Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor on a productive week in the Senate, making progress on judicial nominees, rail safety, SAFE Banking, and PBM reform.
As Democrats here in the Senate work to continue to avoid default—the number one issue affecting our country—it has also been a very productive week in the Senate. So much has happened around the country over the past few days that it may have overshadowed just how busy things have been in the Senate this week and the kind of productive week that we have had on many important issues that affect the American people – very proud of what we were able to accomplish.
On the floor, with the return of Senator Feinstein, the Senate today advanced Bradley Garcia to serve as Circuit Court Judge for the D.C. Circuit, one of the most important federal courts in the country, and members should be ready to vote on confirmation come Monday. That is probably the second most important court in the country and we are appointing a very good person as Circuit Court Judge there.
Off the floor, the Judiciary Committee was busy as well. The Judiciary Committee just reported out six more judicial nominees for lifetime appointments to the federal bench. Judges were a top priority last Congress, and they remain a top priority in this Congress. We are hoping to move forward on many more judges.
Also yesterday, the Commerce Committee, under the able leadership of Maria Cantwell, also reported out the Railway Safety Act – sponsored by Senators Brown and Vance of Ohio – with bipartisan support. This is significant: after the derailment of East Palestine the need for rail safety reform became clear as day, and Americans are demanding that the Senate take action.
The Railway Safety Act is a major step forward for avoiding accidents similar to the one in East Palestine and improving rail safety across the country. It is going to make all our rail roads safer. We’ve all seen so many of these derailments, often because the rail roads were not doing what they were supposed to and this act is a big step forward in requiring them to do so.
I look forward to working with both sides to bring the Rail Safety Act to the floor.
And today, the Senate Banking Committee also held a hearing, a big step, on our bipartisan SAFE Banking Act that we have worked on together. SAFE Banking would ensure cannabis businesses have equal access to critical banking infrastructure in states that have legalized cannabis. We’ve all heard the tales of small businesses and even larger ones walking around with a huge amount of cash because they can’t do banking. SAFE Banking would change that and allow them to bank as other businesses because it is legal in many states. And I am working to ensure we include criminal justice provisions in SAFE Banking “plus,” most importantly the expungement of criminal records for certain low marijuana offenses.
We’ve made a lot of good, bipartisan progress on SAFE Banking last Congress, and after today’s hearing we hope there will be a markup on this bill in the near future. We’re really moving forward in a record way on a very important issue.
And finally, last but certainly not least, the HELP Committee also advanced PBM and generic drug pricing reform. It’ll reform the PBM system which we know is one of the reasons the costs of drugs are so high. And hopefully, with the reform, the cost of prescription drugs like insulin for non-Medicare Americans will come down. We reduced insulin to $35 for those on Medicare, but we need to work on reducing insulin costs for everybody and this bill is a major step forward in that direction.
So, it’s been a busy week, significant progress on many issues: judicial nominees, rail safety, SAFE Banking reform, PBM reform, which can lower insulin costs for millions of Americans. It’s been a good, strong week. And I thank my colleagues, on both sides of the aisle, for moving forward.