Schumer Floor Remarks On The Painful Consequences Of Republicans’ Delays And Dysfunction For American Families Struggling Through The Coronavirus Economic And Public Health Crises

July 23, 2020
Washington, D.C.—Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the painful consequences of Republicans’ delays and dysfunction, which are preventing needed assistance to the American families who continue to struggle through the COVID-19 public health and economic crisis. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:
Faced with the greatest economic challenge in seventy five years and the greatest public health threat in a century, we Senate Democrats have waited for months for our Republican colleagues in the Senate to get serious about another round of emergency relief for the American people.
Now that Senate Republicans have finally woken up to the calamity in our country, they have given up wishing it would go away following the president's wishing everything would go away to the detriment of this country. Our Republican colleagues have been so divided, so disorganized, and so unprepared that they have struggled to draft a partisan proposal within their own conference.
This is before they talk to a single Democrat. This is before they even consider what the House has done.
It does seem that sometime soon, Republicans may finally unveil a legislative proposal, or, because they’re so disorganized and divided and can’t agree, a series of smaller bills that don’t even amount to one coherent proposal.
Even after all this time, it appears the Republican legislative response to COVID-19 is un-unified, unserious, unsatisfactory.
Let me repeat that: despite hitting “pause” on the Senate for three months, despite waiting more than sixty days after House Democrats passed their plan to start work on their own, the Senate Republican response to COVID is un-unified, unsatisfactory, and fundamentally unserious.
From what we know, their proposal or series of proposals, won’t include food assistance for hungry kids.
Families, where the parent has lost a job through no fault of her or his own, can't feed their kids in this proposal—as we hear about it.
From what we know, it won’t include rental assistance or extend the moratorium on evictions that is keeping tens of millions of Americans with a roof over their heads.
Millions of Americans have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. They can't pay the rent or the mortgage. Our Republican friends say evict them.
It won’t provide hazard pay to our essential workers, who have been risking their lives and their families’ lives since this crisis began.
It won’t make the necessary investments in communities of color that have been ravaged by this virus, disproportionately so.
It won’t provide the new funding that state and local governments need to keep bus drivers and sanitation workers, teachers and so many others, on the job.
From what we know, it won’t even include funding to ensure, during this COVID crisis, our elections are safe this fall.
Remarkably, the likely centerpiece of the Republican legislative response to COVID is not an aid package for the 20-30 million unemployed Americans, or a massive influx of resources to test and trace and finally stop the spread of this evil disease. The centerpiece of the Republican proposal is a liability shield to protect big corporations from lawsuits if they put their workers at risk.
Seriously. As COVID continues to surge through our country and unemployment numbers rose again for the first time in weeks, Leader McConnell has made corporate immunity the centerpiece of this Republican response.
Once again, the Republican Senate is far more comfortable providing relief to big corporations than relief to American workers and American families.
How about instead of shielding corporations from liability, we shield renters from eviction?
How about instead of shielding corporations from liability, we shield the unemployed from poverty?
Even in those areas where the Senate Republicans seem to be moving a bit in our direction, it looks like they’re coming up way short.
Republicans aren’t talking about providing enough resources to our schools to re-open safely.
According to reports, the White House and Senate Republicans want to extend the enhanced unemployment benefits that Democrats secured in the CARES Act, but only provide a percentage of a worker’s former wage.
That’s right, America. If you’ve lost your job through no fault of your own, and can’t go back to work because this administration has mismanaged the crisis, Republicans want you to take a pay cut in the middle of this crisis.
Worse still, because Republicans dithered and delayed for so long, there will be an interruption in unemployment benefits. Eviction protections will expire, no matter what we do, because they waited until the last minute, and even at this last minute can't seem to get their act together.
Leader McConnell and Senate Republicans dismissed the House-passed Heroes Act because it included a few items that Republicans didn’t think were absolutely necessary. Well, the Republicans can't even get their act together to provide the basics. Senate Republicans can’t even get their act together to provide the basics. Food for kids. Keeping Americans in their homes. Preventing the unemployed from poverty, giving the economy the needed help so we can overcome this recession.
You can’t say you support the essential workers, and then refuse to give them hazard pay.
You can’t say you want to fix racial issues, then throw millions of Americans of color out of housing and off unemployment benefits during a pandemic.
You can’t say you want to honor John Lewis, and then refuse to provide funding for safe elections.
Congress needs to act quickly, but the developing Republican proposals are not going to get the job done. We need to immediately enter bipartisan, bicameral negotiations to develop a proposal that actually meets the moment, and matches the scale of the crisis.