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Majority Leader Schumer Floor Remarks On The Election Of Senate Democratic Caucus Leadership For The 118th Congress

Washington, D.C.   Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor on the Democratic Caucus leadership and the focus of the party for the next Congress. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks:

Earlier this morning, the Senate Democratic Caucus held elections to determine party leadership for the 118th Congress. With gratitude and humility, I am happy to say I have been unanimously elected once again as the Democratic Leader.

I want to thank every member of my caucus for entrusting me with this awesome responsibility. My admiration and affection for every member of my caucus is really limitless. They're my friends, my compadres, my companions. We work together. We're an amazing unit, with only 50 votes ranging, of course, from Joe Manchin to Bernie Sanders, we have compiled one of the greatest legislative sessions in this century, and even the last one, in what we have done.

And we will continue to try to do great things for our country, in the next two years.  

I also wish to congratulate and thank my colleagues who form our Caucus’s leadership, especially Senator Schatz for becoming its newest member. I also want to thank Senator Murray for her incredible work as Assistant Democratic Leader in the 117th Congress, and congratulate her on becoming President Pro Tem-designate, succeeding Senator Leahy who will soon retire.

I also wish to thank my staff, they are the greatest, they are just the greatest. They have advised me and guided me over the last two years and helped me prepare for the Congress to come. I would not want to go through a 50-50 Senate with anyone but them. They are remarkable, hardworking, brilliant and just fine human beings as well, who really care. It's been such a privilege, honor, and joy to work with them.

We must now look to the future. Our focus in the Congress to come shall be no different from our focus in the Congress that concludes: getting things done for the American people. We want to keep this chamber active, alive, and busy as much as possible.

I make a clarion call to my Republican colleagues: reject MAGA and work with us in the years to come. We’ve made huge strides in this Congress and I hope we can build on that, because the problems of our country are many and run deep. When Americans saw us working on real issues this year, they responded positively and trusted this majority with two more years at the helm.

Now, it’s clear that many on the other side of the aisle, our Republican friends, are unhappy with the way their party has been doing business. Some of the Republicans want to pull the party even more in a MAGA direction. That is a recipe for disaster, for their party and the country. But there are many others who know driving down the MAGA road is like following Thelma & Louise off the cliff. We very much want to work with that group that understands that we've got to get things done in a bipartisan way. And just railing and shrieking and decrying – with no solutions and pure anger – ain't the way to go. It's not the way the American people want us to go.

So, I urge my non-MAGA Republican colleagues to reject extremism, reject MAGA, embrace bipartisanship. Don’t just block bills next Congress for the sake of gridlock; let us come to the table and find ways to move forward together.

Our differences run deep, our disagreements are frequent, but that does not diminish the importance of working alongside one another when necessary to improve the lives of the American people.

I have no doubt that if we give it a good faith effort, we can be successful – successful beyond what anyone would think right now. To the skeptics and the naysayers, all I have to say, when you say we can’t do this, I said look at the record of the last 2 years.

In a 50-50 Senate, both sides found ways to pass the most ambitious legislative agenda, as I mentioned before, in a very long time, one of the most ambitious in decades and decades.

We got infrastructure done. We reformed the Post Office, we reauthorized VAWA, we ended forced arbitration for sexual harassment, we passed anti-lynching legislation, helped our shipping supply chains.

After the shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde, we defied the NRA and passed the first major gun safety bill in over 30 years.

Together we approved the CHIPS and Science Act, passed the PACT Act, ratified the accession of Finland and Sweden into NATO, and stood with our friends in Ukraine. And a few weeks ago, we came together to pass Respect for Marriage, which the House is set to approve today.

Of course, when we do not agree, Democrats will go at it alone, as we did for the Inflation Reduction Act. I know both parties fiercely disagree on the role of government in tackling these problems, such as environment and prescription drug costs, but even then I hope the other side would agree that lowering costs for seniors, lowering energy costs for families, and finding ways to preserve the planet are worthy causes that merit the attention of responsible legislators.

So let me say it again: I urge my Republican colleagues who are tired of MAGA, who know it is a formula for disaster, who know that it is, while embraced fiercely by a small group of extremists, is not where the majority of Americans or even where the majority of Republicans want to go. We have been reminded again and again that the extreme MAGA agenda is not only toxic but dangerous to our democracy. And it condones – sometimes lays right in bed with – those who urge violence to hurt America and destroy our democracy. But thank God the American people have rejected that. If there’s any lesson to derive from the midterms, that is certainly one of them. The American people don't like MAGA. They don't like hard right nastiness. They don't like threats to democracy.

Look, I know that the other side will not rid itself of MAGA overnight—and unfortunately, some on the other side are hell-bent on doubling down on MAGA—but for the sake of the country, and for the sake of the future of the Republican party, we need to find ways to work together.

To borrow a quote attributed to Sam Rayburn, anyone can kick a barn down, but it takes a good carpenter to build one back up. He supposedly used slightly more colorful language; I won’t repeat that here, but you get the point.

I hope that good carpenters exist on both sides, because there’s still a lot of rebuilding to do across this country and new building, new frontiers to launch bravely towards. As Majority Leader, I will do my best to find opportunities for both sides to work together.

So, let us move forward together with fearlessness, with clarity of purpose, and with a ceaseless hunger to reward the trust that Americans have placed in all of us. I thank my Democratic colleagues for the trust they have placed in me, I congratulate every single member of the leadership, and now let’s roll up our sleeves and get back to work.