Schumer Floor Remarks on Legislative Priorities to Resolve Before February 8th

January 23, 2018

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the legislative priorities that must be resolved before the February 8th deadline. Below are his remarks which can also be viewed here

Mr. President, yesterday, the Senate passed a continuing resolution to reopen the government and provide for a six-year reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance program.

The Majority Leader and I were also able to agree on a path forward for DACA legislation.

The continuing resolution extends government funding until February the 8th. If an agreement on DACA isn’t reached by February 8th, the Senate will immediately proceed to immigration, under a neutral process that’s fair to all sides.

This is the first guarantee that the Republican Majority will give a DACA bill fair consideration and an up-or-down vote on the floor. And it means that we can hopefully resolve the fate of the dreamers much sooner than the March 5th deadline.

The Republican Majority now has 16 days to work with us to write a bill that can get sixty votes and prevent the Dreamers from being deported. The clock is ticking, 16 days. That’s not much time. We’ve got to get moving. 

Leader McConnell…his Republican colleagues…all of us…should hear the countdown clock ticking to protect the 800,000 young dreamers from deportation.

We can get it done. Every Democrat – all 49 of us - supports DACA. The pressure is now on Leader McConnell and the Republican moderate caucus to help us find a solution that protects the 800,000 Dreamers and can pass the Senate. 

Over the weekend, a bipartisan group of Senate moderates came together and helped renew the urgency of the immigration debate. After talking to Senator Durbin, it is my understanding that this bipartisan group, which includes several Republican moderates, expressed a sincere desire to protect the Dreamers in upcoming legislation, more so than before the weekend. 

Leader McConnell’s promise to consider DACA legislation was made just as much to this bipartisan group as it was to me. If he does not honor our agreement, it will be a breach of trust with not only the Democratic Senators, but with several members of his own party as well.

Democrats will continue to fight as hard as ever for the Dreamers, but I am more hopeful today than last week that we can assemble sixty votes for a DACA bill in the Senate. And now we have a real pathway to get such a bill through the Senate.

I’m also glad that a six-year reauthorization of CHIP passed alongside yesterday’s bill to reopen the government. It was a long time coming. Despite bipartisan majorities that support CHIP in both Houses, the Republican Majority allowed CHIP to expire, leaving 9 million sick children in the lurch. That shameful wrong has been made right, but we should extend CHIP for a longer time period. The CBO projected that 10-years of CHIP, or a permanent reauthorization, would save the government $6 billion. How could that be? Because fewer children will go into the exchange, fewer will need subsidies, because CHIP is an efficient, well-run, and successful program. That’s a no brainer and we should make that happen.

Still, Mr. President, the Senate has three weeks in which to conclude a lot of work.

A consensus has not yet been found on the budget, on health care legislation, on disaster aid, and, as I mentioned, on immigration.

On each of these issues, the President has been either impossible to pin down or completely absent. This hooey that President Trump was involved in the negotiations…pretty invisible to me. President Trump’s inability to negotiate with Congress is what caused the three-day government shutdown from which we’ve just emerged.

If we’re going to get all of these things done, the Senate will have to work its will.

On the budget, we must lift the spending caps for defense and urgent domestic priorities. Just as our military needs the resources it requires to do the tough job we ask of them, we have critical issues to address here at home.

It is equally crucial to us, not more, not less, that we deal with the opioid crisis. Where so many men and women – young men and young women in the flower of their lives – are passing on because of addiction and not enough enforcement of the borders, particularly preventing fentanyl from coming in, and not enough treatment. So that when a young person, whether it’s a veteran or anybody else, has this horrible addiction, they get the treatment to overcome it. 

Veterans – they have to wait so long on line, many of them with PTSD for opioid treatment, many for other ailments. They shouldn’t have to. They weren’t waiting on line when they were in Afghanistan or Iraq fighting for us. 

And pensions. The heartland of America, for decades, has been our industrial complexes. Our industrial might in our states, our central states. These men and women, every week, every month, put money into their pension plans. And now because of the vicissitudes of the stock market and management, that money is not there. It’s our job through the PBGC to give them the pensions they deserve. No one is going to get rich on a pension, but at least you can retire in a life of some dignity. 

On top of that, we must get a health care package done. The bills proposed by Sen. Nelson and Sen. Collins on reinsurance, the bills proposed by Sens. Murray and Alexander on CSRs, as well as community health centers, the extenders which help so many of our rural hospitals, and other healthcare issues, have to get done. 

We must pass a disaster relief package. Many of our states need help, just as New York needed help several years ago when we didn’t get all the support we wanted from the very states that are now asking us for money. 

And we must finally pass a bill to protect the Dreamers.

The American people are clamoring for our two parties to work together to get things done. After a year of partisanship and strife, during which the governing Majority hardly attempted to compromise, now we must move forward in a bipartisan way if we’re going to finish the task ahead.

On the budget, on health care, on disaster aid, and on DACA.