Schumer Floor Remarks On The Need For Bipartisan, Bicameral Emergency Coronavirus Relief Negotiations

December 3, 2020

Washington, D.C. — Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the need to work in a bipartisan and bicameral manner to negotiate emergency coronavirus relief for millions of Americans in need, using the bipartisan framework introduced earlier this week as the basis for negotiations. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

We all know how desperate things are. Yesterday, we were leveled by some of the grimmest statistics of the pandemic. More than 100,000 Americans were hospitalized. More than 2,700 Americans died, the highest recorded number in a single day since the pandemic begin. More than 274,000 Americans have died, in total.

That’s the equivalent of a 9/11 attack, every day, for 92 days in a row.

Unlike the Spring, when the rates of infections and fatalities peaked before steadily declining, the winter months, and the hangover from Thanksgiving travel, will likely cause these rates to get worse before they get better.

The steady yet staggering loss of American life is horrific. And because so many of us are isolated, because so many have contracted the disease and have experienced relatively mild symptoms and recovered quickly – thank God – there is a sense that things are not as bad as they seem.

But the raw accounting is unavoidable and it is harrowing. The loss of our friends, our parents, our neighbors, our siblings, our colleagues must be acknowledged and mourned and must inspire us to redouble our efforts to defeat this evil disease.

As COVID-19 races through much of the country, the economic fallout of the pandemic also broadens. Many family budgets and small businesses are at their breaking point. Economists are now warning that the US economy could fall into double-dip recession without additional relief from Congress.

Let me say that again: we could have a double-dip recession unless there’s relief, good strong relief from Congress.

And that is why Democrats have been so desperately trying to convince our Republican colleagues, and the Republican Leader in particular, to work with us in a bipartisan fashion, on another round of emergency federal relief.

Speaker Pelosi and I made a new offer to Leader McConnell and Leader McCarthy on Monday, in hopes of jumpstarting serious negotiations. And Leader McConnell responded by circulating another version of a partisan, Republican-only draft.

So, in the spirit of compromise, Speaker Pelosi and I believe the bipartisan framework introduced by a group of eight Senators on Tuesday should be used as the basis—the framework—for immediate bipartisan, bicameral negotiations.

Of course, we and others will offer improvements, but the need to act is urgent and we believe that with good-faith negotiations we could very well come to an agreement. We are already much closer to an agreement because of the bipartisan talks these eight Senators have done, have created, and we can build off their momentum.

What’s the alternative? Another round of legislative failure? Failure to help the American people?

And the Republican leader came to the floor this morning to say “compromise is within reach”—his words—before reiterating a long list of Republican demands and blaming the Democrats for everything.

Once again, the Republican Leader argued that the Senate should pass only what Republicans approve of, and leave the rest for later. And he now says that an emergency relief bill should be limited by only what President Trump will sign.

Of course, we could say, similarly, the bill should be limited only by what a Democratic House will pass.

Neither is true compromise, and the Leader knows that. But for some reason, in the midst of this generational crisis, Republican Leader McConnell does not seem inclined to compromise, to actually get something done. But, what he wants to do is posture, to put partisan bills on the floor and say: take it or leave it.

The real answer here is to sit down and talk. Let’s use the bipartisan framework, developed by eight Senators from both sides, as our starting point. We have precious little time left before the end of the year, and the country has some desperate needs.

Unemployment remains too high. Laid-off workers need our assistance until the economy fully recovers.

Small businesses need another round of support.

With the imminent availability of a vaccine, it is crucial that there will be additional funding for manufacturing and distribution.

The distribution efforts will be led by the states, which further increases the need to deliver assistance to state and local governments.

As we all take great hope and solace in the idea that a vaccine is just around the corner, we must make necessary preparations to ensure that we have enough doses, that it’s distributed effectively, efficiently, and fairly, and that Americans can access it affordably.

We can make a significant down payment, right now, towards preparing the country for a vaccine with an emergency relief bill before the Christmas holiday.

 

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