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TRANSCRIPT: Majority Leader Schumer Delivers Remarks At A Press Conference Following Senate Passage Of The Bipartisan National Security Supplemental

Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke at a press conference on the Senate passing the bipartisan national security supplemental, which was approved by a vote of 70-29 this morning. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

Leader Schumer: Today, after not just a long night and weekend, but after months of work, we can say it's been worth it. Today, we witnessed one of the most historic and consequential bills pass the Senate –  a bill that so greatly impacts not just our national security, not just the security of our allies, but also the security of Western democracy as we know it.

Today, finally, America led the way for freedom and democracy –  and with this bill, the Senate declares that American leadership will not waver, falter or fail.  

Today, the Senate keeps its word to Ukrainians in need, desperate need of supplies and ammunition; to innocent Palestinians civilians in need, so much need of relief; to Israelis in need of support; and to U.S. service members on patrol in the Indo-Pacific, the Red Sea and around the world.

Today, we sent a clear, bipartisan message of resolve to our allies in NATO.

With the strong, bipartisan vote in the Senate, it's clear that if Speaker Johnson brings this bill to the House floor, it will pass with that same bipartisan support.

The responsibility now falls on Speaker Johnson and House Republicans to approve this bill swiftly. And I call on Speaker Johnson to rise to the occasion, to do the right thing, bring this bill to the floor.

As I said, given the large, robust majority here in the Senate, it is clear that if that bill is brought to the floor, our bill is brought to the floor, it will pass.

But if the hard-right kills this bill, it would be an enormous gift to Vladimir Putin. It would be a betrayal of our partners and allies and abandonment of our service members.

And as I said, I believe if this bill is brought to the House floor, it will pass with strong, bipartisan support. There are large numbers of Democrats and Republicans in the House who know we have to stand up to our responsibilities and aid Ukraine.

I thank all of my colleagues in the Senate who supported this bill. Thank you to Senators Murray and Murphy, Sinema and Lankford, Collins, Leader McConnell as well, and thank you to all the senators and staffs who worked through Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, and even the Super Bowl to get this done.

Finally, these past few months have been a great test for the U.S. Senate to see if we could escape the centrifugal pull of partisanship and summon the will to defend Western democracy and our own country's values when it matters most. Today, the Senate resoundingly passed that test and it makes me proud of the Senate.

Today, the Senate made sure that the United States is closer to meeting the monumental and consequential moment that we are in. And now it's up to the House to meet this moment, do the right thing, and save democracy as we know it.

Schumer: Ryan, go Bills.

Reporter: Next year.

Schumer: You're wearing your Ukrainian outfit.

Reporter: Not on purpose but okay.

Schumer: Mine is on purpose as you can probably tell.

Reporter: Speaker Johnson has already put out a statement that seems to have a degree of skepticism with this package. Will you speak to him directly and if you do talk to him directly, what will your message be?

Schumer: My message – I would hope to speak to Speaker Johnson directly, and my message is this is a rare moment where history is looking upon the United States and seeing if we will stand up for our values, stand up to bullies like Putin and do the right thing. I will say to Speaker Johnson, I am confident that there's a large majority in the House who will vote for this bill. I am confident there are many Republicans in his caucus, I know, I've spoken to a whole bunch of them who feel strongly we ought to pass this bill and I will urge Speaker Johnson to step up to the moment and do the right thing.

Reporter: Do you think it's time for the White House and Speaker Johnson to negotiate, pretty much similar to what the Senate did, but with those two parties involved -  

Schumer: I think the House should pass the Senate's bill. It's been through lots of negotiation. It got a large robust vote, 22 Republican votes in the Senate. They should pass this bill.

Reporter: Are you ruling out adding any border security language to this bill, either through amendment in the House or conference negotiation, are you ruling out adding anything--

Schumer: Look, the bottom line is this bill passed with a robust majority. We need to get aid to Ukraine quickly. We cannot dither for another 3-4 months, and the quickest and best way to do it is pass the Senate bill. We Democrats were willing, as you know, to go many steps in the direction of a strong border bill. Democrats were willing to support a bill supported by the Wall Street Journal editorial page. Democrats were willing to support a bill supported by the Border Patrol Union, which is very much a Republican organization, that was supported by the Chamber of Commerce, and unfortunately too many Republicans succumbed to the ministrations of Donald Trump. Trump who said at one point we have to do a border bill. Trump who said the border is an emergency. And then, in his own words, for crass political purposes said, let's delay this for a whole year because it might bring me help in my election, that's not going to wash with the American people.

Reporter: Would you encourage house Democrats and others in the House to use the discharge petition and if Speaker Johnson doesn't--

Schumer: I speak regularly to Hakeem Jeffries, almost as much, maybe as much as I spoke to Speaker Pelosi, and I have great faith in his ability to help engineer getting this bill done.

Reporter: Given that this funding would take Ukraine funding through the end of the year, how long do you think the U.S. needs to fight Ukraine's fight and how do you build a coalition given this took several months to build for the next round of funding?

Schumer: I think that the strong vote, particularly on the Republican side in the Senate, despite the fact that they're, you know, putative presidential candidate argued so strongly against it, gives us more momentum and I think that it will be, if we have to pass future aid to Ukraine, it will be easier, not harder, but right now this is a robust package that lasts until the end of the year so I'm glad it was full and robust.

Reporter: Mr. Leader, when you come back from recess, it will be a very short period of time until we have government funding deadlines. Where does that stand? And what are your thoughts on that. Do you think that Ukraine aid, would you like to see that possibly rolled in?

Schumer: First, [Appropriations Chair] Patty Murray and [Vice Chair] Susan Collins are working as a really good team together. There's broad support in the Senate and I believe in the House where we worked with Speaker Johnson on the last bill, to not shut down the government and fund things. We've done our 302(a)s, we’ve done our 302(b)s, and almost as we speak, maybe not early this morning after we were all up last night, but as we speak in day-to-day talk, they're working on getting these bills done. So I'm very optimistic that we can get them done by March 1st. As for adding one thing or another, we'll have to wait and see. The next step is for the House to pass the bill the Senate passed.

Reporter: Former President Trump seemed to suggest the other day he might want to see foreign aid be turned to loans to allied countries. If the House tried to amend this package to do that would that be a nonstarter?

Schumer: Look – the House should pass our bill. It's been through the crucible of four months of negotiations and ups and downs. It passed the crucible on the Republican side of almost a majority of Republicans, rejecting the result of their putative presidential candidate. We ought to stick with this bill. I mean, no one even knows how this loan program would work, you know, because Donald Trump says something off the cuff doesn't mean Republicans should march in lockstep to do it.

Reporter: And polls shows that voters are very concerned about President Biden’s age and the state of his memory, I’m curious, you deal with him a lot what is your personal information on that and what about your practical political concerns that he might not be able to get reelected.

Schumer: Okay, on the first one, I talk to President Biden you know, regularly, sometimes several times in a week, usually several times in a week. His mental acuity is great, it's fine, it’s as good as it's been over the years. I've been speaking to him for thirty years since we worked on the Brady Bill and the Assault Weapons Ban when I was a young congressman, and he's fine. All of this right-wing propaganda that his mental acuity has declined is wrong. He's going to win the election because he has a great record, because more and more Americans see the record, because the economy is improving, and because a large number of Americans including Republicans fear a Donald Trump presidency for the future of our democracy. Last one.

Reporter: You talked a bit about how Trump was able to influence or attempt to influence this negotiation, is that something you're expecting to need to deal with for government funding, everything else this year, the Trump factor?

Schumer: Look, Donald Trump inserts himself almost always for his own political purposes and it's no way to govern and I think the American people are getting wise to that. Thank you, everybody. Thanks for staying here! And for next year – go Bills.