Schumer Floor Remarks On The Shooting In Poway, CA; On The Passing Of Senator Dick Lugar; On Congress’ Need For The Full, Un-redacted Mueller Report; On The Need For Disaster Relief Funding For Puerto Rico And Other Hard-Hit Regions Across The U.S.; And On Priorities For Any Comprehensive Bipartisan Infrastructure BillApril 29, 2019
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the shooting in Poway, CA and the rise of anti-Semitism in the United States and around the world; the passing of Senator Dick Lugar (R-IN); Congress’ need for the full, un-redacted Mueller report; the need for disaster relief funding for Puerto Rico and other hard-hit regions across the United States; and priorities for any comprehensive bipartisan infrastructure bill ahead of tomorrow’s Democrat-requested meeting at the White House. Below are his remarks, which can also be viewed here:
Now Madam President, before I begin the bulk of my remarks, I want to take a moment to express my heartfelt condolences to the victims of the shooting on Saturday in California, when a gunman opened fire in a synagogue during services after yelling anti-Semitic slurs. His heinous attack left a 60-year-old woman dead, the rabbi wounded, and a man and an 8-year-old girl with shrapnel wounds.
We have seen so many different houses of worship attacked in recent weeks. Just one week ago, on Easter Sunday, hundreds of Christian Sri Lankans were massacred in their churches. And what happened at the synagogue in California is rooted in the same white-supremacist hatred and bile that drove attacks against the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh; mosques in New Zealand; and Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston.
And so we must recommit ourselves, today and every day, to fighting anti-Semitism – and all forms of bigotry – in our country and around the world.
I also want to share a word on the passing of our friend and former colleague Dick Lugar of Indiana.
Dick personified the Senate at its best – honest, decent, and with an eye for consensus. He represented the kind of thoughtful bipartisanship that is so missing in our politics today. And his work on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, twice as its leader, made the world a safer and fairer place: whether it was combating the proliferation of nuclear weapons, apartheid in South Africa, or world hunger.
His legacy, as a legislator and as a man, is something for all of us to aspire to. Senator Lugar will be greatly missed.
Now Madam President, while the Congress was away during the state work period, Attorney General Barr released a redacted version of Special Counsel Mueller’s report to the Congress and the American people.
The report documents – yet again – a concerted effort by President Putin to interfere in and influence our elections to assist the current president. Members of the Trump campaign were aware of, and at times amplified, that foreign influence campaign, including President Trump himself, for the likely purpose of winning a presidential election.
That alone constitutes attacks on our democracy. And just as alarming was the behavior of the president and his team concerning Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation itself. Special Counsel Mueller’s report documents a persistent effort by the president to stonewall, thwart, and undermine the legitimacy of the Mueller investigation. The report includes no less than eleven instances during which the president may have obstructed justice.
So there is no question that President Trump engaged in a pattern of intimidation and interference with a federal investigation. Special Counsel Mueller explicitly states in his report that if he could have exonerated the president on the charge of criminal obstruction of justice, then he would have. But “evidence about the president’s actions and intent…prevent us from conclusively determining that no criminal conduct occurred.”
Also, it appears that the Justice Department’s policy against the indictment of sitting presidents played an important role in the Special Counsel’s analysis.
Now, the Congress and the American people must grapple with this damning portrait of a president who was dishonest, lawless, and regularly abused the powers of his office.
The House of Representative is going to pursue hearings. The Senate will hear from Attorney General Barr this week, where he must answer for his mischaracterizations of the special counsel’s findings, his outrageously partisan press conference, and in general, his failure to behave with the impartiality demanded of the office of Attorney General.
Special Counsel Mueller must testify before the Congress to further explain the findings in his report and provide clarity on areas where the Attorney General twisted his words.
And Congress must be given access to an un-redacted version of the report. Knowing Attorney General Barr’s conduct, we cannot trust him to be a clean pair of hands in all of this.
So while many on the other side of the aisle may want to move on from these issues, we cannot simply move on.
Congress – Democrats and Republicans – must grapple with the facts of the Mueller report; we must defend our democracy, and yes, hold the president accountable. These are not partisan issues. This is about our country, the sanctity of our elections, and the future of the presidency.
In the wake of the Mueller Report, I’ve been asked a lot: what are Democrats going to do with the Mueller report? Well, the real question should be: what are my Republicans friends going to do with it?
Now on another matter: disaster relief. Congress shamefully recessed for the state work period without passing relief for Americans who were affected by natural disasters that occurred recently.
This needs to be a top legislative priority over the next few weeks. We’re already a third of the way into 2019 and millions of Americans are still waiting for us to provide necessary funding so that they can recover and rebuild from disasters that happened months ago, in some cases longer than that.
The Democratic position is clear: we support an all-of-the-above approach that provides relief for every American affected by natural disasters – Americans in the Midwest, Americans in the South, Americans on the West Coast, and yes, Americans in Puerto Rico.
Up until now, Senate Republicans have blocked our proposals – everyone knows why. That is because President Trump has shown a borderline obsessive hostility to the people of Puerto Rico. My Republican colleagues have, unfortunately, followed President Trump’s lead. And it has caused us to fail in our responsibility to provide long-overdue aid to Americans struggling to piece their lives back together after hurricanes, floods, fires, and droughts.
Well, my friends on the other side have had a few weeks to think about it. I sincerely hope that we can press the reset button. We’ve got a legislative proposal, introduced by my friend Congresswoman Lowey, that takes care of all of these disaster victims, and it’s ready to go in the House.
So as we get back to legislative business this week, I urge my colleagues: let’s put politics aside. Let’s do the right thing. Let’s tell President Trump that his obsessive nastiness to Puerto Rico, unfounded by fact, is not going to prevent millions of people in the Middle West, and the West, and the South from getting the relief they need. Let’s provide disaster relief for every – every – American who needs it.
Finally, Madam President, tomorrow morning, at the Democrats’ request, the Speaker and I will meet with President Trump at the White House to discuss the glaring need to invest in our nation’s infrastructure.
During the presidential campaign, candidate Trump promised a trillion dollar infrastructure bill. It was one of the few areas where most Democrats, myself included, believed we could find common ground with the president after he was elected.
Unfortunately, it has been over two years; the president hasn’t proposed anything close to a trillion-dollar investment and has shown little interest in pursuing an infrastructure bill in Congress.
Senate Democrats, however, have put together a trillion-dollar infrastructure investment, a real plan that invests federal dollars not just in roads, bridges, and highways – as important as they are, and they are – but also in schools, housing, electric grids, rural broadband and green energy.
There are several different ways to pay for such a bill. For example, by reversing only the most egregious giveaways in President Trump’s tax bill – those given to the wealthiest of the wealthiest – and raising the corporate tax rate a smidge, we could finance the entirety of a trillion dollar infrastructure bill.
So while we look forward to an open discussion tomorrow, it’s important to remember two things: First, our country has large infrastructure demands. We need to go big and we need to address not just roads and bridges, but schools, housing, broadband, green energy and more.
And second, we need to remember that after Republicans handed out a mammoth tax break to big corporations and the already wealthy, it would be extraordinarily unfair to ask the middle class to shoulder the cost of an infrastructure bill. The tax code should not be made any more regressive than it is now to pay for an infrastructure bill.
We look forward to our discussion tomorrow, and hopefully, the president will have an open mind.
I yield the floor.