Schumer Floor Remarks on the Need to Reach a Long-term Spending Agreement

January 18, 2018

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today spoke on the Senate Floor regarding the need to reach a long-term spending agreement. Below are his remarks which can also be viewed here:

The House of Representatives has sent the Senate a continuing resolution constructed by the Republican Speaker and passed without the consultation of House Democrats or Senate Democrats whatsoever.

The Republican Leader is now saying to us: take it or leave it.

Here’s why members from both sides of the aisle want to leave it.

We have been skating by on continuing resolution after continuing resolution for almost six months. First, we passed a 3-month CR, then a 2-week CR, then a one-month CR. Now we are offered another month-long delay of the inevitable. We can’t keep kicking the can down the road and shuffling our feet after it. In another month, we’ll be right back here, at this moment, with the same web of problems at our feet, in no better position to solve them.                                                      

The government of the most powerful nation in the world should simply not be run this way. These successive short-term funding bills hurt our military, as I have mentioned. Just ask Secretary Mattis if this is what he’d prefer we do: another continuing resolution or an honest-to-goodness budget deal that allows our Defense Department to plan ahead and meet their obligations? We all know he’d prefer the latter.

This is why some of my Republican colleagues have already said they’d join with Democrats to reject this bill. They know, like I know, that this is no way to do our business. This is not a partisan issue. We should be united in trying to come to a solution, not just kick the can down the road.

And the truth is, we don’t have to do it this way. The Majority Leader, in his speech earlier, my friend, tried to reduce things to a binary choice—‘Take my bill or else shut down the government.’ That’s not the case. It’s simply not. Those aren’t the only options available to him, or to any of us.

Democrats and Republicans have been negotiating for months about several issues. A bipartisan deal is within reach: on lifting the caps for both defense and domestic spending, on health care issues, on disaster relief, and on immigration issues. A bipartisan deal is within reach—I’ve been part of those negotiations—on all of those issues.

And now is the time to reach it. Not a month from now.

One reason we haven’t gotten one already is that the President has been impervious to compromise for the past several months. And another is that he can’t maintain a consistent position. We all know that. He accepts bipartisan overture on one day, only to reject them on the next. He makes, and then rescinds, and then remakes demands. He encourages compromise one day only to thwart it the next by saying he’ll only accept a deal that gives him 100% of what he wants. That’s not what a great dealmaker does.

And folks here in Congress in his own party, the people in Congress in his own party don’t even know what he wants. I feel for them. I feel for our Leader. He’s in an awful difficult position. I know that. We all know that. Just yesterday, Leader McConnell said he’s still trying to figure out what the President is for. Only a few moments ago, the Leader said the President’s “views have not been made fully apparent yet.”

Letting this ambivalence and chaos continue for another month is just not the answer. It’s not a good way to get a deal, and it’s not the right way to run our country, our dear, beloved country.

Tonight or tomorrow, the President will see, I had hoped it would be tonight, can’t waste any time, but the President will see that this approach was rejected on a bipartisan basis. Hopefully, he will see the light and come to the table and negotiate, seriously negotiate, for the first time in this lengthy process.

Ultimately, the answer here might be to pursue an idea floated by a few of my Republican colleagues – to pass a clean extension of government funding for four or five days to give us a hard, final deadline to finalize a deal.

Passing a short-term continuing resolution ensures that both sides remain at the table, and can quickly reach a deal that fully funds our military, our domestic priorities like the fight against opioids, protects Dreamers, funds health care, and aid for those harmed by recent disasters.

Frankly, I think we can still solve this by the deadline tomorrow. As my friend Senator Graham said, we could solve this all in 30 minutes if only folks were willing. It may not quite be 30 minutes, but knowing the negotiations as I do, we could do it rather quickly. Certainly, it wouldn't take us 30 days. Hopefully, after the CR goes down, folks will finally be willing.

And with a little more time on our hands, maybe the Majority Leader—we’re trying to help you Mitch—can pin down just what President Trump wants in order to get a deal.

Nobody wants to shut down the government, Mr. President. Democrats don’t want to shut down the government. Republicans don’t want to shut down the government. I believe that sincerely.

The only person that has ever rooted for a shutdown is President Trump, who said that our country could use a good shutdown. “A good shutdown” – only President Trump could come up with that phrasing. Of course, no shutdown can be good for the American people.

I fervently pray and urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, let us strive to avoid one. I urge my colleagues to reject this measure for the reasons I mentioned. It wasn't fair. We weren't consulted. It was take it or leave it. That's not how it should work. That's how almost none of us want this to work.

And if we can’t figure this out by tomorrow night, I urge the Majority, the Majority Leader in particular, to support a clean extension of funding for a few days so that we can finally find a resolution and get down to the so many other things we need to do in this chamber.