Schumer Floor Remarks On Leader McConnell’s Emaciated COVID Response Bill That Is Designed To Fail And Republicans’ Continued Failure To Support A Bill That Will Meet The Needs Of The American People

October 19, 2020

Washington, D.C. — Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor after Senate Republicans again promised to vote on an emaciated stimulus package that does not meet the needs of the American people. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

Now of course, instead of ramming through a Supreme Court nominee in the most hypocritical of circumstances, the Republican majority should be working with Democrats on a real, comprehensive COVID-relief bill.

Over the past few weeks, COVID-19 cases have unfortunately swelled across the country: the United States reported 69,000 new cases last Friday, with 10 states reporting their highest single-day totals ever. Poverty is beginning to increase. Unemployment remains alarmingly high. More than six million Americans missed their rent or mortgage payment in September. What we need right now is an emergency relief package with enough resources to beat back this enormous crisis.

And yet, Leader McConnell this week will once again force a vote on a partisan, emaciated COVID-relief bill—so deficient and laden with poison pills that it’s obvious he designed it to fail.

In the immortal words of Yogi Berra: it’s déjà vu all over again. Leader McConnell tried the same stunt last month. It failed. And instead of trying to work with Democrats or increase the size of the relief package to meet the needs, the desperate needs of the American people, Leader McConnell is back with the same sorry excuse for a bill.

It fails to include robust unemployment insurance, enough funding for schools and universities, or funding for rental, housing, or nutrition assistance. It does nothing for the census or our elections, and abandons state, local, and tribal governments on the brink of catastrophe.

It doesn’t include recent bipartisan legislation to help independent music and theatre venues – the Save Our Stages Act – or bipartisan legislation to help our ailing restaurants.

It is totally inadequate when it comes to funding for testing and tracing, especially given the new spike in cases, especially given the fact that a second wave may be upon us. I hope and pray it isn’t.

And it once again includes the poison pill of all poison pills: a sweeping corporate immunity provision that would shield corporations from accountability if they put their workers in harm’s way.

Let me be clear: the Republican proposal was unacceptable a month ago. It remains unacceptable now, even more so that the crisis has gotten even worse.

Remember: Leader McConnell has been clear that as many as twenty Republican Senators don’t want to provide any more relief to the American people. One Senator said: not “another dime.” According to press reports, Republican Senators gave their counterparts in the White House an earful for even considering a bigger package of aid.

So this is not a serious attempt at pandemic relief. It seems to be another attempt at giving Republicans political cover before the election.

Now, Speaker Pelosi continues to negotiate with Secretary Mnuchin and the White House in the hopes of finding a deal that would actually meet the needs of the American people. Instead of repeating the same failed, partisan gambit, Leader McConnell should be working with Democrats and the Republicans on a proposal that actually has a chance of making it through both houses of Congress. The longer he waits, the greater the cost to the American people.