Schumer Floor Remarks On Republicans’ Failure To Provide Any Support To Transit Systems And State And Local Workers Suffering Because Of COVID in Their Partisan Coronavirus Bill

September 10, 2020

Washington, D.C.—Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding Senate Republicans refusal to provide stimulus funding for an essential industry: transit. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

COVID-19 has changed nearly every aspect of American life, but Senate Republicans and the White House only want to address the barest sliver of the problems in our country. So this week, I’ve been pointing out many of the things that the Republican proposals leave out.

Yesterday I spoke about the plight of live venues and the need to save that essential part of our culture and our economy. Today I want to address another topic that has received far too little attention from the Senate Republicans: transit.

Public transportation systems are the lifeblood of great American cities; regional networks connect workers to jobs and consumers and businesses.

As anyone can imagine, during the pandemic—while transit authorities like the MTA have continued round the clock operations to serve the people—ridership on public transportation has plummeted, leaving them in a state of crisis.

God forbid if public transportation was forced to shutter or drastically reduce operations—like on Long Island were they rely on the Long Island Rail Road—the damage to regional economies and the national economy would be severe.

But there is not a penny, not one single penny, in the Republican bill to help public transit systems. Or even help state and local governments, which fund a lot of the transit systems. Not a penny.

My Republican friends seem to look at this crisis through a narrow lens. Some of my colleagues have criticized Democrats for the outrageous idea of wanting to help our state governments and the essential public services they provide.

Well, I have news for our colleagues. These regional transit systems are mission critical to the national economy. It’s not just a New York problem, or a New Jersey problem, or an Illinois problem, it’s a national crisis.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority alone carries about 40% of the nation’s transit riders and drives as much as 10% of the national GDP. 10%.

The facts argue for heavy investment in public transportation systems to stanch the bleeding and jumpstart the economy when the pandemic wanes. The lack of investment in transit systems in the Republican legislation is unacceptable.