Schumer Floor Remarks On The General Motors Layoffs, Nomination Of Thomas Farr To North Carolina’s Eastern District, Trump Admin’s Attempt to Bury Findings of Climate Change Report And President Trump’s Dangerous Rhetoric

November 27, 2018
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today spoke on the Senate floor (at approx. 11:15 AM) regarding the General Motors announcement that it was closing five factories and laying off nearly 15,000 workers, judicial nominee Thomas Farr’s concerning legal record, the administration’s attempt to bury the findings of its recent climate change report and the impact of President Trump’s dangerous rhetoric. Below are his remarks, which can also be viewed here:

Thank you Mr. President. First, I’d like to talk about the unfortunate news we heard from General Motors. Yesterday, General Motors announced that it was closing five factories and laying off 15,000 workers. The news is a gut punch, a gut punch to workers in Ohio, Michigan, and Maryland. Our hearts go out to them and their families. Many of these people have labored for decades. Many of their families have worked at GM. I know this from our GM plants in New York. And to lose your job when you put so much into it, when you wake up in the morning and say, “My job is to make the best car possible,” it’s a gut punch. Worse. 


We need to do more – a lot more – to encourage investment in American jobs, in American infrastructure, to bring back manufacturing. What we don’t need is more rhetoric from the president, who has made a lot of promises but unfortunately failed to deliver for these workers.


Here’s what President Trump said last year about manufacturing jobs in Ohio: “They’re all coming back. Don’t move. Don’t sell your house. We’re going to fill those factories up or rip them down and build new ones.”


Here’s what else he said: “If I’m elected, you won’t lose one plant, you’re going to have jobs again, you won’t lose one plant, I promise you that.” President Trump promised people in his campaign that we would not lose one plant. A lot of people voted for him for that reason. Guess where he said, “you won’t lose one plant.” Guess where President Trump promised the people we won’t lose one auto plant – Warren, Michigan. And that is where one of the plants is slated to close.


Those words are a painful reminder of just how bankrupt many of President Trump’s promises turn out to be.


Remember Carrier? The president swept into office promising that Carrier would stay open thanks to him. He did a big rally. Six months later, Carrier laid off hundreds of workers in Indiana and moved their positions to Mexico.


This is what President Trump does: big, bold, impossible promises without much care for the results.


Instead of overpromising, the president should have rolled up his sleeves, worked with GM to prevent them from cutting these jobs. The American taxpayer has supported GM though tough times. Last year, the Republicans handed GM a windfall of $150 million in their tax bill. GM could bring back money from overseas. They said they would do it and employ people. Well, they’re bringing back money from overseas, but they’re not employing people. That’s what American companies are doing. GM pocketed the tax break we gave them and are closing up shop anyway, with nary a word from the President until after the fact.


I see my friend from Illinois here. We Democrats believe that you don’t give tax breaks to big companies unless they do something for their workers – not stock buybacks, but employ people, train people, pay them a good wage, give them family leave. President Trump gives corporate America – wealthy, big corporations – just what they wish for but does nothing to protect workers except talk a lot. So I would say to my friends in New York State, throughout the Midwest, and throughout America, to working families – the kind of families I came from – when are you going to understand that this man sells you a bill of goods? That this president talks a good game but never delivers on his promises. That’s what Americans, and working Americans in particular, should understand about President Trump. The awful closings yesterday are terrible. They’re a sad symbol of a president who was failed the American working people and has given them a lot of hot air and no real gains. Corporate America, the wealthy, they’re doing great. The working people, average Americans, people who sweat – nothing. Losing jobs.


We need more from this Congress than another tax cut for the wealthy, and the American worker needs more from President Trump than empty rhetoric. Just yesterday he says: “well, they’ll be new plants.” How many people are going to believe that, he’s been saying that for two years? 


Last week, the Trump administration released an important report on climate change, warning of dire consequences by 2050 – devastating storms, hundreds of billions of dollars of damage, a massive drain on the economy. The fact that this administration released the report on Black Friday is wrong. It’s an obvious attempt to bury the findings, but guess what Mr. President and the administration? Those findings, even though you released them on the Friday after Thanksgiving, are not buried. They are on the front page of every newspaper. Then of course, while his own administration issued a very strong report on climate change, his own administration’s report, he says: “I don’t believe it.”


I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: President Trump and the Republican Party are like ostriches when it comes to climate change, burying their heads in the sand as the world changes and as more and more of America and American workers are put in danger. Now the Trump Administration itself has reported on how devastating the costs their policies will be for future generations of Americans. And this report, is going to live day after day, month after month, year after year. This is not a one-day story. This is conclusive evidence by the president’s own administration of how bad climate change will be, for incomes, for families, for workers, for farmers, for cities. They can’t run away from it anymore. It’s about time they face the reality and work with us to do something before it’s too late. But this report will be in the news, again, and again, and again. It will bolster those who are going to court, to prevent the administration from undoing many of the things the previous administration did on climate change. It is a turning point, a very significant turning point in the war, which is to keep our globe from getting far too hot for everyone’s comfort.


On the pending judicial nomination of Mr. Thomas Farr for a seat in the Eastern District of North Carolina.


In his legal career, Mr. Farr has repeatedly defended efforts by North Carolina’s Republicans to undermine voting rights generally and disenfranchise African-American voters specifically. This man was chief cook and bottle washer at the state that probably did more to prevent people, in particular minorities from voting than any other state, so bad that the discriminatory congressional maps drawn by the Republican state legislature, which Mr. Farr defended were struck down by the very conservative Supreme Court.


Mr. Farr defended North Carolina’s absurdly restrictive voter ID law, also passed by the conservative Republican state legislature, and they tailored their election laws to disadvantage African-American voters after requesting race-specific data on voting practices. The law was one of five changes to registration and voting, all of which; all of which disproportionately affected African Americans. That wasn’t a coincidence, that was design. Mr. Farr called the provisions, which a federal judge determined “targeted African-Americans with surgical precision,” a “minor inconvenience.” And finally, Mr. Farr was a lawyer for the re-election campaign of Jesse Helms, Senator Helms and may well have had pre-knowledge of a mailer sent overwhelmingly to black voters with the purpose of intimidating them from voting.


Partisan affiliation, my friends should not matter in this debate. Voting rights are sacred, part of our soil, in which the tree of democracy is nurtured. This should not be a Democrat issue or Republican issue, taking away the voting rights of Americans, whatever race, creed, color, of whatever party, of whatever region is a despicable act. It cuts against the very thing that generations of soldiers have died for. The rights of democracy, the right to vote. Every Senator here, including our Republican friends should be disturbed that Mr. Farr has been involved – often directly – in multiple attempts to disenfranchise minority voters.


What sticks in the craw is that we’re voting on Mr. Farr only because Republican Senators, when we Democrats, when we were in the majority still respected the blue slip and they blocked two nominees, both African-American, both women, to represent jurisdiction that’s 27 percent African American and doesn’t have a single African-American judge. Even though a quarter of the people are African American. I don’t care what the ideology is here, to add insult to injury, putting someone on the bench that would disenfranchise people, particularly people of color – it’s a disgrace.


This morning Stacey Abrams and Andrew Gillum, both of whom were hurt by attempts to limit voting rights, issued the following statement together: “When it comes to the trifecta of voter disenfranchisement – voter suppression, racial gerrymandering, and restriction of voting rights – Thomas Farr is sadly, one of the most experienced lawyers in the country. Thomas Farr’s record of hostility and disregard for fundamental civil rights disqualifies him for a lifetime appointment that will allow him to codify his discriminatory ideology into law.”


I could not agree more. I urge my Republican colleagues to see the better part of reason. To let, as Abraham Lincoln said, and we all know what he did, let the better angels of their nature appeal to them, not just the political machine that says ‘This guy helped us elected, even if he took away voting rights of people. Let’s put him in.”


And one more point. The great Chief Justice John Roberts, who told us he would call balls and strikes, allowed a lot of this to happen when authored the Shelby County decision, which took away protections against horrible things that Mr. Farr helped perpetrate. He said there wasn’t much discrimination anymore. Well clearly there is; 19 states have rolled back voting rights since Shelby County. Mr. Roberts tries to portray himself as middle of the road, call the balls or strikes person. In his decisions he’s very far from that, and that’s why people see the courts as so political. 


One final point. I want to comment on a report by the Washington Post yesterday on extremist violence. The report found that “over the past decade, attackers motivated by right-wing political ideologies have committed dozens of shootings, bombings and other acts of violence, far more than any other category of domestic extremist.”


We all abhor this violence, whatever its origin. I’ve spoken out against it. But the conclusions of this report should put an end to Republican fearmongering, President Trump’s fearmongering, about so-called “democratic mobs.”


The hard questions need not be put first to Democrats. Hard questions need to be asked of President Trump. There is a question that looms: is President Trump’s rhetoric encouraging right-wing violence that we’ve seen in the past few years? The number one cause of domestic violence. That question needs to be answered.