Schumer Floor Remarks On President Trump’s Get-Nothing-Done Administration’s Impact On Infrastructure Negotiations

May 23, 2019

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today spoke on the Senate floor regarding President Trump’s get-nothing-done administration’s impact on infrastructure negotiations. Below are his remarks, which can also be viewed here:

Yesterday, as everyone knows now, Speaker Pelosi and I met with the president and a group of other Senators and Congress members to discuss the prospects for a bipartisan infrastructure bill. We went to the meeting with high hopes. The president, three weeks earlier, had said he would be willing to do a $2 trillion infrastructure bill and tell us how he’d pay for it.

Unfortunately, it was a very short meeting. The president walked out after a few minutes with the paltry excuse that he would not work to get things done for Americans unless Congress abdicated its constitutional duty to provide oversight of the executive branch. His motives were transparent. He knows darn well that these investigations should and will go forward. He had nothing to say on infrastructure. It was typical of the president. He makes a boast that he wants to do something and then has no follow-through.

This administration has become an erratic, helter-skelter, get-nothing-done administration. Even on infrastructure—where there’s usually some bipartisan agreement—he couldn’t even come to the table and talk. He had to throw a temper tantrum and walk out.

Presidents throughout our history have worked with the other party while being investigated. Every president knows—it’s a fact—that Congress will do oversight. Some of it won’t be pleasant for any president. President Obama didn’t like oversight, President Bush didn’t like oversight, President Clinton didn’t like oversight, President H. W. Bush didn’t like oversight, President Reagan didn’t like oversight. But none of them, Democrat nor Republican, said ‘I’m going to stop the government from functioning. I’m going to refuse to help hundreds of millions of Americans who need help in one way or another because I don’t like Congress fulfilling its constitutional responsibility.

The bottom line is simple: the president was merely looking for any excuse, however inelegant, however transparent, to wriggle out of working with Democrats on a much-needed infrastructure bill.

But nothing about yesterday’s meeting at the White House changes the fact that we have serious infrastructure demands in our country. Nothing about yesterday’s meetings changes the fact that a substantial investment in infrastructure can boost our economy, put millions of Americans to work, create green jobs and green energy sources, and meet the demands—the ever-growing demands—of the new 21st Century.

We came to the meeting with the president with serious intentions to work with him on a large bipartisan bill. He had asked the night before in his letter for where we want to put the money. I brought to him a 35-page proposal with ideas on how to craft one. It talked about things that we needed to do—repair and rebuild our old roads and bridges; our water and sewers; build a power grid so that we can bring clean energy from parts of the country blessed with wind and sun to other energy-needy parts. To deal with infrastructure in a way that creates broadband for all the rural homes that don’t have it, and all the inner-city homes that don’t have it. To create green jobs, encourage electric vehicles and other kinds of vehicles that reduce the output of carbon into the air. To create much more energy-efficient homes and schools.

There are many demands. A comprehensive proposal - the president might not agree with it - but we were there, prepared to roll up our sleeves, work and come up with a plan. But unfortunately, the president had no plan. Despite his promise that three weeks earlier he would have a plan, he had none. Two nights before, he said ‘well let’s not discuss infrastructure until we discuss USMCA/NAFTA.’ Then that morning, he just didn’t even take a seat. He stood up, obviously agitated, said that the investigations were wrong, and stalked out.

We left the meeting disappointed in both the president’s decision and demeanor, but America can be assured Democrats will continue to try and find ways to move the ball forward on this important issue of roads and bridges and broadband and power, with or without the president.

Democrats believe in infrastructure, plain and simple. We believe infrastructure is an urgent priority for the country and this Congress. We believe we need to rebuild existing infrastructure – the roads, bridges, ports and sewers—and build the infrastructure of tomorrow, like wind and solar and a new power grid, and broadband to rural and inner-city America.

We believe our next investment in infrastructure must be substantial. We believe we can pay for it without asking the middle class to shoulder the burden.

We believe a new, 21st Century infrastructure program is one of the best ways—one of the very best ways—to create millions of long-term, good paying jobs to boost our economy, and to help combat climate change.

So I say to my colleagues here in the Senate, my Republican colleagues: despite the president’s unwillingness to work on anything that benefits the American people according to him, I say to my colleagues here in the Senate, my Republican colleagues - let’s move forward on an infrastructure bill. Let’s put together a large, strong, well-funded, and clean infrastructure bill.

Members of both sides should want the opportunity to work on something that will benefit every constituency in every state in America. Members should want to tell the American people that they’re working to bring jobs to their states, broadband to rural and underserved urban communities, working together to improve the economy and environment with a clean, green infrastructure bill.

There is no reason—no reason—why the Senate should not pursue a bipartisan infrastructure bill. Congress has taken the lead before, and Congress can take the lead again—no matter what the president does. Just because President Trump doesn’t want to lead doesn’t mean that our work on infrastructure is over—not by a long shot.