Schumer Floor Remarks On The Need To Prevent More Trump Shutdowns, And Insisting That President Trump Does Not Back Down On Huawei ChargesJanuary 29, 2019
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the widespread suffering caused by the Trump shutdown, the need for President Trump to stay out of Congressional negotiations to prevent another shutdown, the Justice Department’s recent charges against the Chinese telecom giant Huawei, and the Koch network’s attempts to rebrand itself as less partisan. Below are his remarks, which can also be viewed here:
Now hundreds of thousands of federal workers are, thank God, returning to work this week to tackle a backlog that’s been building up for over a month.
Over that time, the U.S. economy suffered a loss of $11 billion, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. $11 billion for the president’s temper tantrum, including $3 billion that can never be recovered. It’s an expensive temper tantrum.
The individual costs are even harder than the big number. Who knows how many federal workers missed a doctor’s appointment or fell behind on their payments because they were missing multiple paychecks. Federal contractors may not get back pay and may have lost health insurance entirely during the shutdown. Senator Smith is working on legislation to fix that problem.
So even while federal employees and contractors are returning to work, they might still be digging out of the hole the Trump shutdown put them in.
Now, I hope this serves as a lesson to President Trump and all of my Republican colleagues: no more shutdowns. We cannot repeat this same nightmare scenario in three weeks when the CR expires. We Democrats will not shut down the government. We hope that President Trump has learned his lesson, he touched a very hot stove. We hope our Republican colleagues will join us as they did last Thursday to make sure there is no shutdown.
Thankfully, I’ve heard several of my Republican colleagues say that. A number of them, including some of the most senior Republicans here, have said we shouldn’t have another shutdown. So we look forward to working with you to avoid that in every possible way.
The House and Senate conferees should strive to find common ground where it already exists and build from there. The good news is they begin with plenty to work with. Democrats and Republicans agree on the need for stronger border security measures at our ports of entry as well as the need for more humanitarian assistance. That’s a good place to start.
Plenty of column inches have been dedicated to the discussion of areas where Democrats and Republicans have friction, but several times over the past two years Congress has come together to reach big compromises, including two budget agreements and a landmark Russia sanctions bill. The common theme of those agreements was that the president stayed out of our negotiations. Because President Trump gave Congress space to find a deal on our own, we were able to strike an accord. That’s what we’ll need again if the conference committee is to succeed because the president has no understanding of what the realities are in this Senate and in the House and no consistency in what he says one day and what he says the next. As I said, negotiating with President Trump is like negotiating with Jell-O. So, let Democrats and Republicans, House and Senate, come together on an agreement and my bet – my guess – we can avoid a shutdown.
Now, on another matter. Yesterday afternoon, the Department of Justice unveiled nearly two dozen charges against the Chinese telecom giant Huawei in two indictments: one for the evasion of US sanctions on Iran and another for its attempts to steal sensitive intellectual property from T-Mobile in the United States.
I’m glad the Justice Department announced these indictments yesterday. China has been flouting international sanction laws, and even worse, stealing American IP and know-how for the last decade. State-connected telecom giants like Huawei are an example of how China operates. They’re not an exception, they’re the rule in China. When China wants to supplant U.S. dominance in an emerging industry, it acts rapaciously – it steals. Our law enforcement needs to be especially vigilant with China’s telecom companies, like Huawei, like ZTE, who intend to displace U.S. communications networks with their own 5G networks because those could give China access to all kinds of sensitive information. U.S. authorities should be prosecuting Huawei’s criminal violations to the fullest extent of the law. And I give the administration credit for having the suit go forward.
My message to President Trump is: don’t back down. While the Trump administration has shown signs of being tougher on China than either the Bush or Obama Administration, for which I commend them, President Trump has also tried the conciliatory approach, particularly when the administration is engaged in negotiations with the Chinese.
Just last year, President Trump let ZTE – another state-backed Chinese telecom that violated trade sanctions – off the hook in the hopes of achieving concessions from China on North Korea that never materialized.
And in December, the president has said that he would “certainly intervene” in the Huawei case if he “thought it was necessary” to achieve a trade deal with China.
President Trump: do not make the same mistake you made with ZTE by interfering with the Justice Department’s prosecution of Huawei. The United States should not make any concessions unless and until China makes credible and enforceable commitments to end all forms of theft and extortion of American intellectual property, which is exactly what Huawei is accused of.
Finally, a comment on the Koch brothers. I read a column with interest today in the Washington Post, the Koch network has been trying to rebrand itself as less partisan. They’re saying: “let’s bring us together, let’s work with both sides.” That’s a good instinct.
Color me skeptical. The Koch brothers may sit out the presidential contest, as they did in 2016, but their political arm, Americans for Prosperity, continues to support candidates who are divisive, who do not bring us together. Some of the ads you see, the very candidates they support, are dividing us. You can’t on the one hand say you want to bring us together and on the other use your political arm to tear us apart. Yet that is what the Koch brothers are doing. And they support the kinds of judges who agree with them on all the corporate stuff, they don’t want regulation, who are against voting rights. How does that bring us together? Are against immigrants. How does that bring us together?
At the state level, their network of affiliates continues to support so many different initiatives that divide us. Through support for shadowy think tanks and pseudo-academic institutions, the Koch brothers continue to fund studies that sow doubt about climate change and evangelize deregulation. And so, it seems that still the highest priority is to help the rich and powerful no matter how divisive it is. As long as we can get our corporate taxes cut even further, cut the taxes for the wealthy, stop the protections by preventing government regulations for average folks – as long as they do that – all this talk about coming together and supporting an occasional bill here and there doesn’t mean much. I hope that this beginning of what the Koch brothers say spreads. I hope it’s not sort of just a fig leaf because they’re getting such bad publicity and America is moving so far away from what they believe.