Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the need to move forward quickly with the American Rescue Plan, a bill that has received overwhelming public support from Democrats, Republicans, and moderates. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:
As early as tonight, the Senate will move to take up the American Rescue Plan, a bill designed to immediately deliver help to American families, workers, and businesses struggling under the weight of the pandemic and to lay the foundation for our nation’s recovery, so needed.
Every day, we see signs of hope and signs of caution in our fight against the COVID pandemic. As of today—in good part because the Biden Administration is really doing a good job—over 78 million doses of the COVID vaccine have been administered in the country and over 100 million have been shipped, well ahead of the rosiest expectations at the start of the year. And just yesterday, President Biden announced that there will be enough vaccines for every adult in the United States by the end of May. By the end of May, far sooner than most had thought. And again, President Biden and his team are doing a great job in moving the vaccine out quickly, but fairly.
Still, the United States averages 66,000 cases of COVID-19 per week. That exceeds anything we saw last summer, during the worst months of the spread, so we cannot relax and the need for the legislation that is before us is stronger than ever before.
It’s a similar story
with the economy. There are green shoots, but unemployment is still over 6% and
9% for African Americans. The economy has lost ten million jobs compared to a
year ago. Tens of millions of Americans report being thousands of dollars behind
in rent and utilities. And as Treasury Secretary Yellen and Federal Reserve
Chair Powell have repeatedly warned us our economy and its recovery remain
There are bumps—but mainly because of the stimulus bills we have done.
We did a bill in March, and the May and June numbers looked pretty good—but then sunk again over the summer and fall.
We did a bill in December, and the January numbers looked pretty good—but that is not evidence that the economy is able to sustain things on its own. That is evidence that the federal government needs to continue its role to get us back on track.
We have come a long way, but we have a long way to go. The American Rescue Plan is designed to build on our early progress and finish the job. To help our country get through the final months of the crisis and then, equally important, bring our economy roaring back.
We cannot go through the situation we did back in 2009 where the stimulus wasn’t strong enough and we stayed in recession for years. So, just because the numbers are not as bad as they were doesn’t mean that we don’t need a continued strong push to get us out of this ditch and go upward and forward.
We had always hoped that this very important work would be bipartisan. Regrettably, it seems that too many of our Republican colleagues are resorting to the same, predictable objections they raise about nearly every proposal supported by a Democrat. It almost doesn’t matter what’s in the bill, everything my colleagues oppose is “a liberal wish list.” That’s what many of them call it.
Well let me tell you, this bill is not a liberal wish list. This is an American wish list.
When people want checks to help them get out of the morass, that’s not a liberal wish list—that’s what the American people want. It’s an American wish list. When people want resources to open schools quickly and safely, that’s not a liberal wish list—that’s an American wish list.
When people want assistance for the hardest-hit small businesses, that’s not a liberal wish list—that’s an American wish list.
Funding to keep teachers, firefighters, transit workers, first respondents—in red states and blue—on the job. Not a liberal wish list. That’s an American wish list.
So many of the people affected by this bill are not liberals or Democrats. They may be Republicans. They may be independents. They may be conservatives. But, they are all Americans who want some help to get out of this morass.
And money to expand the testing and speed of the distribution of the vaccine, the cornerstone of ending this crisis once and for all. That’s not a liberal wish list. That’s an American wish list. Everyone wants the vaccine out there.
And direct checks, as I mentioned, as promised to Americans struggling to keep up with expenses, to buy their groceries, the medicine, to pay the rent and utilities. That’s not a liberal wish list. That’s an American wish list. And I’d ask my Republican colleagues to go ask their constituents which of these things their constituents oppose. None, that’s what the data shows.
The American Rescue Plan will be the single largest, anti-poverty bill in recent history; with crucial assistance for American families struggling with the cost of child care, and it will give tax breaks for low-income workers, so when they work hard, they can afford the necessities of life.
So these things are, the liberal wish list Republicans are talking about—support for schools, and jobs, and families, and workers, and the vaccine? No way.
Ironically, the liberal wish list includes a whole bunch of bipartisan amendments that were accepted: including provisions to help restaurants, sponsored by Senators Sinema and Wicker, a vaccine public awareness programs sponsored by Senators Cardin and Portman.
Make no mistake—make no mistake—the American Rescue Plan is a very, very strong bill that will move our country forward in amazing ways.
So it should come as no surprise that support of the American Rescue Plan is coming from all over the country.
Hundreds of business leaders, not the most liberal bunch, have urged Congress to pass this bill.
More than 435 mayors and state leaders, Democrats and Republicans, have said the same. They want the bill. As one Republican mayor from Michigan put it: “The need is real, and not just in Democratic communities.” He went on to tell his fellow Republicans in Washington who oppose the bill to “Talk to some of the Republican mayors.”
Talk to some of the Republican mayors.
But if my Republican colleagues here in the Senate don’t want to listen to the words of their fellow Republican mayors and governors, they can look at the polls, which show that the vast majority of Americans, including a majority of Republicans, support this bill. It seems like the only people who are dead-set against this bill are Republican senators. Not Republicans out in the country, not Republican mayors, not Republican business people, not Republican small businesses.
I guess all of this should be expected. COVID-19 is not a red state or a blue state crisis. Our Republican friends should know that. It is not a Democrat or Republican concern. They should know that, too. COVID-19 is a menace to all of us, and we should be banding together to fight it. The economic crisis has affected all of us. And the plan that we are going to vote on this week is going to provide real, robust, relief for all of us.
Whatever our Republican colleagues decide to do, the Senate majority is intent on going forward helping to the American people with bold action, quickly.