Schumer Floor Remarks On Republicans’ Unnecessary And Harmful Delays Of Further Action On The Coronavirus Pandemic And Policing Reform

June 29, 2020

Washington, D.C.—Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor, denouncing Senate Republicans for their failed sense of urgency to address the coronavirus health and economic crises and public outcry necessitating bold and comprehensive policing reform legislation. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

Now, finally on COVID-19. Unfortunately, COVID-19 continues to surge in several states. Florida, Texas, and Arizona are reporting new highs in case numbers. Last Friday, there were 45,000 new cases nationwide, the most cases in a single day.

As the public health crisis continues, our country is facing one of the greatest economic challenges since the Great Depression. Over one fifth of the workforce has requested unemployment assistance. State, local, and tribal governments are on life support and have laid off over 1.6 million workers. Our perennially underfunded schools are fighting an uphill battle to prepare for the fall.

As Americans struggle to make rent payments and face potential evictions, as our health care and childcare systems face unprecedented burdens, Senate Republicans have been missing in action.

Over a month ago, Leader McConnell said that Senate Republicans “have yet to feel the urgency of acting immediately.” It seems like he really meant it. It’s been nearly three months since we passed the CARES Act on a bipartisan basis, 96 to nothing, and over 45 days since the House passed the HEROES Act, legislation that would deliver sorely-needed resources to states, essential workers, American families, and our health care system.

But Leader McConnell continues to say that Republicans need to “assess the conditions in the country” and insists that any future emergency relief bill will be “written in his office.”

‘Assess the conditions in the country,’ when we have more unemployment than any time since the Great Depression? When a pandemic is killing tens of thousands of Americans monthly? Ignore that? ‘Assess the conditions?’ And for Leader McConnell to then say the bill will be written in his office?

Has he learned any lessons from COVID-2? COVID-3? COVID-3.5? The Justice in Policing Act? When you try to do something major on a partisan basis, nothing happens! And America desperately needs something to happen.

Leader McConnell knows he has to negotiate if he wants to pass legislation. He’s been around here a long time, he knows that. His refusal to engage in bipartisan talks on policing reform shows that maybe our Republican friends are not interested in passing bipartisan legislation. But that’s what needs to happen. Bipartisan negotiations on policing reform and bipartisan negotiations on COVID.

So this morning, Speaker Pelosi and I sent a letter to Leader McConnell urging him to join Democrats and sit at the negotiating table for the next round of COVID relief legislation.

We are on the precipice of several deadlines: for millions upon millions of Americans, another rent payment is due this week; states are planning their budgets right now before the new fiscal year on July 1st; the emergency boost in unemployment will run out by the end of next month.

So this week, Senate Democrats will force action on the floor on some of the most urgently needed measures to help working Americans, starting this evening, when Democrats will ask consent to pass crucial federal support for state, local, and tribal governments.

I’ll have more to say about the issue this evening, but I do want my Republican colleagues to hear the words of state and local officials from across the country.

Today, the “Big Seven”—the national associations that represent governors, mayors, state legislatures, counties and city managers, all bipartisan groups with many Republican members, coming from the deepest red states to the darkest blue—wrote Senators a letter pleading for federal support and warning of the dire consequences of delay.

They write—these are the seven organizations representing governors, legislatures, and counties and towns and cities:  “Previous federal bills responding to COVID-19 provided important support…yet none allow for the replacement of billions of lost revenue due to COVID-19. More robust and direct stimulus is needed for state and local governments to both rebuild the economy and maintain essential services in education, health care, emergency operations, public safety and more.…Months have gone by and our communities continue to suffer. Americans have a history of standing together in times of crisis and must do so now.”

Republican colleagues, please listen to those words. Leader McConnell please listen, these are your own states, they are included here. They’re demanding relief. To say we still don’t see an urgent need, to say maybe we’ll get around to it in a month, to say the legislation will be written in Leader McConnell’s office…it is all setting up for failure and the desperately needed lack of relief that America needs. 

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