Schumer Floor Remarks on the End of the Government ShutdownJanuary 22, 2018
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the bipartisan compromise to end the government shutdown and move forward with funding negotiations. Below are his remarks which can also be viewed here:
Mr. President, today we enter the third day of the Trump Shutdown, the first ever real shutdown to occur when one party controls the entire legislative process.
The Republican Party controls the House, the Senate, and the Presidency, and yet they were unable to keep the government open for the American people. Leader McConnell knows it takes 60 votes to win passage of a spending bill, and yet he moved forward with a last-minute extension that he knew lacked the votes. Both Democrats and Republicans voted against that bill.
The reason the Republican majority had such difficulty finding consensus is that they could never get a firm grip on what the president of their party wanted to do. These days, you never know who to deal with when it comes to the Republicans. The Republican Leaders told me to work out a deal with the White House, the White House said to work it out with Republicans leaders on the Hill.
Separately, President Trump turned away from not one but two bipartisan compromises. Each would have averted this shutdown. Each would have led to a deal on the budget, and health care, and disaster aid, and things like opioids and veterans and pensions, and on immigration. My most recent offer to the President was a generous one. I put his signature campaign issue on the table in exchange for DACA, and still, he turned away. President Trump’s unwillingness to compromise caused the Trump shutdown and brought us to this moment.
These facts are well known.
Now, I wish to update the Senate on where things stand after this weekend.
Since our meeting in the Oval Office on Friday, the President and I have not spoken, and the White House refused to engage in negotiations over the weekend. The great deal-making President sat on the sidelines.
Despite and because of this frustration, I’ve been having conversations with the Republican Leader over the weekend about a path forward. After several discussions, offers and counter-offers, the Republican Leader and I have come to an arrangement.
We will vote today to reopen the government to continue negotiating a global agreement, with the commitment that, if an agreement isn’t reached by February the 8th, the Senate will immediately proceed to the consideration of legislation dealing with DACA immediately after the expiration of the bill on February 8th.
That process will be neutral and fair to all sides. We expect that a bipartisan bill on DACA will receive fair consideration and an up or down vote on the floor.
It is a shame that the Senate and the American people have had to endure such hand-wringing and finger-pointing and stridency to secure a guarantee that we will finally move to address this urgent issue. It is something the majority could have avoided entirely, a concern the President could have obviated if he were only willing to take yes for an answer.
While this procedure will not satisfy everyone on both sides, it is a way forward. I am confident that there are sixty votes in the Senate for a DACA bill. And now there is a real pathway to get a bill on the floor and through the Senate. It is a good solution, and I will vote for it. I’m incredibly grateful to the bipartisan group that has come together in recent days to renew the immigration debate with a sense of urgency. There you are. I believe that this group has the potential to return the Senate to the kind of place it should be on the issue of immigration: a place for bipartisanship, a place for action, a place for achievement. The bipartisan group, in a very fine way, filled the glaring absence of the President in these talk.
I expect the Majority Leader to fulfill his commitment to the Senate, to me and the bipartisan group, and abide by this agreement. If he does not, of course -- and I expect he will -- he will have breached the trust of not only the Democratic Senators but the members of his own party as well.
Through these complicated and lengthy negotiations, Democrats have always sought to be reasonable, to act in good faith, and to get something real done. Despite all our entreaties, the President was obstinate. Despite bipartisan support for DACA, the Republican Majority dithered. The Senate has muddled along for too long, content to delay action on our most pressing challenges until the very last moment. That ends today. The Republican majority now has seventeen days to prevent the Dreamers from being deported.
Mr. President, we have a way to address the fate of the Dreamers, starting right now instead of waiting until March, with the Minority and the moderate middle empowered to bring a deal to the floor instead of being held by the most strident, anti-immigration voices in the Republican caucus. And we, on our side of the aisle, will continue to fight as strongly as we can for the Dreamers in the weeks ahead. I say to all Americans, urge your Senators to vote yes on the bipartisan compromise, when it comes forward. Write, tweet, email, call, visit, do everything you can, so we can finally pass this bill.
In a few hours, the government will reopen, and we have a lot to do. The issue of the Dreamers demands resolution. A budget must be written. Health care ought to be addressed and relief provided to disaster-stricken parts of our country. Pensions and opioids, veterans, childcare, all have to be taken care of.
The Trump Shutdown will soon end, but the work must go on, and it will.