Schumer Floor Remarks On The Failure Of The Republican Tax Bill And Urging The United States Navy To Name A Ship After Senior Chief Petty Officer Shannon Kent

June 13, 2019

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the failure of the Republican tax bill and urging the United States Navy to name a ship after New York Native and American hero, Senior Chief Petty Officer Shannon Kent. Below are his remarks, which can also be found here.

Madam President, a year and a half ago, as the Senate debated the Republican tax bill, and Democrats predicted that giving an enormous tax cut to big corporations and the super-rich would not trickle down to working Americans. We predicted then, as usual, that corporations would find a way to direct those newfound profits to themselves—not to their workers, not to their community, not for the good of the country. Well, our Republican colleagues protested. They said, ‘Trickle down works.’ They talked about tax cuts, they tried to deliberately avoid who they were designing the tax cuts to benefit, but it was largely the very wealthy and the very powerful corporations. Well, and they said, ‘oh, well, it’s going to benefit everybody.’ Well, here we go. The analyses keep pouring in of what a sham, a disgrace that this tax bill was, especially for middle-class, average Americans.

An analysis by Just Capital yesterday showed that fifty-six percent of the tax savings from the Trump tax bill have gone to shareholders in the form of stock buybacks or direct distribution. Fifty-six percent, a majority. You know how much workers got while the shareholders, most of them wealthy, got fifty-six percent? Workers got six percent of the whole benefit of the tax bill by Just Capital, and that is not a left-wing group. It’s a group composed of people who know all about and participate in corporations and finance.

And if you don’t believe that one, this morning, the Business Roundtable, the 200 largest CEOs in America, hardly a left-wing radical group, reported that America’s CEOs now expect to spend less on capital investments now than before the tax bill was passed! So this idea give these companies big tax breaks, they’ll re-invest it, not happening. Not happening. Going to buybacks. Not dealing with the number one problem that America faces, the maldistribution of wealth and income as it agglomerates to the top while the middle class, and those who are trying to get to the middle class, who are left out.

I remember when President Trump promised that his tax bill would be a “middle-class miracle,” his words, and that the average American family would see a $4,000 raise. I remember when many of my Republican friends came to the floor to tout worker bonuses in the wake of their tax bill, even though many of them were merely your typical annual bonus. It turns out, to yesterday’s report that two percent, just two percent of the tax bill’s overall windfall went to worker bonuses, an average of a measly $28 per worker while their corporate parents and their larger shareholders got hundreds of thousands and millions.

Several of my Republican colleagues still laud their tax bill. They try to link it to positive economic news. But you’ll never hear them mention that most of the bill’s benefits flowed to multinational corporations and the top 1% of America, you won’t hear them mention that it has done very little to raise wages for average Americans. Alas, Republicans are giving themselves credit for building a theme park for everyone when all they’ve done is renovate the exclusive country club.

As many Democrats predicted, a year and a half after its passage, the Republican tax bill has overwhelmingly benefited shareholders and corporate executives, but not workers and their families.

And now on a very important topic that affects New York and America. The men and women who wear this nation’s uniform are some of the most inspiring people you’ll ever meet. There is no shortage of stories of their valor, of their courage under fire, of their sacrifices, made voluntarily, on behalf of a grateful nation.

But I have the responsibility and the honor this morning of sharing the story of a particularly exceptional service member from my state of New York, Senior Chief Petty Officer Shannon Kent.

Shannon Kent was from upstate New York. She was born in Oswego. She was raised in Pine Plains. She graduated from Stissing Mountain High School and left college to join the Navy, following in the footsteps of her father and her uncle, a police commander and a firefighter, who both were first responders on Sept. 11th. Duty ran in the veins of the Kent family.

Shannon was a pioneer in the special operations community. She was one of the first, if not the first, women to pass the course required to join Navy SEALS on missions. That’s amazing in itself. Shannon was an outstanding linguist and a seasoned cryptologist whose work "contributed directly to the capture of hundreds of enemy insurgents and severely degraded enemy combat capability," earning her a slew of accolades, including multiple commendation medals, the Purple Heart, and the Bronze Star. What an amazing woman – brave, strong, brilliant, large body of knowledge, amazing.

Her courageous efforts and groundbreaking achievements have inspired numerous programs for integrating women into Special Operations Forces, with combat jobs and special operations training now open to female service members. Senior Chief Kent was living proof that women could not only keep up with, but lead, our nation’s most highly-trained and capable service members.

Of course, Shannon was more than just a sailor—she was also a loving wife to her husband, Joe, a caring mother to her two children, a cancer survivor, a scholar, and an unstoppable athlete who stayed true to her New York roots, often going out for runs in her faded Yankees cap. 

On January 16th of this year, Senior Chief Petty Officer Shannon Kent was among four Americans and more than a dozen others killed in a suicide bombing in Northern Syria. Senior Chief Kent was on her fifth combat deployment, once again conducting some of the nation's most classified and dangerous missions. 

Senior Chief Petty Officer Shannon Kent deserves to be honored in a manner befitting of her noble service to our country and enduring contributions to the United States Navy. So today I am proudly introducing an amendment to the annual defense authorization bill urging the United States Navy to name a ship after New York native and American hero, Senior Chief Petty Officer Shannon Kent.

Of the 289 active duty ships in the Navy, only five, only five, are named in honor of women. Of the fifty-three named vessels currently under construction, only one, just one, is named in honor of a woman. And no naval ship has ever been named for a woman who fought and died in combat like Shannon Kent did.

It is time to address this disparity and recognize the integral role that female service members play in protecting our great nation.

Rear Admiral Grace Hopper, the namesake of the USS Hopper, once said: "A ship in port is safe; but that's not what ships are built for. Sail out to sea and do new things." That’s what Admiral Hopper said.

Well, Senior Chief Shannon Kent was built to set out to sea to do new things. So should we. I urge my colleagues to support my amendment to name the first naval vessel after a woman who has fought and died in combat: the brave, patriotic, wonderful Shannon Kent.