Schumer Floor Remarks On The Republican Proposal Prioritizing Corporate Immunity Over Support To Families Struggling Through COVID And Calling For Serious Legislation That Meets The Needs Of The American People
July 29, 2020
Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor on
Senate Republicans’ decision to make corporate immunity a higher priority than
support for families that are still struggling through the coronavirus
pandemic. Senator Schumer also noted the apparent lack of support for Leader
McConnell’s proposal and called for a serious, bipartisan proposal to address
the COVID crises and meet the needs of the American people. In addition, he
spoke regarding the nomination of Lauren McFerra to the National Labor Relation’s
Board. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks,
which can also be viewed here
Over the past three months, as
Americans stayed home, forfeiting their routines and their livelihoods to
combat the spread of the virus; as essential workers risked their safety and
their family’s safety; as 50 million Americans filed unemployment claims, small
businesses folded, and the disease spread rapidly through the summer; the
Republican majority “paused” on addressing COVID-19 while they confirmed more
right wing judges.
Americans pitched in and sacrificed
and many suffered greatly, while Senate Republicans kept their assembly line of
extreme judicial nominees humming along and did little else.
And now, after an interminable delay,
Senate Republicans have finally admitted that the country needs relief. But
they can’t even get their act together to produce a halfway legitimate
We all witnessed a week and a half of
infighting on the Republican side as the country careened towards several
cliffs created by Republican delay. Republicans bickered amongst themselves as
the moratorium on evictions expired, state and local governments shed jobs and
cut public services, and the last enhanced unemployment checks went out the
When Republicans finally convinced
themselves they were ready to unveil a plan, instead of presenting a single,
coherent bill, Republicans released several incongruent drafts littered with
corporate giveaways, K-street handouts, presidential pet projects.
Some Senate Republicans proposed
billions of dollars for large agribusinesses and defense contractors, but not a
dime to help American families stay in their homes.
The Republican bill has a tax break
for three-martini lunches, but no food assistance for hungry kids.
There’s $2 billion for a new FBI
building whose location will increase the value of the Trump hotel, but no
funding to help state and local governments retain teachers, firefighters, bus
drivers and other public employees.
There’s no support for Medicaid, for
nursing homes or those with disabilities. The proposals to support our health
system and meet our testing needs are wildly insufficient.
And if you’re one of the 20-30
million of Americans who lost your job through no fault of your own and can’t
find work, Senate Republicans think you have it too good right now. You should
take a 30% pay cut, Republicans are saying.
This is not a serious proposal for a
country in the midst of a once-in-a-generation crisis. So as you can imagine,
when reviews started rolling in yesterday, they weren’t too positive.
One Senator said: “There are a
hundred problems with the plan.”
Another: “It’s a mess. I can’t figure
out what this bill is about.”
Another member of this chamber said:
“You look at the package that was rolled out by the Republican leadership and
it contains virtually nothing that will actually aid in the recovery.”
Those would be harsh criticisms if
they came from Democrats. But those quotes weren’t from Democrats, those were
Republican Senators talking about their own party’s plan. Two senior Republican
Senators have said that the Republican proposal would be lucky to get even half
of the Republican conference to vote for it.
Leader McConnell warned Democrats
against blocking the Republican proposal. It turns out that Senate Republicans
are blocking the Republican proposal.
So it’s abundantly clear that the
Senate Republican proposal for the next phase of COVID-relief is not a useful
starting point. You don’t have to take my word for it. Just ask President
Trump, who took the podium yesterday afternoon and called the Senate Republican
At this point, I’m beginning to
wonder who does support the Republican proposal on COVID-19.
So here’s where we are. We need to
turn the page on the Republican proposal, and quickly. The legislative train
wreck by Senate Republicans cannot derail our efforts to provide urgent,
comprehensive, and necessary relief to the American people.
Speaker Pelosi and I have started
negotiating with Chief of Staff Meadows and Secretary Mnuchin. We want to work
with our Republican colleagues and the White House on a bill that actually
meets the needs of the American people in these unprecedented times. But it’s
going to take good faith and compromise. We’re not hearing that from Leader
Leader McConnell, already IS drawing
lines in the sand, insisting yesterday than any agreement include his specific
corporate immunity provision.
No negotiation. Put this
provision—extreme provision—in the bill, without negotiation.
That sure doesn’t sound like someone
who wants to reach a bipartisan agreement. We’re going to need everyone to pull
together. We are going to need to focus on the needs of the American people.
With all due respect to the Republican leader, Americans on the brink of
eviction are not crying out for a sweeping corporate liability shield.
No one should be willing to torpedo
all the relief Americans are counting on unless there’s a giant corporate
Time is short. Speaker Pelosi and I
will be back at the negotiating table with the White House later today. It’s
time for our Republican colleagues to roll up their sleeves and get serious as
And one final point on this subject.
Again this morning, the Republican
leader continued his Alice-in-Wonderland interpretation of what has happened.
When what has happened is black, he says white. When what has happened is
white, he says black. He's the total opposite of the truth in what's happened.
He's suggested that Democrats might
be trying to block progress on COVID-relief because it might suit our party in
the election. That—we, Democrats—had decided to stop legislating until
November. I mean, shocking stuff.
Over ten weeks ago, Democrats—Democrats—passed
a bill three times the size of the Republican “proposal” that was more generous
and beneficial to the American people on nearly every measure. Leader McConnell
Senate Democrats spent the entire
month of June asking our Republican colleagues, including Leader McConnell, to
pass crucial legislation related to jobs, health care, and small businesses. We
went on the floor and made those requests. Republicans blocked nearly every
single one of those requests.
So this absurd and nasty insinuation
by the Republican Leader doesn’t pass the laugh test. The fact that Leader
McConnell would even consider the idea that a political party might deny
support for the American people in order to help win an election says more
about the Republican Leader than anybody else.
On another matter. Today, the Senate
will vote on two nominations to the NLRB, the National Labor Relation’s
Board—one nominee from the Republican side and another from the Democratic
side. On bipartisan boards and commissions like the NLRB, this used to be the
tradition. The president’s party always enjoys a majority on these boards, but
it’s crucial for the opposite party—whoever it is at the time—to have their
recommendations approved to these bipartisan boards.
Unfortunately, the vote today comes
after more than two years during which the Republican majority refused to even
schedule a vote on a Democratic nominee to the NLRB, Mark Pearce. The
Republicans waited so long that both Democratic nominees that were already on
the NLRB had their terms expire. So while Democrats look forward to confirming
Lauren McFerran to the NLRB later today, we are still
frustrated—frustrated—that the Republican majority denied any Democratic
representation on the board for too long and they continue to deny a vote on
the second Democratic seat.