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Majority Leader Schumer Floor Remarks On Actions Senate Democrats Are Taking This Week To Confirm President Biden’s Nominees And Help Lower Costs

Washington, D.C.   Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor on the Senate moving this week to confirm President Biden’s nominees and to help lower costs for the American people. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

Today the Senate gavels in for the start of a five-week work period, and there’s much that the American people want us—and need us—to work on in order to lower costs and improve their daily lives. That will be one of our primary focuses.

The Senate will also continue confirming President Biden’s administrative and judicial nominees.

Today we’ll vote to advance the nomination of Lael Brainard to be Vice Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. Ms. Brainard received bipartisan backing in the Banking Committee and I expect her to sail through this chamber with similar bipartisan support.

As soon as tomorrow, the Senate will also proceed on the nomination of Lisa Cook to sit on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors.

Coming from humble beginnings in rural Georgia—where her family fought racial segregation—Ms. Cook would make history as the first Black Woman ever to sit on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors.

Her qualifications are irrefutable: she’s a professor of economics at Michigan State, a member of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago Advisory Board, and served as a Senior Economist in President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors.

In short, Ms. Cook absolutely belongs on the Fed and I look forward to the Senate confirming her soon.

This week, the Senate will also confirm Alvaro Bedoya as a Commissioner on the Federal Trade Commission, breaking a 2-2 deadlock on the FTC that has lasted for over a year.

Mr. Bedoya’s confirmation is truly significant: if we want to lower costs, if we want to understand why the price of things like gasoline have surged, then it’s important to break the 2-2 deadlock at the FTC so it can fully examine these issues and execute its agenda.

Every time Americans go to the pump, they just know something truly rotten is going on with America’s energy sector. Last year the top 25 oil and gas companies reported $205 billion in profits. Earlier this month, Exxon Mobil alone reported its highest quarterly profits since 2008.

But has any of this translated into lower prices for Americans?

Has any of this gone to help resolve our energy challenges?

Has any of it gone to increasing worker productivity?

No, no and no.

Instead, soaring energy profits have fueled soaring stock buybacks. In the fourth quarter of last year, oil and gas companies’ stock buybacks rose by more than two thousand percent. Two thousand percent! 

They are making record profits, and what do the CEOs do? They artificially increase the value of their stock simply by buying some of it back. That's not why stocks should go up. Could they do something to reduce prices? Wouldn't that help America more? Could they do something to make their oil companies, their workers there better? No.

There is something deeply wrong, deeply wrong, about seeing the largest oil and gas companies in the world drench top executives and wealthy shareholders with cash while Americans are struggling at the pump.

That’s why we need a fully-functioning FTC as soon as possible, so it can look under the hood of America’s energy sector and determine if rising prices are in part rooted in shady conduct, and I believe they are. For that reason we must confirm Mr. Bedoya’s by the end of this week.

And I say to my Republican friends, if you are complaining about oil and gas prices, gasoline prices, one of the best things to do is have the FTC take a look and propose action and act.

On this very same note, Democrats are also discussing – and will consider – other potential action to beef up the FTC’s ability to crack down on potential gas price manipulation. We will have more to say on this as the week progresses.