Schumer Floor Remarks On The Need For A Bipartisan Appropriations Process, Decrying President Trump’s Lack Of A Plan for Syria, And Announcing Senate Dems Will Force A Vote To Repeal The IRS’ Harmful SALT Tax Rule

October 22, 2019
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today spoke on the Senate floor regarding Leader McConnell’s legislative graveyard and the need for a bipartisan appropriations process, called for the Senate to take up and pass the bipartisan House-passed resolution condemning the president’s decision to abandon the U.S.’s Kurdish allies in Syria, and that Senate Democrats will force a vote to repeal the IRS’ harmful SALT tax deduction rule. Below are his remarks, which can also be viewed here:

The Republican Leader, in recent days, has charged that because the House of Representatives is now engaged in its constitutional duty to examine presidential wrongdoing, that somehow Democrats are not interested in legislating.
It’s a curious criticism coming from Leader McConnell. Democrats not interested in legislating? From the man who proudly calls himself the “Grim Reaper”. Since the midterms, the Democratic House majority has passed hundreds of bills with bipartisan support while Leader McConnell has deliberately focused the Senate on anything but legislation. He has turned this chamber into a legislative graveyard. Democrats want to vote on things. Gun safety, how about it? Healthcare, how about it? Infrastructure, how about it? Democracy, improving our democracy. On none of these things will Leader McConnell even dare put a bill on the floor, let alone the House bills, which would have a chance of getting something done.
This very week, we have an example of how Democrats plan to work with our Republican colleagues to advance legislation. The Republican Leader has indicated, finally, at last, that he may bring several appropriations bills to the floor this week. Democrats want to move forward and debate those bills in an open and vigorous fashion.
Now, there are several appropriations bills that don’t have any bipartisan support. The Republican Leader knows why. We need to have bipartisan support on the 302(b)s, the allocations to the various agencies, to move forward on bills like Homeland Security and Health and Human Services, military construction, and defense. That negotiation, to succeed, must be bipartisan, that’s what the history of this chamber shows, that’s what common sense and logic shows. House leaders have suggested a conference—Democrats and Republicans, House and Senate—on these 302(b)s, that’s a good idea.
If Republicans are willing to engage with us on 302(b)s, we get negotiations back on track to fund the government. In the meantime, Democrats want to move forward on the noncontroversial appropriations bills, the bills that have had bipartisan agreement, and we hope that Leader McConnell will allow a fair and robust amendment process. It would be nice to consider something on the floor besides an endless parade of right-wing judges, who side with special powerful interest time and time again, not working Americans and executive appointments.
Now on Syria, today, the five-day “pause” on hostilities in Northern Syria is set to come to an end. What happens next is completely unknown. Will Erdogan continue his military incursion into Syria? Will the Kurds – facing another Turkish offensive – leave their posts guarding ISIS prisoners to once again defend themselves, allowing ISIS prisoners, dangerous to America, to escape? Will Presidents Erdogan and Putin cut a new deal that’s bad for America and our allies? Nobody knows the answers to any of these.
What we do know is that the situation has rapidly deteriorated compared to just a few weeks ago, and what caused this deterioration? One thing. The president’s abrupt decision to withdraw U.S. troops from the region after a phone call with President Erdogan. When ISIS had been degraded and more than 10,000 detainees – many of them hardened ISIS fighters -- were under lock and key, to undo that? That’s putting America’s security at risk. That’s what President Trump has done. This so-called tough warrior backed off, in a call with a much lesser power, Erdogan. He’s done this before.
We don’t know how many of those 10,000 detainees and their families have escaped. We don’t know where they’ve gone, nor is there any plan to get them back into detention facilities. These are dangerous people. Dangerous to our homeland. Dangerous to New York, and Chicago, and Miami, and Dallas, and Denver, and Los Angeles. And we don’t know where they are or what they’re doing. All because of the president’s precipitous action. I get excited about this, angrily excited, negatively excited, because my city has suffered. Terrorists seven thousand miles away, small group, who did such damage.
As the New York Times reported, after ISIS had been on the run, “Now, analysts say that Mr. Trump’s pullout [of U.S. troops from Northern Syria] has handed the Islamic State its biggest win in… four years...” President Trump has handed ISIS its biggest victory in four years. How can any American support that? How can so many of our Republican colleagues and republican supporters of President Trump shrug their shoulders.  Let me repeat, “[President] Trump’s pullout has handed the Islamic State its biggest win in more than four years and greatly improved its prospects.”
The president’s incompetence with Erdogan and Syria has handed ISIS a get-out-of-jail-free card and simply put American lives in danger. For the sake of our national security, President Trump and his administration need to get a handle on this situation.
Senators, I believe from both parties, have been trying to get the administration’s top officials, including Secretary of State Pompeo, Secretary of Defense Esper, and General Milley to give the Senate a briefing on its Syria policy and a plan to contain and further degrade ISIS. They canceled a scheduled briefing last week, pulled the plug on a briefing that was supposed to be this afternoon, and have so far refused to commit to a new date. We need that briefing to happen. Secretary Pompeo, Secretary Esper, General Milley, CIA Director Haspel, have a responsibility to report to Congress on what’s happening in this dangerous situation. And, once again, this administration is withholding vital information. It’s a disgrace. It’s probably because they don’t have a plan, so they don’t know what to do. But bringing them here may help formulate that plan or push them to get a plan.
But in the meantime, Democrats are set to meet with Brett McGurk, the former presidential envoy in charge of countering ISIS, at a special caucus meeting Wednesday. So we can try to come up with some answers even though it should be the administration doing that.
The American people should be very concerned that the Trump administration does not seem to have any plan to secure the enduring defeat of ISIS in Syria. Senate Democrats will try to learn as much as possible from the experts available to us, folks like Mr. McGurk, but ultimately the president alone has the authority to correct our nation’s course. So it is still very important for the Senate to pass the House resolution condemning the president’s decision to precipitously withdraw from northern Syria.
So it is still very important for the Senate to pass the House resolution condemning the president’s decision to precipitously withdraw from Northern Syria. The president tends to listen when the Republicans here in Congress express their disapproval. That’s what happened in the House, where over 120 Republicans voted with Democrats on a bipartisan resolution including Leaders McCarthy, Scalise, and Cheney, hard was Republicans, but at least they know how bad this was for America. Where are our Senate colleagues showing the same bit of courage that McCarthy, Scalise, and Cheney showed? If the House resolution is tough enough for House Republican leadership, surely it’s good enough for the majority of Senate Republicans. So we will keep trying to pass the House resolution here in the Senate because it means we could send a bill to the president’s desk that shows him a bipartisan majority of Congress is against his reckless decision in Syria. This is extremely, extremely troubling and I’m very angry. Very angry.
Later this week, Senate Democrats are going to use their authority under the Congressional Review Act to force a vote to repeal the IRS’s harmful rule that effectively eliminates state charitable tax credits all across the country. I know Republican colleagues want to frame this CRA vote as a vote on the State and Local Tax Credit cap they put in place in tax reform. And I do disagree— I vehemently disagree—with that policy and will look to change it as soon as possible. It’s hurt so many people in New York who are middle class, not wealthy, and in suburbs throughout the country. And by the way, it’s probably one of the major reasons the House flipped from Republican to Democrat. So many of those districts in New Jersey and California and New York and Pennsylvania were affected by this SALT cap and people rebel, threw out their Republican congressmen and put new people in. But, it affects other things as well. The regulation we will be voting on impacts state charitable credits in virtually every state—ranging in areas from education to conservation to childcare, and more.
Do not take my word for it. In Kentucky, the Community Foundation of Louisville, a major philanthropic organization, has warned that IRS’s rule “will effectively extinguish the Endow Kentucky Program,” which has generated more than $31 million in charitable donations. Look at South Carolina, where my friend Senator Graham has made clear this rule will have devastating consequences for the South Carolina Research Authority, which helps startup companies in his state to create new jobs. Let’s go to Colorado, where the Boys and Girls Club of Chafee County warned that “these proposed federal regulations will severely limit the effectiveness of our Colorado Child Care Contribution Tax Credit,” which they say will limit “our ability to address an issue fundamental to the economic health of the community.”
The list goes on and on. I’d ask my Republican colleagues before we vote on the CRA tomorrow to look how it affects their state, not just in terms of state and local taxes, but charitable contributions, education, home school, and many other areas.
This vote is about getting rid of an IRS rule that hinders state programs like the ones I’ve mentioned. My Republican colleagues have always proclaimed that they are defenders of states’ rights and the 10th Amendment. Here is an opportunity for them to walk the walk, stop the IRS from making life harder on both taxpayers and local economies. I urge them to vote with us to repeal this rule and I yield the floor.