Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the 100th day of the Biden presidency and the Senate Democratic majority following President Biden’s joint address to Congress. Senator Schumer also laid out what has been accomplished so far under the Biden administration and the Democratic majorities in Congress, and how the Senate will continue to build on this progress. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks which can also be viewed here:
Last night, before a joint session of Congress, President Biden laid out a comprehensive, thoughtful vision for the country.
First he spoke about what we’ve accomplished so far; and on that front, there was plenty to talk about. The Democratic majority in Congress passed the most sweeping federal recovery effort in a generation: the American Rescue Plan, accelerating the pace of vaccinations and our economic rebound. As a result, the United States has administered more than 200 million shots in less than 100 days. More than half of American adults have gotten at least one shot. And two-thirds of American seniors are vaccinated.
85% of all Americans have received a stimulus check of $1,400 through the American Rescue Plan. More than 160 million relief checks have been delivered.
Our economic recovery continues apace. The U.S. created more than 1 million jobs over the past three months, the most new jobs in a president’s first 100 days in American history.
And just this morning, we learned that jobless claims hit a new pandemic low, for the third straight week. Today's numbers are indication that our economy is back on track and should be going full throttle.
America is turning the corner. America is turning the corner. And over the first quarter, the American economy grew by 6.4%.
Under President Biden and Democratic majorities in Congress, America is turning the corner. 6.4% growth, wow. That shows you America is back and that shows you the kind of strong, active proposals that we Democrats have made are the right direction for the country, and have support throughout the country of Democrats, Independents, Republicans because it's the right thing to do.
The right thing to do.
The story of the first 100 days is a story about shots going into arms, checks going into pockets, life getting back to normal, and the economy picking up a lot of steam. After one of the most difficult years in history, we have made extraordinary progress.
President Biden spoke last night about how, and where, we can build on that strong foundation. We can't rest. We have a lot more to do. We want to keep this country going at a strong rate of growth, creating new jobs, making America healthier. We want to continue to do that.
We're not just going to stop with the A.R.P. We can't. And President Biden proposed commonsense investments and policies that will provide a pathway to success for working people and for America as a whole.
In particular, the president’s focus on jobs, middle-class incomes, and helping families and workers succeed in a 21st Century economy was very much welcomed. America is breathing a sigh of relief to see Joe Biden in that chair, and not the previous president who just all too often—even in those speeches where you're supposed to rise to the occasion—appealed to the worst instincts of people.
President Biden’s plan will help restore that once-innate American optimism that has really been shaken for the last four years. Now the Congress must act. And as Majority Leader, I intend for the Senate to take up legislation to make President Biden’s vision a reality.
Truthfully, a lot of what President Biden proposed last night should be bipartisan. Just because a Democratic president proposed a jobs and infrastructure plan doesn’t mean jobs and infrastructure are Democratic issues. Just because a Democratic president proposed a comprehensive plan to address child care and education and workforce training doesn’t mean those are just Democratic issues. My Republican colleagues, in one way or another, have joined Democrats on legislation in those subject areas for years.
President Biden spoke at length about the need to out-compete China. That’s something our two parties have long agreed on and a topic the Senate will address in the next work period.
Even on the very difficult subjects like police reform, gun safety, immigration, bipartisan compromise—strong bipartisan compromise, strong legislation coming out of bipartisan compromise—is never out of reach. Senator Murphy continues to discuss bipartisan safety measures with Senator Cornyn and others. Senators Booker and Durbin continue to discuss bipartisan policing reform with Senator Scott, Rep. Karen Bass, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee and many others.
Just this morning, I met with George Floyd’s brother, Eric Garner’s mother, and Mr. Ben Crump, the lawyer for the family of George Floyd— and I told them we are committed to getting meaningful, strong reform done, hopefully in a bipartisan way if we can.
Here on the Senate floor, we are proving that our two parties can work together on legislation, including on some of the issues that President Biden mentioned.
Today’s vote offers a great example. This afternoon, the Senate is going to vote on a bipartisan water infrastructure bill. We have agreed with the Republican minority to consider several amendments first, including three Republican amendments. I promised my caucus and the country that we would try to do things in a more open way, where amendments would be debated on the floor. We did that last week on the anti-Asian hate crimes legislation. We're doing it today on the water bill. And we hope to do it on the comprehensive America Competes Act when we come back next week.
So, the bottom line is very simple: we are moving forward, wherever we can in a bipartisan way. I expect the Senate will pass the water infrastructure bill with a resounding bipartisan vote after the amendments are debated.
So let it be a signal to our Republican colleagues that Senate Democrats want to work together on infrastructure, when and where we can.
Certainly the water bill is not the only example of bipartisan legislation this Congress. As I mentioned, a few weeks ago, nearly the entire Senate stood together to pass legislation to combat the recent surge in hate crimes, particularly against Americans of Asian descent, on a vote of 94-1.
And just yesterday, the Senate passed – with bipartisan support – a measure to reinstate critical rules to reduce the emissions of methane into our atmosphere. It was the first, significant action the Senate has taken to combat climate change in at least a decade, probably much more.
Even though our two parties have been divided in the past on the subject of climate change, we can no longer afford to have those differences foil our progress. The methane CRA must be the first, the first, of many steps we take to tackle climate change.
So these past few months have provided a great example of what the Senate can do. The American people deserve a Congress that works and produces the kinds of change that Americans are demanding. President Biden pointed the way. He pointed the way forward on a number of issues last night. Now it’s up to us, here in the Senate and in the Congress, to make progress for the American people a reality.