Schumer Floor Remarks On The Upcoming Senate Vote On House-Passed Legislation To Reopen The Government – Legislation That Would Provide Relief To Hundreds Of Thousands Of Federal Workers Suffering Because Of The Trump Shutdown

January 23, 2019
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the upcoming Senate vote on House-passed legislation to reopen the government – legislation that would provide relief to hundreds of thousands of federal workers suffering because of the Trump Shutdown. Below are his remarks, which can also be viewed here:

Mr. President, yesterday the Republican Leader, my friend, announced that the Senate would hold two votes on Thursday afternoon. First, the Senate will vote on the president’s proposal, and then the Senate will vote on an amendment that is essentially identical to the underlying bill sent to us from the House, meaning a continuing resolution that opens the government for three weeks plus disaster assistance.

Let me be very clear: these two votes are not equivalent votes. It’s not on the one hand, on the other hand. The President’s proposal demands a wall and radical legal immigration changes in exchange for opening up the government. The second vote demands nothing in exchange for opening the government. So the first vote, unless you do it my way, “I’m keeping the government shut down” – it’s the Trump amendment. Our amendment: open up the government and then let’s talk. To say: well, one is a Democratic amendment, one’s a Republican amendment doesn’t get the magnitude of this, the difference. Because one is holding 800,000 workers hostage, millions of Americans hostage, unless the amendment authors get their way. The second says: we’re not demanding anything. Just open up the government and then let’s discuss it.

The first vote is completely partisan. The first vote is the president’s hostage-taking position codified into an amendment. It says: you must do it our way – 5.7 billion dollars for a wall – before we open the government.

The second vote is the opposite. It does not demand anything before we reopen the government. It simply reopens the government for three weeks and allows us to continue debating border security. There is nothing partisan about the second vote. If President Trump weren’t opposed to it, there would be nothing controversial about the second vote and just about every Republican would vote for it like they did the first time a month ago. The second vote is not a Democratic proposal with Democratic demands. The first vote is a Republican proposal with Republican demands. One simply reopens the government – the other says no way, no way. It embodies the president’s temper tantrum. If you don’t do it my way I’m shutting down the government and hurting lots of people. So the two votes are not equivalent. It’s not on the one hand, on the other. They are diametrically opposed in concept.

Now, I do give Leader McConnell credit. He put on the floor, for the first time, an ability for Senators to vote on a clean proposal to reopen the government – that’s the second vote. It is completely silent on the issue of border security. A vote for the continuing resolution does not preclude a continued discussion on how we best secure our border. It doesn’t say pro wall or anti-wall – it just says open up the government. It is a way to reopen the government while we continue to work out our differences.

I want my friends, my Republican friends, to understand the stakes here. Reopening the government for three weeks may not sound like a long time, but it’s massively important to 800,000 public servants who have been languishing without pay. Reopening the government even for three weeks would mean that all 800,000 get their back pay – to which they are entitled. Three full paychecks: one for January 11th, one for January 25th, one for February 8th. Let me repeat that: even a three-week continuing resolution would provide a full three paychecks to our federal employees – TSA, border patrol, FBI agents; air traffic controllers; food safety inspectors; Coast Guard. Every one of the ones I mentioned involves our security.

The president says, totally incorrectly, misstating all the facts, that we need a big wall for our security. Well, even if he succeeds, which he won’t, I believe, it would take years to build that wall. And there’s eminent domain and so many other issues that it might never be built at all. But hurting TSA, hurting border patrol, hurting FBI agents, air traffic controllers, food safety inspectors, Coast Guard members? They deal with our security right now. Right now. So if you believe in the security of America you vote yes on the second vote – no matter what you think of the wall.

The American people – it’s amazing – more and more, they were on our side to start with; they’re turning more on our side now. In a CBS poll this morning, seven out of ten Americans say the issue of a border wall is not worth this government shutdown, including 71% of independents, but astoundingly 43% of all Republicans say a border wall is not worth a government shutdown! Close to half of all Republican voters are saying to President Trump and Leader McConnell and to every Republican senator in this chamber: don’t keep this shutdown going over the wall. Don’t hold the government hostage. Open it back up and figure out your policy differences.

Because of the president’s destructive hostage-taking gambit, as I said, his disapproval rating reached the highest level of his presidency in the CBS poll. And I would remind my colleagues, parenthetically, that this poll and another one this morning that showed the same thing – with President Trump’s ratings lower than ever – occurred after his speech on Saturday. So his gambit to try and get the shutdown off his back failed, as it should have. Because the shutdown is solely his. He said he was proud of it. He said 25 times before he did it that he wanted to do it. Everyone knows the shutdown is his, and neither the president nor our Republican friends can squiggle out of that one.

What more do my Republican colleagues need to hear? The will of the American people is crystal clear: open the government. I know that President Trump has some power in these Republican primaries but sometimes you have to rise to the occasion. Rise to the occasion. The second bill, without any preconceptions, preconditions, says open the government. The first bill: hostage-taking. “Unless you do it my way, the government is staying shut down.” So these are not equivalent bills. These are not “on the one hand,” “on the other hand.”

For weeks, Mr. President, we’ve been at a stalemate. Leader McConnell has not allowed a vote on legislation to reopen the government until now. Tomorrow, the Senate will finally have its chance.

We can vote to reopen the government until February 8th and continue to discuss border security.

So if you’re worried about the hundreds of thousands of federal employees going without pay; if you’re worried about the impacts of the shutdown on our economy, or our basic security, as law enforcement and border patrol and food safety are not paid; if you’re worried about our national security’; and if you’re looking for a way to open up the government, this is the way – the second vote – the only way that’s on the floor of the Senate and can actually open up the government.

I urge all of my Republican colleagues, as they did once before President Trump said what he said – join us Democrats, bipartisan, on the second vote tomorrow and finally open up the government.
 
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