Schumer Floor Remarks On The Chaos In The Trump Administration, Support For The New York State Climate Leadership And Community Protection Act, And Urging Republican Senators To Not Confirm Matthew Kacsmaryk

June 19, 2019

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the chaos within the Trump Administration – in its border policy, its foreign policy and the Trump Administration itself – his support for the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act in New York, and urging Republican Senators to not confirm Matthew Kacsmaryk to be the United States District Judge for the Northern District of Texas. Below are his remarks which can also be found here.

Now, if there’s one word to describe the state of the Trump Administration, it is “chaos.” The administration’s policy at the border is in chaos. The administration’s foreign policy is in chaos. And the Trump Administration itself is in chaos, with vacancies in so many agencies, people within the administration fighting with each other, and the president tweeting away, even if it’s unconnected to the people who actually administer the policies. So, even though this has been a constant theme of the Trump presidency—the chaos within—it is getting worse and more alarming.

On the border, the President announces a new, cockamamie policy almost every day. A national emergency to build a wall. Tariffs with Mexico. Shutting down the border entirely. Mass arrests and deportations inside our borders. Many of these “policies” were announced by tweet, with little or no thought, or force of action behind them. Not one of them has been implemented, even though the president could implement many on his own. Most were tossed aside as casually as they were announced—and it’s easy to see why. The policies he’s announced at the border are cruel, inhumane, ineffective, and most are impossible to carry out.

Meanwhile, the Trump Administration is cutting off security assistance to Central American countries, the one thing his administration was doing to stem migration and address the root causes in the first place. Even on the issue the president talks about most, the chaos of his administration is making the problem exponentially worse, not better.

And it doesn’t get any better when it comes to the administration’s foreign policy. In response to increased activity from Iran, the president has now announced two deployments of one thousand troops or more without even explaining to the American people what is happening and why. As commander-in-chief, he owes it to the American people, and especially our troops, to clarify what he hopes to achieve in the Middle East. What is the strategy? What is the goal? What is the limit of what we will do? And what are the things we will do? Any foreign policy expert will tell you outlining these things helps the strategy and help builds support for it. Does the president have clear goals? Does he have a strategy? Well once again when he wakes up in the morning and thinks one day, he tweets about, and then the next day he tweets something else or tweets something different or contradictory.

We have no earthly clue to the president’s strategy or goals, because, like everything else in his administration, his foreign policy is wracked by chaos.

And the Trump Administration in terms of its personnel and leadership, is in chaos as well. Yesterday, the president’s choice for Secretary of Defense withdrew. Where was the vetting? Why wasn’t this known by the White House, long before he got to this level?

And so now, the most powerful military in the world has been without a Senate-confirmed secretary since Secretary Mattis resigned in December of last year—six months without a confirmed head of the DoD. How can we conduct a foreign policy, a military policy—with no head of DoD? The administration is escalating tensions in Iran and sending U.S. troops overseas without a permanent Defense Secretary, someone who is really in charge and thoroughly vetted at the helm.

And it’s not just the Defense Department where chaos reigns. The positions of Homeland Security Secretary, OMB Secretary, SBA Administrator, Ambassador to the UN, and even the Chief of Staff in the White House all are in the “acting” capacity. It’s a revolving door. People want to leave. Most people of substance can’t stand the chaos and misdirection from the president. And we have had less focused attention to issue after issue from this president than any in a very long time, because of chaos.

The institutions of our government under President Trump lack steady and experienced leadership. It’s a crisis of competence. The president is making decisions without proper counsel, preparation, or even communications between the relevant agencies. It’s policy by whim. The withdrawal of his Secretary of Defense nomination is only the latest example of an administration in chaos.

I raise these points not to disparage the president but because the swirling chaos of his administration hurts the American people. It has frustrated our ability to find real solutions at the border, stunted progress on issues Americans care about like infrastructure and health care. Above all, I fear the chaos in the White House could lead our country closer to a conflict with Iran that most Americans want to avoid.

In short, the amateur hour must end. The United States government is not an episode of “The Apprentice.”  It is real life, with real consequences. It is deadly serious business.  For the sake of the country, the Trump Administration needs to get its act together.

Now, on climate. When I come to the floor to speak on matters of legislation, it is almost always about legislation here in Congress. But in our federal system of government, the states too have enormous power to shape the current of events in our country. Today, I want to talk about a bill in my home state of New York that I believe will do just that.

A few weeks ago, I endorsed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act: a bill that would put New York on a course for a net-zero economy—meaning negligible to no carbon pollution—by the year 2050.

It’s an ambitious target, but we need ambition, because we live in unprecedented times. We are witnessing human-caused climate change in storms, floods, droughts, wildfires, and other extreme weather that has throttled our country in recent years. It’s caused loss of life and destruction of livelihoods, all over the country and all across the world. We must prioritize the urgency of climate change, and we must recognize the need to take bold steps to confront it aggressively. It’s unfortunate that here in Congress, because of our Republican colleagues, we don’t do a thing, not one single thing, on climate change. The bills the House has sent over, the bills that Democratic Senators have proposed, end up in Leader McConnell’s legislative graveyard. Nothing happens, and climate gets worse.

Thank God the states are doing something. And that’s why I supported the Climate bill in New York State, and why I’m so proud today that my state’s legislative leaders have reached an agreement that would clear the way for its passage, with a vote in the State Senate as soon as this evening.

I look forward to watching my state pass the most robust climate policy package passed by any state in the country, I’m proud of that fact. I hope that it serves as an example for other states to follow, another catalyst for the national debate about how we can tackle climate change and a reminder that we, in Congress, must do our part.

Finally, Leader McConnell comes to the floor often to laud the quality of his party’s judicial picks, but even the slightest scrutiny reveals that many of these judicial picks will disgrace the federal bench. Take the nominees we are considering this week—several have terrible records on women’s reproductive health, LGBTQ equality, and other issues. But Matthew Kacsmaryk, from the Northern District of Texas, takes the cake.

Mr. Kacsmaryk has demonstrated a hostility to the LGBTQ community bordering on paranoia. He has opposed marriage equality, he’s defended businesses that discriminate against people on sexual orientation, and he has opposed Equal Employment Opportunity Commission protections for people based on orientation.

Here’s what he said—this is man we’re giving a lifetime appointment to the federal bench—he said the nationwide right to marriage equality was a “road to potential tyranny.” He called the inclusion of LGBTQ protections in VAWA “a grave mistake.” He labeled the Equality Act a “public affirmation of the lie that the human person is an autonomous blob of Silly Putty, unconstrained by nature or biology, and that marriage, sexuality, gender identity, and even the unborn child must yield to the erotic desires of liberated adults.”

This is a judge? This is someone who is weighing both sides carefully? Who is giving equal consideration to plaintiffs and defendants? It’s unbelievable that this man has been nominated and he is not alone. The parade of narrow-minded, often bigoted people who we’re putting on the bench simply because they’ve been members of the Federalist Society is unprecedented in this country. Unprecedented.

Beyond his work for the anti-LGBTQ group called “First Liberty Institute”—which boasts luminaries as Jeffery Mateer, who said transgender children were “part of Satan’s plan”—Mr. Kacsmaryk has no judicial experience. None.

Why on earth is this man a nominee for a lifetime appointment? Why would my colleagues want to drape black robes over these bigoted views? Our judicial system is designed to protect liberties, not denigrate them.

One Republican Senator rightfully voiced concerns about this man’s fitness—where are the others? Where are the others?

I urge my friends on the other side to study this man’s record because any fair-minded look at his qualifications would demand a NO on his nomination.