? For them to interfere again? And for more Americans—whether they be Republican or Democrat or Independent; left, right or center—to no longer believe this democracy is legit? For two hundred forty three years since the Declaration of Independence and certainly since the signing of the Constitution a few years later, we’ve had faith in this democracy even when the outcome wasn’t what we want. But that faith is already eroding, in good part, because foreign powers can interfere in our elections. We cannot—we cannot—let that happen no matter who you are, what your politics are. But Leader McConnell is standing in the way of what could eat at the roots of our democracy and eventually make this mighty oak, the American experiment, fall. We don’t want that to happen.
The briefing tomorrow is a good step, but it is only step one. We need to take more, we need to act, to prepare our democracy for the challenges ahead.
And finally… this one I just felt was important to point out. President Trump amazingly attacked Fox News in the last few days, in a series of tweets for coverage he viewed as unfavorable to his administration.
This is Fox News, a news outlet that frankly is ninety percent or more on the president’s side. Their most popular shows seem to just be cheerleaders for President Trump. To me it’s the most biased newscast there is of the major news stations, not that any of them are free of any bias. And yet, when President Trump hears a small dissonant tweet, dissonant note from Fox News, now he attacks it?
What kind of thin skin does this man have? What kind of thin skin? But it’s worse than his thin skin. When a president can attack a news organization overwhelmingly friendly to him, with some of his leading advocates getting prime time space, some of them go to his rallies, it shows he really doesn’t believe in freedom of the press.
Dictators—dictators—shut down the press, try to shame the press when they speak truth to power, which is what our press has done in all the years of this republic. And when President Trump can even attack Fox News because once in a blue moon it says something he doesn’t like? That shows that he doesn’t really deserve to be president, because a president must protect our liberties, whether he’s under fire or not.