Schumer Floor Remarks On The Urgent Need For Bipartisan Emergency COVID Relief Legislation

December 7, 2020

Washington, D.C. — Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the American people’s need for serious emergency COVID relief legislation as soon as possible and Leader McConnell’s refusal to bring a bipartisan bill to the floor. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

Everyone knows we are entering the worst stretch of the COVID-19 pandemic. As the winter months force more Americans indoors, infections are up, hospitalizations are up, and the number of Americans dying from COVID-19 is steadily and tragically increasing.

The economic fallout from the latest wave of the virus will also be a huge challenge. According to one study, nearly 12 million renters will owe an average of nearly $6,000 in back rent and utilities in January. Even the conservative U.S. Chamber of Commerce is sounding the alarm about a double-dip recession if Congress does not pass another round of emergency federal relief before the end of the year.

Unfortunately, our efforts to pass another emergency relief bill through the Senate have been stalled until now for one reason: the Republican leader has refused to compromise.

Again today, we heard the same old song from the Republican leader. His position has not budged since March. First, he put the Senate on pause, while the spread of the virus got worse and worse. Then, after pressure mounted, the Republican leader finally decided to put forward a series of bills comprised of only the things that Republicans approve of.

While the nation has been clamoring for a bipartisan solution, the Senate, under the leadership of the Republican leader, has only been allowed to vote on partisan Republican proposals, each of which has been sorely inadequate, and each of which has contained poison pills designed to ensure the bills’ failure.

The Republican leader never mentions those poison pills in his speeches to this chamber, where he excoriates Democrats for refusing to pass “bipartisan” legislation that “everyone agrees on.”

But “bipartisan” does not mean Democrats must agree to whatever the Republican leader wants, or whatever issues he picks. Bipartisan means both sides, sitting down, finding an agreement. We all know that’s the case. We have a Democratic House. They’re going to need Democratic votes in the Senate. So Senate Democrats are simply asking the Republican leader to do one thing: sit down and negotiate. Now since March, since Secretary Mnuchin and I negotiated the CARES bill, the Republican leader has constantly refused to sit down with Democrats and negotiate a bipartisan solution. He puts his bill with no Democratic input on the floor and says take it or leave it. That is no way, no way, to get things done. It wasn’t in April, or May, or June, or July, or August, or September, or October or November and it isn’t now. We want the leader to sit down and negotiate so we can come up with a bipartisan proposal that can pass both the House and the Senate.

And Speaker Pelosi and I have modified our proposals several times in an effort to meet our Republican counterparts in the middle. Last week, Speaker Pelosi and I went even further and agreed to use a bipartisan bill – crafted by moderate Senators from both sides of the aisle – as a framework for the negotiations.

We have not heard the same willingness from the Republican leader.

However, there are some encouraging signs. The bipartisan group of Senators and House members working on this latest proposal continues to make progress. I was encouraged to see the Senator from Louisiana this weekend said he was hopeful the President would sign such an agreement. Let’s use the work of the Gang of 8 as the basis for bipartisan negotiations and compromise.

The bottom line: we have to get something done for the American people, before the end of the year. We Democrats have been trying since the spring, back when Republicans were saying they did not feel the “urgency” of acting. I believe those were the Leader’s words.

Well, it’s going to take a sense of urgency now, Mr. Leader, and it’s going to take a willingness to give a little. Not just to put your bill on the floor and say take it or leave it.

As I said, it’s encouraging that some Republicans are already on that path. Hopefully the Republican leader can catch up with the more fair-minded members of his caucus.