Schumer Floor Remarks On The Election Of Vice President Joseph R. Biden To Be The 46th President Of The United States.November 9, 2020
Washington, D.C. — Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor on the election of President-elect Joseph Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Senator Schumer also outlined the need to pass a strong, comprehensive COVID-relief bill that meets the needs of the American people. Senator Schumer called on Republican leaders to unequivocally condemn the President’s outrageous and false voter fraud rhetoric and work to ensure the peaceful transfer of power on January 20th. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:
Last Tuesday, our country conducted the most sacred process in our democratic system of government: a national election. It was an election unlike any other in modern history. Much of the voting was done before Election Day itself, as a global pandemic forced states to adjust their balloting and voting procedures. The counting of the vote took a little longer than most Americans might have expected or hoped. Indeed, some of the final tabulations are not yet complete. It is still to be determined which party will hold a majority in this chamber.
But we do know a few things.
First, and most importantly, former Vice President Joe Biden will become the 46th President of the United States.
Our dear colleague, the distinguished Senator from California, Kamala Harris, will be the next Vice President of the United States.
And on January 20th, the country will finally turn the page on one of the most divisive and chaotic chapters in our history.
President-elect Joe Biden has told the country that it is time to come together and heal, to unify once again to fight not our political opponents but our common enemies: disease, poverty, and injustice. There is no person better suited to the task than the former Vice President. He will be a great president, for all Americans.
Vice President-elect Harris, meanwhile, has just made history four times over. She will be the first African-American woman, the first Asian-American woman, the first bi-racial woman—the first woman, period—to ever serve as Vice President of the United States.
I congratulate the former Vice President, his wife Jill, our colleague Senator Harris and her husband Doug, on their hard-fought victory.
More Americans voted for President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris than any ticket in our nation’s history.
They have given them an enormous burden—a decisive mandate—to take the reins of the executive branch and marshal this government into action. For they will assume the high offices of the presidency and the vice presidency at a time of unprecedented challenge.
Our great nation faces the greatest economic crisis in seventy-five years; the greatest public health crisis in a century. Extraordinary inequalities of wealth and income strike at the heart of the idea of America as a land of equal opportunity. Racial disparities in our society strike at the heart of the idea of America as a place of equal justice. Climate change threatens the very future of our planet.
The American people have placed their faith in President-elect Biden to confront those challenges head-on: to relieve their suffering, to repair our democracy, to recover our economy, and rebuild a country, and a planet, for this generation and for the next. I have no doubt their faith will be rewarded. But I also have no doubt that the task ahead is daunting.
While the country prepares for a change in administration, it must also brace for the darkest days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the weekend, the United States recorded its 10 millionth case. We are now confirming nearly 100,000 new cases of COVID-19 per day, on track to eclipse more than a million new cases per week.
As impatient as we all are for our lives and our livelihoods to return to normal, experts are warning us that the worst phase is still ahead.
The quickest way to turn to the tide, crush the virus, and get back to normal is to do what we should have been doing all along: take the virus seriously, listen to the scientists, and dedicate the necessary resources to get the job done.
President-elect Biden is already preparing to do just that. Today, he named several health experts and scientific advisors to serve on a COVID-19 task force. It sends the right signal that—while the President-elect will not assume office for another few months—his administration will hit the ground running. And its policy on COVID-19 will, refreshingly, be dictated by facts and by science.
It is a major turning point that—soon—we will have an administration that actually acknowledges that this is a health care crisis; that knows our economy won’t fully recover until we solve it. I am confident that a Biden Administration will do that, but Congress must play its part too.
Nearly 15 million Americans have lost health insurance through their employer. Democrats have a solution to that problem. Let’s get it done and make sure those families have health coverage.
Medicaid programs across the country are experiencing a huge influx of new enrollees, while state budgets struggle to bear the added costs. The HEROES Act ensures that Medicaid is strengthened and secured for the duration of this pandemic. Let’s get that done too.
And today, we received news that the entire world has been waiting for: a U.S. company has developed a vaccine for COVID-19 that, according to the preliminary research in the news reports, is 90% effective. The FDA said it would approve a vaccine that was 50% effective. So while the FDA needs to review the vaccine, to have a vaccine that is 90% effective is about as good as it gets. We Democrats will do everything we can to make sure this vaccine, or any vaccine, is distributed quickly, fairly, and equitably.
The challenge now is one of scale and one of delivery. Congress should fund a national vaccination program, and the administration—whether it’s the Trump Administration or the Biden Administration—must do everything possible to reach minority and underserved communities, combat vaccine hesitancy and ensure that the vaccines are free to everyone.
This will be a massive and complex undertaking unlike anything our country has seen, and we must all work together – from the President to Congress down to local community health departments – to ensure that it gets done right, and it gets done fairly, and it gets done equitably.
So while the incoming administration prepares to take on the surge of COVID-19, Congress should pass a strong, comprehensive COVID-relief bill that actually meets the needs of the American people.
When it comes to health care, education, testing and tracing, unemployment benefits, and many other critical issues, this Republican majority has proposed totally inadequate solutions. As the disease surges across our country once again, there is no time for inadequate solutions.
I hope—now that the election is behind us—our colleagues are ready to come together in search of an adequate, bipartisan solution rather than the partisan, stunt voting legislating we’ve suffered for the past few months.
Now, I must spend a moment on something that will garner too much attention over the next few weeks: baseless claims by the president and his supporters that there has been widespread voter fraud, and that the election was somehow rigged or stolen from President Trump.
This kind of rhetoric is extremely dangerous, and extremely poisonous to our democracy.
As in any campaign, the president has a right to bring legal challenges or request recounts where state law allows. However, there is no legal right to file frivolous claims. Lawsuits must have a basis in facts and evidence. And make no mistake: there has been no evidence of any significant or widespread voter fraud.
Joe Biden won this election fair and square. The margins of his victory are growing by the day. And former President George W. Bush, commendably, acknowledged that fact when he congratulated President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris on their victory.
Now Republican leaders in Congress should follow his lead and do the right thing.
Republican leaders must unequivocally condemn the President’s rhetoric and work to ensure the peaceful transfer of power on January 20th. I have been heartened to see a few of my Republican colleagues— its three, I believe—congratulate the winning ticket, but too many, including the Republican Leader, have been silent or sympathetic to the president’s fantasies.
Even some non-partisan members of the current administration have refused to move forward with the formal process for an incoming administration. According to the Washington Post, the administrator of the General Services Administration has declined to sign a letter allowing President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team to formally begin its work.
It does not matter whether the President is happy about the results of the election. The peaceful transfer of power is a hallmark—the bedrock—of our democracy and it must proceed unimpeded. The GSA Administrator should sign the paperwork immediately in order to allow the important work of the presidential transition to proceed.
America remains in the middle of a worsening health and economic crises and there is no excuse, none, for the outgoing administration to impede the new administration’s preparations to deal with these urgent challenges.
There is no law or requirement that President Trump concede the election or leave the office of the presidency with grace. But as History prepares to write the final few sentences on the Trump presidency, it will surely note how this president—and his Republican allies here in Congress—treated our democracy on his way out the door.