Schumer Floor Remarks On Leader McConnell Standing In The Way Of A Serious, Comprehensive COVID Response Bill That Meets The Needs Of The American People

October 21, 2020

Washington, D.C. — Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor, detailing the failures of Senate Republicans’ “emaciated” COVID response legislation and responding to the alarming reports that Leader McConnell is standing in the way of a broader agreement that could meet the needs of the American people. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

The closer we get to an election, the sillier it gets here in Leader McConnell’s Senate. All week, the Republican majority has scheduled stunt votes on supposed COVID relief bills that are all, in reality, designed to fail.

Yesterday, the Leader moved to table his own bill, so Republicans could vote against tabling it. 

Let me repeat that, because that’s what’s happening here. It’s hard to believe that this is supposedly the greatest debate chamber in the country or in the world. Leader McConnell moved to table his own bill so Republicans could then vote against tabling it. That’s what the Republican majority thinks passes for a serious attempt at COVID-relief bill in this Republican Senate when people are suffering so badly: games, games. When people are suffering.

The truth is, the Republican leader needed that vote to fail, because if the Senate actually proceeded to a real bill, it might mess up the timing of the Republican plan to confirm Judge Barrett to the Supreme Court.

Now think of that for a moment. The Republican majority sets up a fake vote on COVID relief, because if—God forbid—the Senate actually considered a real bill—to do something real about this overwhelming COVID crisis—it might delay their Supreme Court nominee that they are rushing through in a process that can only be declared as abusive to the Senate.

That is all the American people need to know about priorities on the other side of the aisle: rush a nominee through whose views are way to the right of the American people and ignore, avoid, play games with getting COVID relief, which is the number one thing the American people want. Not a Supreme Court nominee who is so far away from their views.

While the country is hurting, while millions of Americans are sick and dying, while workers lose their jobs, businesses close their doors, Republican Senators are playing political stunts with vitally-needed economic relief.

And the games continue today. Once again, the Republican majority will bring up a bill designed to fail: their partisan, emaciated COVID-relief bill, so-called COVID-relief bill.

The bill we’re voting on today has already failed in the Senate. It didn’t get a Democratic vote. And we already know it lacks the votes. And why? Because it leaves so many Americans behind.

Renters and homeowners are left behind. There’s no relief for them.

Americans who have lost jobs through no fault of their own are left behind.

Americans who rely on critical public service by their state and local governments are left behind.

Small businesses in communities of color and in some of the hardest-hit industries—our restaurants, our concert venues, theaters, nonprofits, local news—receive no dedicated assistance.

The Republican proposal on COVID doesn’t even devote enough resources to testing and tracing, despite a spike in cases and the harrowing prospect of a second wave of the virus sweeping across America.

It is laden with poison pills that our Republican colleagues know Democrats would never support. That’s not a real attempt to legislate and get something done.

What’s in there? A giant corporate immunity provision to shield corporations from liability if they put their workers in dangerous COVID-related situations.

A tax provision to benefit wealthy families who send their kids to private schools while shortchanging middle-class families and public schools.

There is no reason for our Republican colleagues to insist on a corporate liability shield and a provision to injure public schools in a COVID-relief bill. No reason. They know it’s objectionable. They know it’s partisan. They know it’s an anchor around the minimal bill they have, enough to sink it.

There’s no reason to include those poison pills in legislation that they know needs bipartisan support to pass because twenty Republicans have said they don’t want to vote for any money. So they know they need Democrats, but they put things in the bill that they know Democrats will oppose and lead to the bill’s demise. This minimal bill. So what’s the logic here? Well, there is a perverse logic, if the Republican Leader wants to make sure that the bill fails, and that’s sure what it looks like.

It’s clear why Leader McConnell is forced to do these stunts—a good portion of his caucus opposes more relief to the American people. Yesterday, the Republican Whip, the member in charge of counting Republican votes, said that “I think we’re going to have a hard time finding 13 [Republican] votes” for anything—13—out of fifty three. One Republican member proudly vowed not to vote for “another dime.”

People are being kicked out of their homes, children are starving, there’s no testing and tracing that meets the needs, schools can’t open…and not another dime. Let America suffer, so our right-wing ideology saying that we shouldn’t make well-to-do people pay taxes--that’s what their last last tax cut bill did—can prevail over the needs of America and the American people.

So it’s not Democrats who are blocking a real relief bill. We know that, everyone knows that. Speaker Pelosi is still trying her best with the White House to get a deal. We have already offered to meet Republicans halfway. The biggest obstacle to another relief bill, from the very beginning, has been Senate Republicans and Leader McConnell, and as if we needed any more proof, it was pretty obvious before, it was reported in multiple news outlets, confirmed by four Senators who were at the meeting, that Leader McConnell warned the White House against making another deal on another stimulus bill before the election.

Let me repeat that: Leader McConnell, while he was coming to the floor and railing against Democratic obstruction, was behind the scenes warning the White House against striking a bipartisan deal on COVID-relief.

Who does he think he can fool? Not the American people, ask them, they know who is to blame. They know Democrats up and down the line are for relief, and Republicans are opposing it.

And I’ll tell you one thing: the American people are sick and tired of these political stunts.

They are sick and tired of politicians who would rather have it appear that they are working than do actual work.

This shouldn’t be so hard. We all know how to pass bills in the Senate, with bipartisan buy-in and bipartisan support.

We did it in the CARES bill back in March. But ever since that bill passed, this Senate Republican majority has gone totally partisan, every step of the way, even on an issue as important to the country as relief from this evil pandemic.