Schumer Floor Remarks On The Need To Reach A Bipartisan Agreement On Emergency COVID Relief For American Families Using The Bipartisan, Bicameral Framework As The Basis For Negotiations

December 9, 2020

Washington, D.C. — Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the need to reach a bipartisan agreement on emergency COVID relief for American families, reiterating that the bipartisan framework presented last week should be the basis for negotiations. Senator Schumer also laid out why the White House proposal released yesterday misses the mark on support for unemployed workers. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

The most important item on the Senate’s to-do list before the end of the year is a bipartisan emergency relief package for a nation suffering the worst month of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Negotiations continue between a bipartisan group of Senate and House members, who, last week, agreed in principle on a $900-plus billion emergency relief proposal. As the details continue to get sorted, Speaker Pelosi and I have encouraged everyone to use this bipartisan proposal as a framework for negotiations.

Yesterday, the White House presented us an offer of similar size, around $900 billion, an encouraging sign that Republican leadership is moving in the right direction by endorsing the size of the Gang of 8’s bill. But the president’s proposal must not be allowed to supersede or obstruct the bipartisan congressional talks that are underway. That is where the real action is, and where bipartisan agreement on the basic concepts will ultimately be forged.

The president’s proposal, for instance, completely misses the mark on unemployment benefits and aid to American families. In order to include $600 stimulus checks, it actually cuts proposed unemployment benefits by greater than a factor of 4, from $180 billion to just $40 billion, an unacceptably low amount while tens of millions of Americans remain out of work, almost all of whom have lost their jobs because of COVID.

Economists from every end of the spectrum, including the conservative U.S. Chamber of Commerce, are warning us that the United States faces the prospect of a double-dip recession without another round of emergency fiscal stimulus. A robust unemployment benefit is crucial, crucial to that program. Earlier in the pandemic, it helped keep 12 million Americans out of poverty and propped up consumer spending. We shouldn’t be cutting unemployment benefits now, as the president’s team proposes, we should be extending them.

Now, the Republican leader, as usual, gave a very angry speech this morning, accusing Democrats of all manner of things, including intentionally blocking aid to thwart President Trump. I don’t know what evidence he has of that, but there are actual reports, honest-to-god reports, in the New York Times and the Washington Post that Leader McConnell was warning the White House not to cut a deal on COVID-relief before the election.

Here’s the Washington Post: “McConnell warns White House against making stimulus deal as Pelosi and Mnuchin inch closer.” That’s from October 20th, two weeks before the election.

Meanwhile, Democrats have continually lowered our proposals, now by over $2 trillion, to move closer to our Republican colleagues, in the spirit of compromise and for the sake of getting something done for the American people.

It would do a whole lot of good if the Republican leader would drop the daily tirades, and diatribes, which seem to be based in some alternate reality, and join the rest of the Senate in urging the bipartisan negotiations now underway to continue.

Families all over the country are nearing a point of desperation, unable to put food on the table, a roof over their children’s heads. By January, nearly 12 million renters will owe an average of nearly $6,000 in back rent and utilities, a shocking figure. We need to deliver an emergency relief package to keep American families, workers, and businesses afloat until the crisis finally begins to subside.

The only way to get that done is in a bipartisan fashion. The sooner the Republican leader realizes it, the better.