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Majority Leader Schumer Floor Remarks Calling For Bold Action On COVID Relief

Washington, D.C.   Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the importance of passing bold COVID relief for the American people. Leader Schumer said the Senate would begin consideration of a budget resolution as a potential first step towards passage of COVID relief legislation next week. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

Quickly, this chamber must consider additional relief for the American economy and the American people suffering from the prolonged effects of COVID-19.

Congress must pursue a bold and robust course of action to defeat the disease, recover our economy, get our country back to normal. Again: our country requires bold and robust action.

A trio of economic news items this week has underlined the glaring needs in the country.

First, the Federal Reserve issued a sobering warning yesterday that the pace of economic recovery is weakening and, as a result, they decided to leave interest rates low.

Second, the unemployment report this morning reminded us that jobless claims are still extremely high—at or near 1 million per week. That’s a lot larger than usual.

Third, and maybe most astoundingly, most strikingly, the Bureau of Economic Analysis this morning revealed that, last year, the economy shrank by 3.5% — the worst year for economic growth since WWII. And the first time our economy has contracted since the Great Recession.

Given these economic numbers, the need to act big and bold is urgent. Given the fact that the GDP sunk by 3.5% last year, we need recovery and rescue quickly.

Everywhere you look, alarm bells are ringing. Mortgage deferrals are increasing. Businesses are still closing. Schools are closed in many states. Restaurants and bars, travel, are in crisis.

Our new Secretary of Treasury, Janet Yellen—who was days ago confirmed with the support of eighty four members of this body and a large majority of our Republican colleagues—just told us that “with interest rates at historic lows, the smartest thing we can do is act big.”

That’s what Secretary Yellen said: “the smartest thing we can do is act big.”

Given these numbers, given the weakening state of the economy, only big, bold action is called for. To cut things dramatically, at a time when the economy needs a boost, would be irresponsible and hurt millions of people.

We are in the midst of a once-in-a-century crisis. It requires a once-in-a-century effort to overcome it.

The dangers of undershooting our response are far greater than overshooting it. We should have learned the lesson, from 2008 and 2009, when Congress was too timid and constrained in its response to the global financial crisis and it took years—years—for the economy to get out of recession. We must not repeat that same mistake today.

So the Senate, as early as next week, will begin the process of considering [a budget resolution, a potential first step to pursuing] a very strong COVID-relief bill.

Our preference is to make this important work bipartisan—to include input, ideas, and revisions from our Republican colleagues, or bipartisan efforts to do the same. But if our Republican colleagues decide to oppose this urgent and necessary legislation, we will have to move forward without them.                                            

We have a responsibility to help the American people, fast, particularly given these new economic numbers. The Senate will begin that work next week.