Schumer Floor Remarks On Senator Enzi’s Decision Not To Seek Re-Election, The Need For Special Counsel Mueller To Testify Without Delay, And The Need For Disaster Relief Funding For All Americans Affected By Natural Disasters

May 6, 2019

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today spoke on the Senate floor regarding Senator Enzi’s (R-WY) decision not to seek re-election, the need for Special Counsel Mueller to testify without delay, and the need for disaster relief funding for all Americans affected by natural disasters. Below are his remarks, which can also be viewed here:

Now Madam President, over the weekend, our friend the distinguished Senator from Wyoming, Sen. Enzi, announced that he wouldn’t seek re-election. It’s no secret that Sen. Enzi and I approach legislation from two very different standpoints, but I have always found him to be thoughtful and decent – qualities that have made him a good Senator and a respected voice for the people of Wyoming.

When Sen. Enzi was elected, he was this chamber’s only accountant by trade. Perhaps it was destiny then that he will end his tenure at the top of the Budget Committee. Despite his prominent perch and decades in Washington’s corridors of power, Sen. Enzi still retains the accountant’s distaste for the flashy. He has eschewed the limelight and the television cameras – something the two of us have in common.

If Senator Enzi will forgive me that joke, I’d like to wish him and his family the best in all his future endeavors; that is, of course, after he concludes his final year and a half in Washington as one of Wyoming’s longest-serving Senators.

Now, on another matter. In the aftermath of Attorney General Barr’s testimony before the Judiciary Committee, it is now clearer than ever that the Senate must hear from Special Counsel Mueller.

We need Special Counsel Mueller to testify because, as we have seen, the attorney general has shown us that he cannot be trusted on the matter of the Russia investigation. After the special counsel delivered his findings, the Attorney General took a 480-page document, turned it into to 4 pages – producing a document so inadequate that it even prompted the special counsel to raise concerns in writing. The normally very reticent special counsel, I might add. The attorney general, meanwhile, has speculated, without evidence, about the special counsel’s reasoning. And he has done so, we have now learned, without having reviewed any of the underlying evidence. 

To make matters worse, Mr. Barr also refused to appear before the House Judiciary Committee, demonstrating his contempt for the oversight responsibilities of Congress.

The bottom line is this: the Attorney General’s word cannot be the end of the matter. Special Counsel Mueller must testify.

Unfortunately, however, the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee has, thus far, been far less than welcoming. And now the president has made it clear that he believes Mueller should not testify.

I want to remind this chamber: President Trump repeatedly tried to fire the special counsel. Then he called the special counsel conflicted and corrupted and refused to be interviewed by him. And now he’s trying to silence the special counsel completely.

For a man who constantly proclaims his innocence and the “exoneration” of the Mueller report, President Trump suspiciously objects to Special Counsel Mueller’s public testimony.

Thankfully, Congress isn’t subject to the will of the president. My friend, Senator Graham, has an obligation – an obligation – to ask the special counsel to testify without constraints. I will continue to press him to call for a hearing.

Finally, Mr. President, we’ve been trying for weeks now to come up with a package of disaster assistance for Americans impacted by fires and floods, typhoons and hurricanes that would be acceptable to my friends on the other side of the aisle. Meanwhile, the president continues to wage a bizarre and fact-impaired campaign against millions of American citizens living in Puerto Rico.

This morning, the president claimed – incredibly – that Puerto Rico has received $91 billion in recovery funds while other states have been left behind. That defies the facts. He also suggests that Puerto Rico should be thankful for the funding they’ve already received and accused Democrats of selling out other parts of the country.

There’s a lot to unpack there, so here goes.

For one, Puerto Rico has not received $91 billion. Not even close. At most, Puerto Rico has received $11 billion dollars, while billions more – already allocated by the Congress, Democrats and Republicans – are being withheld by the Trump administration itself. Just last week, the administration missed a self-imposed deadline to advance the release of $8 billion dollars in funding to help the island rebuild and prepare for future disasters.

Second, it is galling, even by this president’s standards, to say that Puerto Rico should be thankful for disaster aid. The president hasn’t said that Alabama should be thankful for disaster aid. He hasn’t said that Texas should be thankful, or Florida, or the Carolinas. But for some reason, the president implies that aid to Puerto Rico is some kind of favor he’s doing.

I’d remind the president, helping parts of our country recover from natural disasters is not a favor. It’s what we do as Americans. What we’ve always done. Until the president’s heavy hand disrupted the legislation that Democrats and Republicans had crafted and prepared to pass. When a natural disaster strikes one corner of the country, Americans put politics aside and come together to help each other out.

The president, however, is failing our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico and all those rebuilding their lives and communities after disasters. And for those here who say, “Well let’s just pass this bill now,” the House won’t pass this bill. The House will not pass a bill without full aid to Puerto Rico. Neither will this chamber. And so what are we talking about here? We’re talking about a president who came in, for some reason did not want to give aid to Puerto Rico while giving to everywhere else, even though Puerto Rico’s disaster probably per capita affected them worse than any other state. And they are American citizens I remind the president. And now he’s bollocks-ing the whole thing up.

Both sides – both sides – here in Congress, Democrats and Republicans, ought to disavow the president’s position and pass relief for all Americans affected by natural disasters. Democrats are ready to support disaster relief funding for every corner of this country: the West Coast, the Midwest, the South, and Puerto Rico. As our negotiators continue to make progress on a disaster package, I fervently hope we come to a resolution very soon.

I yield the floor.