Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor on the Democratic agenda ahead of President Biden attending Senate Democrats’ special caucus lunch. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:
Later today, Senate Democrats will welcome President Biden to the Capitol for a special caucus lunch to talk about our agenda for the 118th Congress.
I predict that today’s conversation will re-emphasize a couple of important points: unlike the other party, Democrats are united, we have a great story to tell about our work over the last two years, and we are ready to keep working in a bipartisan way to make life better for the American people.
If the last two years focused on getting our agenda passed into law, one of the focuses of our lunch will be on how the next two years will be about implementing that agenda. Legislation must and will continue, but implementation will also be a top priority.
Democrats are making sure that Americans see our agenda—see our agenda in their own backyards, on their way to work, and when they balance their checkbooks.
Americans will see our agenda as the roads, and bridges, and highways they use every day finally get the fixes that are so needed.
And Americans will see our agenda in action as manufacturing, good-paying manufacturing jobs, high-end jobs, returns to our shore
s, as new innovations get developed here at home.
We’ll also talk with President Biden about one of the most important priorities that defines our party: building ladders to help people get into the middle class, and helping people who are already in the middle class stay there.
We’ll continue protecting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid from the hard right. We will keep investing in infrastructure jobs and good-paying union jobs. And we will hold abusive corporations accountable for putting profits over people’s safety.
We’re also going to make sure that once people make it into the middle class, they have the tools to stay in the middle class.
That’s precisely the reasoning behind our work on IRA, on Chips and Science, on pushing for student debt relief and increasing Pell Grants, and so much more.
I expect we will also discuss how we’ll keep Americans safe and keep democracy alive in the twenty first century. One year into Putin’s violent assault on Ukraine, the support for Ukraine will hold firm. And that, praise God, has been very bipartisan. Leader McConnell and I are united in that regard.
So we will focus on taking an all-of-the-above approach to outcompete President Xi and the Chinese Communist Party. CHIPS was an important step in the right direction, but we cannot relent. The administration has already taken a few executive actions that will increase our ability to bring jobs back here and prevent the Chinese from taking our intellectual property, but we certainly cannot rest on our laurels.
Finally, very importantly, we are going to talk about how Democrats will preserve our unity in the months ahead. The story here in congress over the first few months of 2023 has been one of contrasts: Democrats are united on helping average Americans, while Republicans are divided, paralyzed by chaos, and so many of them doing the bidding of the ultra-rich and the very well-connected and powerful.
Republicans like to talk about standing up for average folks and fighting wokeism—whatever that means—but look at what they’ve actually done this year. They’ve given cover to wealthy tax cheats, escalated their war on women, even tried to push a national sales tax that would raise taxes significantly—up to 30%—for average families. How the heck is an average family going to pay 30% more for everything they buy? What planet are these folks on?
Nowhere else is the contrast between Democrats and Republicans more glaring than when it comes to raising the debt ceiling.
President Biden and Senate and House Democrats have been clear, from the very beginning, that we are united on what our plan is: both sides must come together and raise the debt ceiling without engaging in hostage taking, brinkmanship, or political blackmail.
Speaker McCarthy, however, is unable to unite his Conference or explain what exactly the Republican plan is. The hard right is demanding that we agree to spending cuts in exchange for their votes, but to this day there is no consensus and no clarity about what cuts Republicans want.
Speaker McCarthy, it is March 2nd. Where is your plan? It's March 2nd, Leader McCarthy. You've been talking about a plan for a while. Where is it? Where is your plan?
You say Social Security and Medicare is off the table. But until the American people see a plan, they cannot just take the Speaker at his word that Social Security and Medicare will be safe, because so many on his right flank—so many mainstream Republican members even—have long pushed to have these programs changed.
And there is more Americans have to worry about—what is the Republican plan on Medicaid? Or funding for police? On Pell Grants? On Defense? On food for kids? Will all these things get cut in their plan?
Again, this goes back to the central problem with the Republican House Majority—it will be exceedingly difficult, and in all likelihood impossible, for them to unite around a plan that they can pass with their 220 some-odd votes and that the American people will accept and like.
This contrast is going to keep growing and growing in the months ahead. During today’s lunch, we’ll talk with the President about how we can make sure Americans see and understand the contrast.
I thank President Biden for his time, and I very much look forward to having him here at the our Capitol.