Schumer Floor Remarks On The Anniversary Of The Passage Of The 19th Amendment In The Senate And The Need To Schedule An All-Senators Briefing On Election Security ASAP

June 4, 2019

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today gave the following floor remarks regarding the anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment in the U.S. Senate and the need to schedule an all-senators briefing on election security as soon as possible. Below are his remarks, which can also be viewed here: 

Today, we observe the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment by the United States Senate: a critical step in a long march for equality that began at the very founding of our country, when Abigail Adams importuned her husband to “remember the ladies” when drafting the constitution—a reminder that fell on deaf ears. It was a march that gathered numbers and force at Seneca Falls, under the leadership of brave New Yorkers like Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and found expression in the abolitionist movement. And while that march for equality under law achieved a great-and-long-overdue victory a hundred years ago, it is still not over. We have a lot to do. Wearing the yellow rose is wonderful, but it is not enough.

When women in the workplace do one hundred percent of the work but only earn eighty percent of the pay as a man in the same position, that march is not over.

When good legislation like the House-passed Violence Against Women Act to provide justice to survivors of domestic violence and stalking languishes in this chamber, in a legislative graveyard, because the NRA is opposed to it…that march is not over.

And when the states are passing laws to make it harder for minorities to vote, when state parties gerrymander districts to limit minority representation, and when the Supreme Court pretends that discrimination no longer exists in this country and guts the Voting Rights Act…the march to equality, universal suffrage, is not over.

Without universal suffrage, democracy is incomplete. That was the lesson of the women who organized, protested, and compelled their government to pass the 19th Amendment, by the slimmest of margins. So let us not consider June 4th a day to look back with complacency and remark on our historical progress, but rather, as a day to look forward and recognize what we still must achieve.

There is no shortage of good work we can take up here in the Senate—paycheck fairness, VAWA, the Equality Act, voting rights, election reform—to make sure all Americans can enjoy the full blessings of liberty. These pieces of legislation have passed the House, and end up in the legislative graveyard of the Senate. I can think of no better way to honor the legacy of the suffragists than to continue their work on breaking down barriers and strengthening our democracy.

Finally, on election security. Today’s anniversary should also be a reminder of how precious our elections are; how we must guarantee that they continue to be fair and to be free. Last week, Mr. Mueller reminded us once again that Russia conducted a malign campaign to interfere in our 2016 elections. Director Wray and our intelligence community leaders have issued clear and unambiguous warnings that foreign powers will try to do it again in 2020.

The Senate must act on this. How can we sit by idly, with our arms folded, complacently, while foreign countries try to interfere with our democracy, our beautiful, wonderful democracy? We have bipartisan legislation ready, right now, to harden our election infrastructure and hold foreign powers accountable for trying to meddle in our elections. But so far, much to our dismay, much to the nation’s dismay, Leader McConnell has not indicated any openness to have this body consider them.

Frustrating as that is, we’ve made progress on my request for an all-Senators briefing on the threats of election meddling. We should hear from our leaders of the FBI and of Homeland Security about the upcoming threats. Director Wray has already said something publicly about this. Now the good news here, I spoke to the Republican Leader, Leader McConnell, and he has agreed to hold such an all Senators briefing. We haven’t gotten a date yet. I urge him to hold it as soon as possible, and certainly, it should take place during this work period.

This briefing should be only the beginning, the beginning only, of a larger conversation about the steps we must take to secure our elections. Ladies and gentlemen, Democrats and Republicans, Americans: this is not optional. There aren’t two sides to this issue. Our democracy was attacked, and we—both Democrats and Republicans—must take steps to prevent an attack in the future.

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