Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor ahead of President Biden’s State of the Union address. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:
Tonight, President Biden will come to the U.S. Capitol and deliver the first State of the Union of his presidency.
Whenever the nation takes stock of the state of our Union, it is important to note where we are today compared to where we were a single year ago—that, indeed, is a revealing measure of any president’s leadership.
And despite the immense challenges we still have, what a difference between last year and this year.
At the beginning of last year, we were facing the very worst of the pandemic. Unemployment was over 6%. Most forecasters said it would take years—perhaps more—to make significant progress in our recovery.
And of course, as the Trump presidency came to a bitter and ignoble end, our country was still in shellshock from the violent assault waged upon this Capitol— and upon democracy itself.
Today, as we continue to face the serious challenges of our time, just look at how far we have come.
The economy has now grown at the fastest rate in a single year since the 1980s.
We have added back the most jobs back in a single year than in any president’s term ever. Six million jobs!
Congress passed—and the President signed—the biggest comprehensive, stand-alone infrastructure law in generations, which is now fixing our roads, bridges, supply chains, and putting people to work across the country with good paying jobs. Jobs have always been the number one issue to working families, and on that measure this first year has been a very, very large success.
And after years of President Trump currying favor with despots and autocrats, we all remember what he said about Vladimir Putin, over and over again, the world can now rest assured that the United States is once again a reliable ally in the defense of democracy and our alliances like NATO.
And of course, COVID cases are significantly dropping, communities are re-opening, mask mandates are reversing, and over 215 million Americans, 215 million, have now been fully vaccinated.
The road has not been easy and certainly the work is not yet done. The pain of inflation is being felt around the world, thanks, largely, to the disruptions of the pandemic.
The two greatest things vexing the American people are completing our recovery from COVID, and getting life back to normal and fighting increasing costs.
And Democrats in the Senate will keep our laser focus on precisely those issues, bringing down costs for the American people so we can reap the full benefits of our historic growth.
From relieving shipping bottlenecks, to making insulin more affordable, to lowering the costs of food: these are the some of the things Americans want and these are the issues that Democrats—right now—are working to help solve.
These problems must be handled, and Democrats and the Biden administration continue to work on them like a laser.
Again, full recovery from COVID and increasing costs are the two biggest remaining issues on our domestic calendar, and we are focused on them.
But even so, we cannot ignore that we have come far.
And let me say this: the State of the Union is also an important and rare moment for the American people to see what the party in office actually stands for.
It is under Democratic leadership that we will continue to work to lower costs, to fight inflation, give working families ladders of opportunity to get to the middle class, and thrive there once they are in the middle class.
Republicans can’t say that: crippled by Trump’s cult of personality, beholden to corporate interests and the ultra-rich, the Republican agenda would trap Americans in a vortex of deep cynicism, issues that would not solve today’s dilemmas, while they pass legislation that overwhelmingly would benefit the rich.
And if anyone doubts where the Republican Party stands today, all they have to do is read the bizarre, truly stunning plan released by the junior Senator from Florida last week, the head of the Republican Campaign Committee, which proposed everything from raising taxes on low income Americans to naming a useless and ineffective border wall after Donald Trump. Imagine.
We're talking about getting back to normal and recovering from COVID and reducing costs—and they're talking about naming a border wall after Donald Trump. Which party is going to solve America's problems?
Indeed: an analysis released yesterday by the Tax Policy Center found that low income households would pay an average of nearly $1,000 more in taxes next year under a plan like Senator Scott’s – and that nearly all of the new taxes under a plan like his would be paid by those making less than $100,000 a year.
Cut the taxes on the wealthy—as they did when Trump was president and think had the majority—and now increase taxes on poor people and working-class people: that seems to be where the Republicans are at.
This is just wrong, especially at a time when American families are looking for our help in lowering costs.
So tonight, the President will make clear that while we have a lot of work left to do, we’ve gotten a lot of work done already.
And the Democratic Senate will continue likewise to focus on legislation that completes our recovery from COVID and does everything we can to make sure it doesn't come back, to lower costs, strengthen our buoyant economy, and preserve America’s place as a nation of immense opportunity deep into the 21st century.