Schumer Floor Remarks On The Need To Pass A Serious, Bipartisan Proposal That Meets The Needs Of The American People Still Confronting The COVID Economic And Public Health Crises

August 6, 2020
Washington, D.C.—Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor and called on Republicans to take the serious steps needed to pass a serious, bipartisan proposal that meets the real and urgent needs of the American people who are still confronting the public health and economic crises brought forth by COVID-19. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:
Now, over the past week and a half, Speaker Pelosi and I have been engaged in serious negotiations with the White House over another round of emergency relief for the American people. Our motivation is simple. Americans are crying out for relief. Cases, hospitalizations, and deaths continue to climb. The snowball of economic impacts continues to roll downhill. This morning, we learned that another 1.2 million Americans filed for unemployment—far more than at any time during the Great Recession that began in 2008.
Our two parties don’t agree on a whole lot. That is no secret. The Trump administration has bungled this crisis since the very beginning, and even now is careening from one self-inflicted crisis to the next. Democrats believe that Congress has a moral obligation to step into the breach. To help Americans put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads. To save our economy from a deeper recession and longer recovery and fight this disease with all the resources and wherewithal a great nation can bring to bear.
So after the Senate Republican majority failed, in spectacular fashion, to put together a bill even its own members could support, Democrats have engaged in arduous negotiations with the White House, trying to impress upon them the gravity of the situation. We have made progress this week, but not enough. And the biggest reason is that President Trump and his aides and his party in Congress are not truly awake to what’s happening in this country.
The Trump administration and Senate Republicans have badly mauled the body politic, the American economy and American health care, and we Democrats believe the patient needs a major operation while Republicans want to apply a band-aid. And we won't let them just pass the band aid, go home, and still leave America bleeding. That’s the difference right now, on so many issues.
Our Republican counterparts refuse to acknowledge that Americans who have lost their job through no fault of their own might need some assistance with the rent. The Republican leader warns of an “epidemic of lawsuits” that hasn’t materialized. What will materialize, soon, is an epidemic of evictions unless we extend the moratorium and pass rental assistance. Between 19 and 23 million households, one in five rental households, will be at risk of eviction by the end of September. Unless we do something. Unless our Republican colleagues wake up.
Our Republican counterparts refuse to acknowledge that state, local, and tribal governments—who the Trump Administration abandoned in the early days of this crisis—might need federal support to prevent teachers, firefighters, bus drivers from being laid off, and public services from being slashed at the worst possible time. Leader McConnell just states that states should just go bankrupt. That’s not acceptable.
Our Republican counterparts refuse to acknowledge that running an election in the middle of a pandemic is going to be difficult; that state elections systems are going to need more resources and our Post Office must be well-staffed and prepared to manage an election that will see more voting by mail than any before.
Yesterday, the Republican Leader scoffed at the idea of extending enhanced unemployment benefits because it would mean that some Americans without work would be paid more than our essential workers. Conveniently, the Republican Leader did not mention that Democrats have proposed, for months, that we give our essential workers additional hazard pay—and that he and his party continue to block it.
If our friends on the other side are finally worried about how little many of our essential workers are making, as we are, I would hope they’d put their money where their mouth is and support our proposal to give them hazard pay.
When it comes to elections and education, food assistance for hungry children, and—mind-bogglingly—when it comes to health care, testing and tracing and Medicaid, our Republican friends continue to pinch pennies during a national emergency.
Again, this is the reason that our negotiations with the White House have been so difficult. The president and his aides and his party in Congress are not even awake to the crisis in our country. President Trump doesn’t have a plan, doesn’t engage in negotiations, and still manages to undercut them at nearly every turn. There is no leadership from the White House at a time of great crisis. Historians will look back and say this is one of the greatest crises America has felt and the White House is nowhere to be found. It's never happened before.
Way back in March, after we passed the CARES Act, the Senate Republican majority made a dangerous gamble. Leader McConnell said he was putting the Senate on “pause” to see what would happen. Senate Republicans swallowed the president’s ridiculous fantasy that the disease would just disappear.
Hoping they wouldn’t have to do anything, the Republican majority put the Senate on ice for four long months. Four months. Only yesterday, Leader McConnell admitted that his delay quote “allowed us to learn the coronavirus didn’t mysteriously disappear.”
So look, at this late stage, after months of Republican delay as the country got worse and worse, after Republicans in the Senate failed to generate a proposal that even their own caucus or president could support, Democrats are now the ones in the room trying to negotiate a bill that would meet the country’s needs.
And while some of my friends on the other side of the aisle are just looking for an outcome, any outcome, so they can vote on something and go home—we are not going to agree to an inadequate bill that doesn’t address the challenges in our country.
And we are not going to give up.
We are going to keep fighting until we achieve the caliber of legislation the American people during this time of great crisis need and deserve. We are going to keep working until we get it done.