Schumer Remarks At Press Conference With Speaker Pelosi On The Real And Negative Consequences For American Families From Republicans’ Delays And Dysfunction On Coronavirus Response

July 23, 2020
Washington, D.C.—Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the real and negative consequences of Republicans’ delays and dysfunction on their coronavirus response for 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:
Thank you, Speaker Pelosi. And thank you for all the great work you have done on so many things and now most notably the Heroes bill, which our Senate Democratic caucus is in full support of.
Now, faced with the greatest economic challenge in seventy-five years, the greatest public health challenge in a century, Democrats have waited for months for Senate Republican colleagues to get serious about helping the American people who have suffered so much during this pandemic.
Now that Senate Republicans have finally woken up to the calamity in our country, they have been so divided, so disorganized, so unprepared that they have struggled to even draft a partisan proposal within their own conference. They can't come together. Even after all this time, it appears the Republican legislative response to COVID is un-unified, unserious, unsatisfactory.
The Republican disarray and dithering has potentially serious deadly consequences for tens of millions of Americans. 1.4 million Americans applied for unemployment last week, the first time the number rose since March.
Tomorrow the moratorium on evictions expires, exposing millions of Americans to the risk of being kicked out of their homes through no fault of their own.
And over the weekend, many states will send their final enhanced unemployment checks.
But here we are, still waiting for the Republicans to put together a partisan bill that will never become law just so they can muster up the courage to negotiate.
And now we're hearing that the Republicans may only be able to produce a series of disjointed, small proposals that don't even add up to a coherent plan to fight COVID.
From what we've read in public reports, their proposals—or series of proposals—won't include food assistance for hungry kids.
From what we know, it won't include rental assistance or extend the moratorium on evictions, keeping tens of millions of Americans with a roof over their heads.
It won't provide hazard pay to essential workers who have been risking their lives and their families' lives since the crisis began.
It won't make the necessary investments in communities of color who have been ravaged by this virus, disproportionately so.
It won't provide new funding for state and local governments and the need to keep teachers and bus drivers and sanitation workers on the job.
And from what we know, it won't even include funding to ensure our elections are safe this fall.
Remarkably, the likely centerpiece of the Republican legislative response to COVID is not help for the 20 to 30 million unemployed Americans or resources for testing and tracing. The centerpiece of the Republican proposal is a liability shield to protect big corporations from lawsuits if they put their workers at risk.
Seriously. Leader McConnell has made corporate immunity the centerpiece of the Republican response?
Once again, the Republican Senate is far more comfortable providing relief to big corporations than relief to workers and 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?
According to reports, the White House and Senate Republicans want to cut the enhanced unemployment benefits that Democrats secured in the CARES Act to a percentage of a worker's former wage.
That's right, America.
If you 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 of 30 percent or even more.
The number of unemployment claims, unfortunately, increased this week for the first time in 15 weeks. And Republicans are fighting amongst themselves over how much to cut unemployment benefits.
They're totally disorganized, disconnected from the reality Americans are confronting. Every day Republicans fight among themselves over how low to go and hardworking Americans continue to suffer.
Democrats are ready to work. Republicans need to pull their head out of the sand, get their act together, sit down with Speaker Pelosi and me, and start negotiating a real package.