Schumer Floor Remarks On The Need To Pass Emergency COVID Relief To American Families And How Senator McConnell’s Partisan Proposals are Delaying Necessary Action

December 8, 2020

Washington, D.C. — Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the Republican leader’s “red line” on a sweeping corporate immunity proposal derailing emergency coronavirus relief for the American people. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

Everywhere you look, there are signs the country needs emergency federal relief before the end of the year. Cases, hospitalizations, deaths are rising. COVID restrictions are snapping back into place in cities and states around the country. Economists are warning of a double-dip recession if Congress fails to pass another round of fiscal stimulus.

The situation is really quite simple. There are glaring needs in the country and we need to work across party lines to pass legislation to meet those needs.

Let me say it again: we need both parties to sit down and compromise on legislation to help the American people. That’s the only way to get legislation passed.

But observers of this process seem to have lost track of this simple truth. The Republican Leader seems to have forgotten about it entirely. Amazingly, it has been over 8 months since Congress came together to pass the CARES Act, and the Leader’s position has not budged.

The Majority Leader continues to insist that the Senate accept one of his partisan, Republican proposals—each one of which has been sorely inadequate, and each one of which has contained poison pills designed to ensure the bills’ failure.

The most conspicuous of these poison pills is the so-called “red line” the Majority Leader has tried to draw on the issue of corporate immunity.

Contrary to the Majority Leader’s dire predictions, there has been no flood of COVID lawsuits. In fact, quite the opposite. Almost a year into this pandemic, with nearly 15 million Americans infected, 280,000 lives lost to COVID-19, there have been only 111 COVID-related lawsuits filed regarding conditions of employment; 23 suits for personal injury from exposure to the Coronavirus in a public place, and 11 COVID-related medical malpractice suits. 

Far from a pandemic of lawsuits, there has been barely a trickle. And yet, the Republican Leader continues to prevent Americans from getting the aid they so desperately need and deserve, until he gets this piece of partisan, ideological legislation.

Again yesterday, while the Leader was busy accusing Democrats of blocking “bipartisan” legislation that “everyone agrees on” – his words – other members of the Republican leadership were busy making it clear that Leader McConnell continues to insist on this particular poison pill. The Republican whip said that any relief must have corporate immunity that “satisfy Sen. McConnell.”

Imagine holding emergency aid hostage—help for the unemployed, help for small businesses, help to pay salaries of police and firefighters, help for individual Americans, funding to deliver a vaccine—in order to give corporations legal immunity. But that has been the Republican position for the past 8 months. And it is the Leader’s position today.

For the sake of bipartisan negotiations, Republican leadership should forsake these hardline positions.

You can’t claim to want “bipartisanship”, while actively demanding the Senate accept partisan legislation. Bipartisan does not mean Democrats must agree to whatever the Republican Leader wants, on whatever issue he picks. Bipartisan means both side—both sides—sitting down, finding agreement to meet the needs of the country, and make a law.

That process is happening with the Gang of 8, and it should continue until we get a solution.