Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor on Senate Republicans blocking President Biden’s supplemental national security package and the need to find a bipartisan solution to support Israel, Ukraine, the Indo-Pacific, and provide humanitarian aid for innocent civilians in Gaza. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:
Last night was a sad moment for the Senate, for the country, and for our friends in Ukraine and Israel and around the world.
With our values and democracy on the line, Senate Republicans killed a much-needed bill with funding for Ukraine, for Israel, humanitarian aid for the people of Gaza, and for the Indo-Pacific.
If there is a word for what we need now most, it is to be serious. Republicans need to be serious and stop game playing.
It’s absurd we are even in this situation to begin with. Let me retrace the steps that got us here and then how we can get out and get something done.
First, we all know how important Ukraine aid is. Both sides have long claimed to support it. To quote a recent speech from my friend the Republican Leader, Leader McConnell: “helping a democratic partner…against an unprovoked attack from a common enemy is obviously in America’s interest.”
In another speech here on the floor, Leader McConnell added that: “now…is not the time to ease up” on helping Ukraine defending their sovereignty. Interestingly, he didn’t mention anything about the southern border that day.
Second, it was Republicans who threw an unnecessary wrench into Ukraine funding by tying it to the extraneous issue of the border.
We all agree that border security is important. President Biden included strong border provisions in the proposal he sent us.
But we also know it’s a complicated issue – very complex – that’s escaped bipartisan solution for years. I’m certainly willing to have that difficult conversation: I was a leader of the Gang of Eight that produced the last real border compromise a decade ago. But it’s not realistic for Republicans to suddenly hold up Ukraine aid – which they claim to support – and then suddenly demand that we take up border, which has been a problem for years, and then solve it in a matter of days.
Nevertheless, we Democrats were willing to give it a try, and that’s my third point. For three weeks, Democrats have sat down at the negotiating table with our Republican counterparts to see if something on the border was possible. We talked for three weeks, and actually, negotiations ended up moving backward after Speaker Johnson said the only thing his Republican caucus would accept was Donald Trump’s extreme border policies as embodied in H.R. 2. So, Democrats tried to negotiate in good faith, but after the Speaker pushed H.R. 2, talks remained at an impasse.
Fourth, to work our way out of this morass, we Democrats offered our Republican colleagues a golden opportunity: an offer for a vote on an amendment on any border policy of their choosing, and all they would have had needed for it to pass were eleven Democratic votes. They rejected our offer.
I must say, it defies credulity for Republicans to demand border, hold up Ukraine because of border, then reject an offer to vote on a border amendment of their own crafting here on the floor. It may well be Republicans can’t even agree among themselves on a proposal. Either way, they rejected our offer, voted down the bill.
So, where are we now that that has happened yesterday? Well, we are left with only two paths forward to break the logjam: either Republicans can take us up on an amendment offer or we can restart negotiations. Now, if we are going to negotiate, it has to be in good faith. Republicans need to show they are serious about reaching a compromise, not just throwing on the floor basically Donald Trump’s border policies.
Again: Republicans need to be serious and stop the game-playing. They’ve been game-playing when they pushed Donald Trump’s radical border policies, when they said border is the ransom they want, and when they moved the goal posts during negotiations.
We need to stop playing around and get serious about the immense challenge in front of us. Both sides must accept that we have to compromise on things important to each side if we have any hope of passing this supplemental. Let me state, we Democrats very much – very much – want an agreement. We are willing to make compromises and concessions to meet our Republican colleagues, as long as they are willing to do the same.
Let me conclude again with how important this is, and with the warning that the Republican Leader issued in recent months: that if we aren’t willing to invest in the defense of democracy right now, we’re going to be forced to pay a much higher price down the line.
Better to defend democracy with American resources today, than with American lives tomorrow. That is the danger of allowing brutes like Vladimir Putin to win the day.
So, the time is now for us to show the world we’re willing to defend democracy in its hour of need. Democrats are serious about reaching a reasonable, bipartisan compromise to pass this security package. The question is if Republicans are now willing to do the same.