Schumer Floor Remarks on Republicans’ Lack of Compromise

January 21, 2018

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today spoke on the Senate floor regarding President Trump and Congressional Republicans’ lack of willingness to compromise.  Below are his remarks which can also be viewed here:

Mr. President, we now enter day two of the first real government shutdown ever to take place when one party controlled the Presidency, the House, and the Senate.

Under this unified control, it was the Republicans job to govern. It was their job to lead. It was their job to reach out to us to come up with a compromise.

Our democracy was designed to run on compromise. The Senate was designed to run on compromise. We are no dictatorship, subject to the whims of an executive, just as we are not a one-party system, where the winner of an election gets to decides everything and the minority nothing. We are a government that can only operate if the Majority party, the governing party, accepts and seeks compromise.

This Majority, however, has forgotten the lessons of the founding fathers. They have shown that they do not know how to compromise. Not only do they not consult us, but they can’t even get on the same page with their own President, the President from their own party. The Congressional leaders tell me to negotiate with President Trump. President Trump tells me to figure it out with the Congressional Leaders.

This political catch-22, never seen before, has driven our government to dysfunction. Americans know why the dysfunction is occurring: a dysfunctional President—hence, we are in a Trump Shutdown—and party leaders who won’t act without him. It has created the chaos and gridlock we find ourselves in today.

And it all stems from the President, whose inability to clinch a deal has created the Trump Shutdown.

I agree with Majority Leader McConnell’s – the Trump shutdown was totally avoidable. President Trump walked away from not one but two bipartisan deals. And that’s after he walked away from an agreement in principle on DACA we reached way back in the fall of last year. If he had been willing to accept any one of those deals, we wouldn’t be where we are today.

On Friday in the Oval Office, I made what I thought was a very generous offer to the President, the most generous offer yet. The president demanded for months that a deal on DACA include the wall. Most of we Democrats don’t think the wall is effective. We think it’s expensive and a waste of money. We’re all for tough border security, but every expert will tell you that drones and sensory devices and roads and personnel are far more effective than the wall. But, because the President campaigned on the wall, even though he said it would be paid for by Mexico, and demanded the wall, for the sake of compromise, for the sake of coming together, I offered it.

Despite what some people are saying on TV, mind you there are folks who were NOT in the room during the discussion, that is what happened. The President picked a number for the wall, and I accepted it. It wasn’t my number. It wasn’t the number in the bill here. He picked it. 

It would be hard to imagine a much more reasonable compromise. All along, the President saying, ‘Well I’ll do DACA, Dreamers in return for the wall.’ He’s got it. He can’t take yes for an answer. That’s why we’re here. And we don’t have anyone in the White House or here in the Senate, the House, Republicans in the President’s own party, to tell him he’s got to straighten this whole thing out. He can’t say yes one minute and no the next, three, four, five time. The bottom line is this: It would be hard to imagine a much more reasonable compromise. I was, in principle, agreeing to help the president get his signature campaign promise – something Democrats and Republicans on the Hill staunchly oppose – in exchange for DACA, a group of people the president said he has great love for. I essentially agreed to give the President something he said he wants, in exchange for something he also said he wants in exchange for something we both want.

But only hours after he seemed very open, very eager about that generous, tentative agreement—it was only tentative, there were no handshakes—he backed away from the last, best chance to avoid a shutdown. That’s why from one corner of America to the other, this is being called the Trump Shutdown. It’s trending all over. People from one area to another know it’s the Trump Shutdown, and they know why. They’ve seen what the President has done. It’s the direct result of a President who has proven unwilling to compromise, and thus unable to govern.

The deal wasn’t everything the President wanted, and it certainly wasn’t everything we wanted. What it was, was a compromise. Something nobody loved but everyone could live with – something good for the country. It would have staved off a government shutdown on Friday, and it could still reopen the government today.

So Mr. President, I’m willing to seal the deal, to sit and work, right now with the President or anyone he designates. Let’s get it done.

Meanwhile, the Republican Leader will have you believe that we Democrats forced this shutdown. He forgets that several members of his own party voted against the CR. Are they also holding the government hostage over illegal immigration? No, doesn’t seem that way.

The Republican Leader accuses the Democrats of holding up pay for our troops. I heard Speaker Ryan today blame the Senate for the holdup on national television. But yesterday, Mr. President, Senator McCaskill offered a motion to make sure our military gets paid and the Majority Leader himself objected. The Majority Leader prevented the troops from getting paid, because this would have passed in a minute. Speaker Ryan should talk to Leader McConnell, who’s the only person in the U.S. Senate standing in the way of paying our troops, not anybody here. We don’t want to use the troops as hostages.  Unfortunately, some on the other side may be doing just that. We could make sure our troops get paid right now if the Majority Leader would only consent. Or if there’s pride of authorship, let him offer the resolution. We won’t block it. We’ll applaud it. I hope it can happen as soon as possible.

The Republican Leader accuses Democrats of blocking CHIP when he knows full well that every Democrat here supports extending CHIP. It’s four months lapsed. Who let that happen? The Republican Majority. A Democratic Majority would never have allowed CHIP to expire. Now, just because it was placed on a CR that was a bad idea for so many reasons, Republicans pretend that Democrats are against CHIP. Quite the contrary. They were using the 10 million kids on CHIP, holding them as hostage for the 800,000 kids who were Dreamers. Kids against kids. Innocent kids against innocent kids. That’s no way to operate in this country.

So again, a party that controls the House, the Senate and the Presidency would rather sit back and point the fingers of blame at the minority than roll up their sleeves and govern.

The way out of this is simple. Our parties are very close on all of the issues we’ve been debating for months now, so close that I believed we might have a deal – twice – only for the President to change his mind and walk away.

The President must take yes for an answer. Until he does, it’s the Trump Shutdown. He says he has a love for the Dreamers – show it. He says he needs a wall and border security – accept our offer to help you do both of those things, because we Democrats, while we think the wall will not accomplish very much and will cost a lot of money, we strongly believe in border security and have fully supported the President’s offer or proposal on border security this year.

This is the Trump Shutdown – and only President can end it.

We Democrats are at the table, ready to negotiate. The President needs to pull up a chair and end this shutdown.