Schumer Floor Remarks On President Trump’s Failure To Confront The Coronavirus And Republicans’ Obstruction Of Coronavirus Legislation During Record Number Of New Cases

July 2, 2020

Washington, D.C.—Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding President Trump’s failure to adequately confront the coronavirus and Senate Republicans’ obstruction of COVID relief legislation during record new outbreaks. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

 Two numbers sum up the state of America today: 52,788, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases yesterday, and 1.4 million, the number of unemployment claims filed this week.

 In the next few months, these numbers will be far more important than the job numbers released this morning in determining the long-term health of our economy and the health of this country.

 These statistics I mentioned would be harrowing during February, March, April, or May, during the initial surge and rapid spread of the disease. They would have been distressing even then. But here at the beginning of July, 6 months into this crisis, long after other countries have experienced a rapid decline of COVID-19, it is shocking that the United States is hitting ever-grimmer milestones.

There is no doubt that much of the responsibility for this debacle, the COVID debacle, falls on the shoulders of President Trump, who failed to prepare our nation for the initial surge, failed to organize a national supply chain of PPE, failed to develop a national strategy for testing and contact tracing, failed to even communicate the depth of the challenge our country faces.

And much of this proves true, even today: the Washington Post reported this morning that Arizona, which is experiencing a huge surge in cases, still doesn’t have the testing supplies they need because of a national supply-chain failure.

Even after 2.6 million infections and 120,000 American fatalities, the president said yesterday “I think we’re going to be very good with the coronavirus. I think at some point that’s going to sort of just disappear.”

Can you imagine the bubble this man is in? Only concerned about scratching and stroking his own ego—and not about what’s going on in the country—so he can just dismiss the seriousness of this, the most serious health and economic crisis we’ve had in decades? It’s amazing.

That was President Trump yesterday—“we’re going to be very good with coronavirus”—on the same day that the United States reported the most new cases of coronavirus in a single day, ever.

The president is so eager to declare victory and pat himself on the back and move on, that he’s ignoring reality completely. The June jobs report showed modest growth, but we know that conditions have worsened since the survey was completed in the middle of the month. Experts now believe that as much as 10 percent of the workforce has lost their job permanently; Americans of color accounting for a disproportionate share.

Again, in terms of the long-term health of the economy, the most concerning and important number is the number of new COVID cases. The number of COVID cases, health-related, is the number one effect on the long-term health of the economy. President Trump seems oblivious to that fact, which almost everyone who has studied this issue knows. 

The President’s own CDC Director says the number of cases may be ten times higher than reported. Imagine that – we could have 26 million people infected and likely many, many more to come, but the President assumes that the coronavirus—and the economy—will just take care of itself.

If President Trump reacts to the jobs report like he has reacted to COVID—and says we’re in the clear, we don’t have to do anything—we’ll soon be in even worse trouble than we are today.

Here in the Senate, the Republican majority has been out to lunch since we passed the CARES Act way back in March. It’s been over three months since the Republican Senate has considered major COVID-relief legislation. Weekly unemployment claims are measured in the millions. States are shedding public service jobs in the tens of thousands. The number of new cases is accelerating in nearly half of our states.

Still—the Republican majority, in the words of its Majority Leader, “has yet to feel the urgency of acting.” Still – the Republican Leader says that we must “assess the conditions” in the country before providing relief to our citizens.

Just how much more assessment do we need when we remember those two numbers? 52,000 new cases, 1.4 million people applying for unemployment.

Every day this week, Senate Democrats have come to the floor to plead with our colleagues to take up legislation to help the millions of American workers and businesses that are struggling right now. Every day this week, Senate Republicans have blocked our requests. Rental assistance: blocked. Food assistance: blocked. A moratorium on evictions: blocked. Resources for schools and nursing homes, state and local governments, Indian country and elections: blocked, blocked, blocked, blocked, and blocked.

Just how long—just how long—will this Republican Senate majority prevent the American people from getting the aid they so desperately need?

Now, Republican Senators are saying that we have to do another bill before August. I’m glad they’re finally talking seriously about a fourth phase of coronavirus legislation, though the need has been obvious for months. But the Republican Leader, at the moment, insists that the next bill will be “written in his office.”

“Written in his office” – that’s the same one-party, take-it-or-leave-it, partisan approach that delayed the CARES Act and utterly failed on policing reform.

Leader McConnell likes to remind us that we need to make a law, not a point. Well, to make a law, Leader, you need both parties. You need both chambers of Congress, and you need the signature of the President. Starting the next phase of COVID legislation in the Majority Leader’s office is exactly what you’d do if you wanted to make a point, not a law.

The House of Representatives already has a bill that it has passed. It needs to be a part of the equation here. In order to make a law, both parties and both chambers should have a seat at the table. That’s how we got the last phase of COVID legislation done. And it’s the best way to get it done this time.