Schumer Floor Remarks On Republicans’ Silence On Climate Change, And Warning President Trump Not To Settle For Weak Agreements With Either North Korea Or China

February 27, 2019

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today spoke on the Senate floor regarding Republicans’ silence on climate change and warned President Trump not to settle for weak agreements with either North Korea or China. Below are his remarks, which can also be viewed here:

Now Mr. President I heard Leader McConnell knocking the Green New Deal, I would ask the Leader, and were going to keep asking him, and every Republican in this chamber: what they would do about climate change?

So Leader McConnell, do you believe that climate change is real? Yes or no?

Second, do you believe that climate change, global warming, is caused by humans?

And three, do you believe that Congress should move to take immediate action to deal with the problem?

Until Leader McConnell and his Republican majority answer those questions, the games they’re playing here will have no meaning. This is not a debate, it’s a diversion, it’s a sham. Democrats will be introducing a resolution in a few days, shortly, that says we believe in these three things and we will be asking out Republicans do they support or oppose that resolution.

The silence of the Republican majority on climate change is enormous. Is it because the oil industry gives so much money to our republican friends? Is it because they’re anti-science? What’s the reasoning? Not a single bill has been brought to the floor to deal with climate change in the five years Leader McConnell has been Majority Leader. What is your plan Leader McConnell? What is your answer? We know what you don’t like, what do you like? Anything?

Now, M. President, the Trump Administration is in the middle of two crucial negotiations with foreign capitals, the results of which will have ramifications for decades.

In Vietnam, President Trump will meet with Chairman Kim to continue discussions over the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, while at the same time, Administration officials continue negotiations with Beijing over a major trade pact.

In both instances, President Trump would have the best chance of having success if he articulated clear objectives, and maintained a hard line until those objectives were achieved. For a time, that approach, the right approach, seemed to hold sway at the White House, as sanctions and tariffs brought both North Korea and China to the negotiating table. Recently, however, President Trump seems headed down the path of capitulation, on both North Korea and China, prepared to trade away our leverage in exchange for flimsy agreements.

The president can’t stick to a policy, even when it’s beginning to work – so eager is he for that quick photo-op.

There’s an old expression that March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. Well, based on all reports, when it comes to North Korea and China, spring is coming a little early at the White House. President Trump, on both China and North Korea, came in like a lion, with tough rhetoric and hardline policies. But now President Trump is poised to go out like a lamb, meekly accepting half-baked agreements from both capitals for the sheer sake of it.

In North Korea, the highest priority of US foreign policy has been the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, as well as the cessation of human rights abuses by the brutal, despotic, and murderous Kim regime.

But just this weekend, before leaving for Hanoi, President Trump said: “I don’t want to rush anybody, as long as there is no testing, we’re happy.” That’s a far cry from complete denuclearization and signals a dangerous softening of our position before the talks even started.

The irony of ironies: for all the talk of “maximum pressure” and “fire and fury,” President Trump’s stance on North Korea may wind up far weaker than Hillary Clinton’s. I know he doesn’t like to hear that, but the truth is the truth.

President Trump seems more interested in touting his “warm” relationship with Chairman Kim as an accomplishment in and of itself.  President Trump: calling a brutal autocrat a “friend” on Twitter is no substitute for actually achieving something for the American people in Hanoi.

I hate to say it, but it would be absolutely incredible and even pathetic if President Trump were giving in to North Korea for the sake of a photo-op to knock Michael Cohen’s hearing from the front page. But if the past behavior of the president is any guide, something like that is unfortunately, totally conceivable.

Now, the same situation is playing out with China. After starting down the right path, press reports indicate that President Trump appears ready to accept something far short of his initial aims. President Trump has already started promoting a “signing summit” at Mar-A-Lago before an agreement has even been inked. Just imagine how that undercuts our negotiators! To say he’s already going to sign something when were eyeball to eyeball with the Chinese! That’s not the art of the deal, that’s the art of capitulating. As the Times reported this morning, “Mr. Trump has grown impatient with the talks, and a consensus is growing in Washington that Mr. Trump will ultimately accept a weak deal.” Shame on him if he does. China is robbing and stealing our family jewels: American industrial know-how, American information technology. American’s ability to do things. When we’re good at it, China doesn’t let us in and compete unless we give them all of the knowledge of how to do it themselves, and China steals are intellectual property. Just two weeks ago, another hacking. And now we’re going to capitulate?

What the Times goes on to say is that “The Chinese have so far declined to make concrete commitments to reform their economy that the administration has demanded”, these are the words of the New York Times, including ending China’s practice of subsidizing companies, engaging in cyber-theft and forcing American companies to hand over intellectual property to Chinese partners in order to do business there.” Even our business community does not want our president to capitulate, I met with a bunch of them. They want him to stay strong, everyone wants him to stay strong, and now he’s caving. This president cannot take a policy and peruse it to its end. His attention span is so small, his desire for immediate gratification seems to be so large, that the American worker loses. And if we capitulate to China, that American worker loses for decades. That American worker’s children will lose.

So, I say to President Trump, it would be a momentous failure if you relent now and don’t receive meaningful, enforceable and verifiable commitments on structural reforms to China’s unfair trade policy. Simply buying more soybeans or buying more materials, planes, is not going to solve the structural problem. And in a few months China will continue to unfairly gain on us. Not right.

So I wonder, where are all the supposed hawks? Where is Secretary Pompeo on China and North Korea? Where is Ambassador Bolton? Do they feel they can argue internally with the president and he overrules them, and that’s that? What good is it of them being there? Oh yeah they could say “it would have been even worse if we weren’t there.” That’s not a way to do policy when either American safety, in regard to North Korea, or American economic prosperity in the future in regard to China, is at stake. I believe Ambassador Lighthizer has made a sincere effort to do the right thing on China, but his efforts are constrained by a president who seems intent on weakening his hand every few weeks. Again, where’s Bolton? Where’s Pompeo? Where are they? They’ve been hawks on these two issues their whole lives. And now they get in the administration and just go along, when they were among the loudest critics of President Obama and President Clinton? Not right, not good for America.

It just so happens that two of President Trump’s signature foreign policy issues will come to a head at roughly the same time. There are historic opportunities here: to make America safe by removing nuclear weapons from a rogue regime, and to end two decades of rapacious Chinese trade policy and finally put American companies on a level playing field with our largest competitor. If the president having brought the Chinese to the table with tough sanctions and tariffs, takes 10 percent or 20 percent of what we can, that will be very, very bad for this country, American workers, American incomes. As they continue to stay flat or decline, one of the main reasons is unfair trade practices by China. We have to be strong and tough, we can win this fight if we stay strong.

The bottom line is this: if over the course of one month, President Trump capitulates to both Beijing and Pyongyang, the foreign policy of his presidency will be in shambles. It will zig and zag to no real accomplishment. And more importantly, the national security and economic security of the American people will suffer greatly as a consequence.