Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the urgent need for additional COVID relief legislation. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:
In addition to the confirmation of critical cabinet nominees, the Senate will soon move forward with legislation to address the twin crises facing our country: the public health crisis and the economic crisis.
In December, Congress took the important step of passing interim, emergency relief to the country, but we left the job unfinished.
I understand that recent opposition from the political right to more spending has increased in volume now that there’s a Democrat in the White House. But the pandemic doesn’t particularly care that there has been a change in the Administration. The needs of our country are still great. And the urgency to act is clearer than ever.
The Congressional Budget Office told us last fall that the COVID-19 pandemic had taken more than $17 trillion out of our economy. $17 trillion. No doubt Congress has passed substantial relief, but looking at the data, we are nowhere close to filling the COVID-sized hole in our economy.
Expanded unemployment insurance will once again expire in March. State and local governments—which have already cut over a million jobs—are still reeling from budget deficits and have not received direct assistance. The amount of direct payments to the American people in the previous bill was regrettably much lower than many of us, including myself, wanted. We must continue supporting the rapid and massive distribution of the vaccine to finally crush this virus once and for all.
So the Senate is going to press forward on another COVID-relief bill.
We want to work with our Republican colleagues to advance this legislation in a bipartisan way, but the work must move forward – preferably with our Republican colleagues, but without them if we must.
We are still in the midst of a once-in-a-century crisis that has reshaped our economy and altered nearly every aspect of American life. Americans are still getting sick. Americans are still dying. Americans are still losing their jobs. We must not suffer timidity or delay. There is a great urgency to continue the work of COVID relief, and that’s exactly what this Senate will do.