Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the critical committee markups of S.1, the For the People Act, and the Endless Frontier Act. Senator Schumer also laid out plans to continue the Senate’s work to confirm President Biden’s well-qualified nominees. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks which can also be viewed here:
The last time we observed Mother’s Day, most of the country could not spend time with their parents or have their kids spend time with them. Standing outside of a window and waving to Mom was the closest you could get. I remember that.
So this year, I was beyond grateful to celebrate with my mother and my daughters in person. I know the same was true for Americans across the country as COVID-19 continues to recede, and more than half of eligible adults have received at least one shot of the vaccine. After a very painful and difficult year, it was another sign that our country is turning the corner, praise God.
Now, as we begin this work period, the Senate will continue working to help the country recover and build back stronger than ever.
That includes filling vacancies in the executive branch with highly qualified public servants. This week, the Senate will consider the nomination of Andrea Palm for the Deputy HHS Secretary and Cynthia Marten—a teacher of 17 years—to serve as the next Deputy Education Secretary.
There will be additional nominations on the floor as the week goes on. And at the committee level, at least half a dozen other nominees will have their markups.
And there will be plenty of legislative action off the floor as well. Discussions continue on a potential bipartisan infrastructure bill, gun safety legislation, and policing reform.
On Wednesday, the Senate Commerce Committee will begin to mark-up the Endless Frontier Act, bipartisan legislation that would invest in our scientific and technologic capabilities and help the United States out-compete China and other nations in a number of emerging industries. There have been extremely constructive bipartisan talks over the last week, and I am fully supportive of the product that will be considered in Wednesday’s committee meeting.
In addition, a number of other Senate committees are working on bipartisan legislation to improve our competitiveness and make the United States a world leader in advanced manufacturing, innovation, and supply chains. It is my intention to have the full Senate consider comprehensive competitiveness legislation during this work period.
This week, the Senate Rules Committee will also mark-up S.1, a bill to strengthen our democracy, increase transparency in our campaign finance system, and make it easier for all Americans to vote. The Senate Democratic majority named this bill “S.1” because it is a top priority. The majority gets to name the first five bills of any new Congress. We picked the For the People Act to be S.1 for a reason.
Make no mistake: we are moving forward with S.1 in the Rules Committee this week. I will attend the mark-up tomorrow. And as a reminder to my colleagues: I have committed to bring S.1 to the floor of the Senate.
As the Rules Committee prepares to amend and advance S.1, our Republican colleagues face a critical choice: between working with Democrats in good faith to pass a law to protect our democracy or siding with Republican state legislatures that are orchestrating the largest contraction of voting rights in decades.
There is no reason our two parties can’t work together on S.1. In fact, the legislation has already been updated and improved. It now includes input from election officials across the country, including Republican election officials. I am sure we will see additional amendments at the mark-up tomorrow.
For example, I understand my colleague from Georgia, Senator Ossoff, will offer an amendment to ban states from restricting volunteers from giving food and water to Americans waiting in line to vote.
You would think such a provision would be unnecessary. But sadly, giving voters food or water while they’re waiting in long lines has just been criminalized – criminalized – by the state of Georgia.
Look, we know our Republican colleagues don’t like every aspect of S.1. But will they work in good faith to improve it? Will they offer revisions or new ideas to protect voting rights? Or, through uncompromising resistance to commonsense voter protections, will they side with Republican legislatures across the country that are restricting the voting rights in a way that hurts African Americans, Latinos, and younger and poorer Americans?
The choice is theirs.
And two final points on this. Number one: Donald Trump spread the big lie. We all know it's a big lie that there was massive fraud in the elections. And instead of resisting that lie—so harmful to our democracy, because when people don't have faith in the electoral process it withers faith in our very democracy—so many Republicans in state legislatures and here in the Senate, unfortunately, are spreading that lie.
And second, what has been the tradition of America? It's been to improve the right to vote. At the time of the Constitution, in many states, you had to be a white male protestant property owner to vote. We've improved that. We have improved on that beginning in many different ways through the years. What the Republican legislatures are taking is a giant setback, a giant step back in the progress we have made to making this a more perfect union.
Will the Republican Senate in the Rules Committee tomorrow and later on the floor of the Senate when they bring the bill forward participate in improving our democracy or in helping, aiding and abetting the big lie and the giant step backward?