Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor in advance of the Senate’s overwhelming bipartisan vote to pass the National Defense Authorization Act. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks:
It’s been a long day but a very successful day. The NDAA is a prime example of both sides coming together, crafting a strong, bipartisan defense bill that will strengthen America’s national security, take care of our service members, and keep the United States the leader in innovation for years to come.
This was a bipartisan process through and through. I want to thank Chairman Reed and Ranking Member Wicker and all the members for their good work on this. And a bipartisan process is precisely what the American people are yearning for: in a fractured Congress, Democrats, Republicans coming together to provide something as critical as our national defense.
The NDAA – and the bipartisan process we went through to get here – should be a glimmer of hope for the American people, a sign that bipartisanship is alive and well in the Senate. But it’s not the only glimmer: we also came together to avert a first-ever default a few months ago, and we are currently making great progress on the appropriations bill, where almost miraculously under leadership of Senator Murray and Senator Collins, they have advanced all 12 bills out of committee with bipartisan support.
I hope what’s happened on this bill, the NDAA bill, and these other bills, can be a metaphor for future bills down the road.
These are two of our highest responsibilities – appropriations and national defense – and we made great progress in these last few months. It’s been a really good Senate that the American people can be proud of.
It was a good process on and off the floor – listen to this: 98 amendments. Talk about how we don’t do amendments? 98. 44 Democrat, 44 Republican, and the rest bipartisan.
And that’s what an NDAA bill should look like. A full floor process, with input and debate from both sides.
As a result, there are many critical provisions in this NDAA bill as well that we should be proud of.
We made critical down payments on our effort to outcompete the Chinese government by limiting the flow of investment and advanced technology to China.
We’re passing the first piece of legislation related to artificial intelligence, including important provisions to increase data sharing with the DOD and increase reporting on AI’s use in financial services.
And maybe most important to everyone here aware of this fentanyl crisis, we are boosting resources in a major way to tackle the fentanyl crisis by including the Fend Off Fentanyl Act. Senators Brown, Scott, and many others led to that legislation. This act gives the President more powers to stop any country – China, Mexico – from sending the precursor materials that are made into fentanyl to kill our children.
Together, all of these provisions provide a strong foundation for the safety and security of our country. One more point - it’s a stark contrast from the partisan race to the bottom we saw in the House.
House Republicans should look to the bipartisan Senate to see how to get things done.
We are passing important bipartisan legislation. They are throwing partisan legislation on the floor that has no chance of passing. The contrast is glaring, and if the House of Representatives would look how we’re working here in the Senate and emulate us a little more, they could be far more productive.
Now on a final note and a serious note, today is the final day for this page class. It’s been a busy session and the pages help make this place run smoothly. They are here when they need them and they have served this institution with grace.
However, I understand that late last night, a member of the House majority thought it appropriate to curse at some of these young people – these teenagers – in the Rotunda. I was shocked when I heard about it and I am further shocked at his refusal to apologize to these young people.
I can’t speak for the House of Representatives, but I do not think that one member’s disrespect is shared by this body, by Leader McConnell and myself. So, I would like to take a moment to thank these pages for their assistance these many weeks. We wish them well as they return to their homes and families.