Schumer Floor Remarks On The Need To Postpone Kavanaugh Vote Until New Allegations Are Investigated, And New Legislation To Address Opioid Epidemic

September 18, 2018

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today spoke on the Senate floor [at approximately 4:01 p.m.]  regarding the need to postpone the vote on Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination until these new allegations are investigated and new legislation to address the opioid epidemic. Below are his remarks, which can also be viewed here:

Madam President, over the past few days, new allegations have come to light about President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Judge Brett Kavanaugh. These allegations ought to be treated with the utmost gravity. The allegations are extremely credible. They were made by someone who voluntarily submitted to a lie detector test, and had been discussed in the past, long before Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, with a family therapist. I believe her. Many, many, many Americans believe her. Many, many women in America who have been taken advantage of certainly believe her. For too long, women have made serious allegations of abuse and have been ignored or dragged through the mud. It would be a disgrace if this body and our fellow Republicans let that happen.

Chairman Grassley must postpone the vote on Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination until, at a very minimum, these serious and credible allegations are thoroughly investigated. The FBI conducted a background check on Judge Kavanaugh before these allegations were known. The FBI, when they did their background check, had no knowledge of what went on here. So it is now the FBI’s responsibility to investigate these claims, update the analysis to Judge Kavanaugh’s background, and report back to the Senate.


The FBI is the right place for this investigation for two reasons. First, the FBI has the resources, the information, and the legal tools to conduct an investigation the right way. Far better than some staffer talking to Professor Ford on the phone. You cannot lie to the FBI – that is a crime. The FBI will get to the truth. They almost always do. And second, our Republican colleagues have ran a transparently partisan confirmation process and then they immediately insinuated that Dr. Ford is being untruthful. Republicans and their staff cannot impartially investigate these allegations. They’ve already said that they are not true. Republicans and their staff cannot do this in a respected way because they have run such a partisan investigation thus far. There is no bipartisanship here. None. So to have any credibility, this has to be done by an independent, outside body. The FBI is the best one. The vote must be postponed until it is complete. It is an insult to the women of America to rush this through after these serious allegations have been made. It is an insult to the majesty of the Supreme Court to rush this through when these serious allegations have come forward.


Now in addition, Dr. Ford has said she is willing to testify before the Judiciary Committee. Does anyone believe it is better for staff to talk to her on the phone – Republican staff only – because no Democratic staff will participate in this biased, far-fetched process? Does anyone think it’s not better for her to come testify? Then why can’t she?


Chairman Grassley should provide the American people the forum to hear her out.  I believe she is credible. A lot of my Republican friends don’t. What are they afraid of? Are they afraid that she might be very persuasive? Well if she is, it’s a whole different ballgame, isn’t it? So Chairman Grassley should and must provide the American people the forum to hear her out and decide for themselves whether her testimony reflects on Judge Kavanaugh’s character and fitness for the Supreme Court. Of course he can have the chance to testify again too and both of them said they would. So why in the good Lord’s name, why wouldn’t we do that? Why? There’s no reason.


Chairman Grassley has to stop playing games, pretending like the nomination can continue to glide through while, at the same time, the Senate conducts a review of these allegations. Hastily arranged private phone calls with committee staff members is not even close to constituting a fair and thorough review, it is not a part of any sort of regular order, and it does not substitute for an FBI background check or a public hearing. Again, let me ask my dear friend the Leader, what is the reason, now that both Judge Kavanaugh and Professor Ford will come testify, that we won’t do it? Give me one good reason. One. It’s unrelated to how we became aware of these allegations, whether you like it or not. There’s the right for it to be heard.


With allegations as serious as the ones before us, the Senate must not, it cannot – the honor of the Senate – conduct a haphazard, slipshod review of Dr. Ford’s claims or be rushed to a vote. There must be time for the FBI to do its work and for the Judiciary Committee to properly prepare to hear testimony from Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh.


And there’s another issue here. Judge Kavanaugh’s credibility has already been seriously questioned in the aftermath of his testimony regarding emails stolen from the Judiciary Committee by a Republican member, by his involvement in the nomination of Judge William Pryor, and other controversies. In all of these cases, Judge Kavanaugh’s credibility was questioned because documents reveal that he was far more involved than he let on to when he testified. And now he has unequivocally denied this. So there’s an issue of credibility here. You have two people with diametrically opposed views as to what happened. And this is not just an argument for its own sake. It’s for a nomination to the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land that determines through its legal rulings the lives of Americans, and in many instances, is seen as the arbiter of right and wrong. Are we going to let this happen? Not even hear what someone who believes she was terribly aggrieved, and I believe her, has to say? When the credibility of a Supreme Court justice on the line, we’re going to just brush it under the rug? And again, after delaying Judge Merrick Garland for a year, with no explanation as to why we can’t wait a much shorter period of time. The double standard, the twisting of this body into a cruel, nasty partisanship – unprecedented – in a feverish desire to fill the bench with people that the other side agrees with. It’s one of the lowest points that I have seen in my years here. One of the lowest points.


I want to applaud my colleagues on the other side of the aisle who have called for hearings. I believe one way or another six have said this should be delayed. I hope they’ll be strong. I hope they’ll tell Leader McConnell he’s doing the wrong thing. Dr. Ford deserves to be heard. To railroad a vote now would be a deep insult to the women of America and the integrity of the Supreme Court.


Now, on another matter. Tonight, the Senate will take up legislation that will help our country fight back against the opioid epidemic. The bill will help people from all backgrounds and all ages, and is designed to address the spectrum of opioid addiction. That means medical prevention and law enforcement prevention, reversing overdoses, helping those in treatment and enabling those in recovery to get back to their lives.


Now, on another matter. Tonight, the Senate will take up legislation that will help our country fight back against the opioid epidemic. The bill will help people from all backgrounds and all ages, and is designed to address the full spectrum of opioid addiction. That means medical prevention and law enforcement prevention, reversing overdoses, helping those in treatment and enabling those in recovery to get back to healthy lives. On this one, we’ve had real bi-partisanship.


Democrats and Republicans came together to pass major funding increases to fight the opioid crisis. When we consider the Labor/HHS appropriations bill this week – I hope to see signed into law soon by the president – Congress will have appropriated roughly $7 billion over two years to address opioid addiction. That funding is now getting out to states.


The legislation we will consider this week is another side of the same coin. The funding increases are an important first step, and now this bill will complement those efforts by making important policy changes and creating new programs to help providers, first responders, law enforcement, communities, and families beat back the scourge of addiction.


Stopping this crisis will take a multifaceted effort, and this bill recognizes that fact. It will help stop illegal drugs at the border and allow the FDA to require opioids to be packaged in a way that deters addiction. It will encourage recovery services and expand access to treatment, support and health care professionals. It will help substance-exposed babies and mothers struggling with addiction, and help youth get the care they need. And it will invest in innovative, groundbreaking research and help develop non-addictive, safer painkillers.


I want to take a moment to thank several members on my side whose legislation is included in this bill, including Senators Baldwin, Donnelly, Manchin, McCaskill, Nelson, Casey, Heitkamp, and Klobuchar. Many more Democratic Senators contributed to the bill, as have many Republicans, and I thank everyone for their hard work.


Addiction, Madam President, has held too many Americans in its grip for too long. We cannot let up our efforts to fight this scourge. In the coming days and weeks, Congress will work diligently on merging the Senate’s bill with the bill the House already passed. It is my sincere hope that we will come to an agreement and have a new opioid bill signed into law in the very near future.


And, one final note – along with so many others, my heart goes out to the people of the Carolinas and surrounding states. To see the pictures of the houses being flooded breaks your heart, you see the devastation, and it is something that reminded me of what happened in my state a couple years ago with Sandy. Our hearts go out to these people, and the federal government always pulls together when part of the nation has a problem. I’m not going to look up the voting record of those on the other side from these states who are now going to ask for aid, when they voted no when my state was so beleaguer, that’s not how I believe the proper way to approach this, but there is suffering and we need to be there for them.