TRANSCRIPT: Schumer Remarks At Queens, NY Press Conference With President Biden Calling For Passage Of Urgently-Needed Investments To Combat Climate Crisis In Build Back Better Budget Bill

September 7, 2021

Queens, N.Y.   Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today delivered remarks at a press conference with President Joe Biden, New York Governor Kathy Hochul, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and members of the New York delegation on the major disaster declaration following catastrophic flooding from Tropical Storm Ida. Senator Schumer stressed that he will fight for all the aid needed to recover from this catastrophic flooding and emphasized the urgent need to fight climate change by getting the Build Back Better budget reconciliation bill signed into law.  Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks:

Thank you, Governor Hochul, Senator Gillibrand and all my great colleagues. We are working all three levels of government. And why it's such a large, impressive [assemblage] of people here, is because this man [President Biden] came. This man, right here, came without anyone having to hock him – that's a Brooklyn word – or bother him to come.

Mr. President, it is my distinct honor to welcome you to Queens, a bustling borough of over 2 million New Yorkers with staggering diversity and infinite talent, equal parts passion and compassion.

Now, you being here today, Mr. President, is a hallmark of your hands-on presidency – not just sitting in Washington, but seeing and hearing people's trouble, and then acting decisively to help, not the least of which is by promptly approving a major disaster declaration quicker than any President has ever done. And we are so, so grateful.

Now, perhaps nowhere else reflects the diversity of New York, and our nation, than Queens, where hundreds of languages – hundreds – are spoken every single day. From Archie Bunker to LL Cool J, to Awkwafina, Queens literally has it all. Not to mention some of the best arepas, vindaloo, moussaka, carbonara, and Guinness on the planet.

As a congressman, my district included parts of Queens, so this community's near and dear to my heart, and it pains us so to see and witness the loss of life and property. It pains us deeply to read the stories of neighbors we lost in the storm.

Mr. President, less than two miles from where we're standing, in Woodside, two parents, Ang Lama and Mingma Sherpa perished, along with their toddler son, Lobsang Lama, as water rushed into their basement apartment. Lobsang was 14 months old, a little beautiful boy, gone, gone.

The same brutal story repeated itself across New York as Ida dumped a record amount of rain. People trapped in their own homes. In a matter of minutes, a place of safety and refuge became a coffin.

Mr. President, we're so thankful that you're here, not just to see for yourself the destruction and damage wrought by Ida, but also to deliver the prompt aid we urgently need. This community is hurting. We've lost loved ones. We've lost homes. We've lost small businesses and even small things; the marriage albums; the mementos; the pictures that can never be replaced, no matter how much financial help we're able to get people. Leaves a hole in your heart, a hole in your heart.

Now in the short term, of course, we need the federal aid to staunch the bleeding and rebuild stronger and more resilient than before. And, Mr. President, I thank you for heeding my call and that of Senator Gillibrand, and the call of Governor Hochul and my colleagues in the New York delegation, many of whom are here who did such a great job for New York. Let's have the congressional delegation—a round of applause for them.

We will all work to speedily grant public assistance, which goes to the city and localities, individual assistance, grants—grants not loans—of up to $36,000 per individual, and small business support that will unlock aid to many homeowners and businesses who need it.

But my friends, as you know, Mr. President, we cannot stop there.

Our climate is changing in ways that are undeniable – that are accelerating – that are caused by humans, that are devastating communities here in Queens and across America, with increasing unfortunate frequency.

The last time this much rain fell on New York City was just 11 days before Ida when Tropical Storm Henri deluged New York City and Long Island, only two months after Tropical Storm Fred ravaged upstate New York.

Let me repeat that. In the span of just one week. New York City saw two-two once in a century storms, within one week. This is not normal.

This is not normal.

And that's why we so urgently need Mr. President, your big and bold Build Back Better plan.

We must attack the cancer of climate change that is driving these destructive storms.

That means protecting our frontline communities that bear the brunt of pollution and decarbonizing our economy, ASAP, and implementing a just transition fueled by American workers being paid a fair wage. We need to prepare for the next storm and the one following that, and in doing so, ensure our investments help create a more resilient New York for this generation and future generations.

Build Back Better has very ambitious goals – reducing 50% of carbon that goes into the atmosphere by 2030 and 80% clean electricity by that year as well. This is your way, Mr. President – I am so proud of what you have done and so impressed – to boldly and courageously confront the challenges we face, be they climate change, racial and economic inequity, or disaster response, and in the process to build a healthier, more unified, more just, and a more robust United States of America.

So without further ado, let me welcome the man who will lead us out of darkness of this present moment, and help us achieve a brighter future for Queens, for New York, and the whole United States of America, our great President Joseph Robinette Biden.