Schumer Floor Remarks On The Worsening Impacts Of The Trump Shutdown And The Need For Leader McConnell And Senate Republicans To Help Re-Open The Government

January 4, 2019

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the worsening impacts of the Trump shutdown and the need for Leader McConnell and Senate Republicans to help re-open the government. Below are his remarks, which can also be viewed here:

Mr. President, now as we near the third week of the Trump shutdown, the impacts on the American people are getting worse with each passing day.

·         Nearly 400,000 federal workers have now been furloughed;

·         Food safety inspectors, vital to our health and safety, are working without pay and with limited resources;

·         American farmers can’t get loans from the USDA;

·         Working families trying to buy a home are finding out their FHA loans are on hold. I just heard from a constituent of mine in the capital region near Albany, a fire/police dispatcher, whose wife is pregnant. They closed on their first house joyously last week but now their loan is delayed until the government reopens. That story can be repeated over and over again.

·         Our federal courts are running out of money;

·         Our National Parks are suffering. We’ve seen the piles of debris and garbage in these beautiful places;

·         And, maybe most ironically of all, as the president is talking about making the border more secure, his shutdown is making it less secure. Border patrol agents are going without pay, E-verify is offline, immigration cases are on hold, new immigration judges are not being hired.

So with all the talk the president has about making the border more secure, the Trump shutdown is making it less secure and we’ve provided a way for him to continue to debate this wall issue but keep the government open.

So all of this means we should be doing everything we can to bring this Trump shutdown to a swift end.

Now my friend the Republican Leader quoted me this morning, so let me now quote my friend the Leader. He has said repeatedly “Nobody likes a shutdown.” Leader McConnell has shown himself to be an adept negotiator during previous shutdowns. Why is he abdicating his responsibility now? Why is Leader McConnell shuffling off to the sidelines, pointing his figures at everyone else and saying he won’t be involved?

Probably because he realizes this president, President Trump, is erratic, unreliable and sometimes even irrational. In sum, President Trump is a terrible negotiator. Given the unfortunate traits that reside in our president, I understand Leader McConnell’s reluctance to get involved. But in truth, they are all the more reason for him getting involved. America needs Leader McConnell to get involved to stop this shutdown. He can’t keep ducking this issue.

Left to his own devices, President Trump can keep the government shutdown for a long time. The president needs intervention. And Leader McConnell and Senate Republicans are just the right ones to intervene.

Fortunately, we have a way to end this shut down with the help of our Republican friends in the Senate.

Last night, as expected, the House of Representatives passed two pieces of legislation to end the Trump shutdown: a six-bill package to provide appropriations for eight shuttered cabinet departments, and a thirty-day continuing resolution for the Department of Homeland Security. Both bills received bipartisan support in the House.

The logic behind these two pieces of legislation is simple. We have disagreements on how best to secure the border. President Trump wants an expensive and ineffective border wall. He promised Mexico would pay for it but now demands American taxpayers foot the bill.

Democrats believe a border wall is an obtuse public policy and that we have much better, more effective, less wasteful ways of securing the border.

But we don’t have to have eight unrelated cabinet departments closed while we sort out our differences.

We can reopen the twenty-five percent of the government now closed and continue to debate on border security. That’s why we’ve split the bills in two – one to re-open the government, and another to keep DHS running short-term while discussions continue about the border.

Neither piece of legislation should be controversial. And the House majority – give them credit, Speaker Pelosi credit – went out of its way to avoid controversy. They didn’t send over a bill with poison pill riders with lots of things that our colleagues here wouldn’t like. They sent the very bills that Republicans crafted and voted for. The majority went out of its way to avoid controversy by choosing the legislation supported by Republicans. Let me emphasize that: the six appropriations bills passed by the House last night are the same bills – the very same bills, they have not changed a bit – that Republicans here in the Senate drafted – they were in charge –  and approved. Four of them passed this chamber by more than 90 votes. The other two passed nearly unanimously in Committee. Leader McConnell voted for every one of them and spoke glowingly about their passage last year.

So there is nothing – I repeat, nothing – in the six appropriation[s] bills that Leader McConnell and Senate Republicans oppose. There is nothing, absolutely nothing about a continuing resolution for Homeland Security that Leader McConnell and Senate Republicans oppose. Because that was Leader McConnell’s idea. He put it on the floor and it passed the chamber unanimously last Christmas. So now we’re seeing some real cracks in the Republican wall.

Some of my friends on the other side of the aisle, this body, to their credit, are already saying that we should take up and pass these two bills. Seven House Republicans – newly elected, under huge pressure not to – voted with these bills. Every Democrat voted for the bill, there’s no dissention there, but a handful of Republicans did, too. So it’s time for Leader McConnell and President Trump – who is the ultimate reason we have this shutdown – it’s time for Leader McConnell and President Trump to support this package of bipartisan legislation and reopen the government.

In a short time, Speaker Pelosi and I will head to the White House to meet with President Trump and congressional leaders about the government shutdown. I’ll be joined by my very able colleagues, Senator Durbin; Senator McConnell will be joined by Senator Thune; Speaker Pelosi will be joined by Leader Hoyer; and of course, Leaders McCarthy and Scalise will be there, as well. At the meeting, we Democrats hope to convince the president and Leader McConnell to take up and pass two House-passed bills – both of which have already been approved by Senate Republicans. That’s the quickest, least controversial way out of the Trump shutdown. It separates the fight on the wall from the government shutdown. President Trump is holding hostage, using as leverage, hundreds of thousands of federal workers, and millions and millions of other Americans like the gentleman and his spouse from Albany who can’t get their FHA mortgage approved. And that story in many ways can be repeated over and over again.

So I say to my Republican friends: don’t let President Trump hold hostage all of these fine people who have done nothing wrong themselves. Don’t let him use the government shutdown to try and get his way because that’s not how it should work and that’s not what’s going to happen.

Instead, let’s re-open the government, start paying our food safety inspectors, our park rangers, our air traffic controllers, our federal courts, and our border patrol agents, so they can do the work they’re supposed to do for the American people. All we have to do is take up legislation that Senate Republicans already support.