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Majority Leader Schumer Floor Remarks On The Need To Act Big On The Coronavirus Pandemic And Filing A Budget Resolution, The First Step In Giving Congress An Additional Legislative Tool To Quickly Pass COVID Relief

Washington, D.C.   Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the need to act big to provide the relief the American people need from the coronavirus economic and public health crisis. Today, Majority Leader Schumer and Speaker Pelosi filed a budget resolution, which will provide the legislative tools necessary to pass bold COVID-relief legislation. Senator Schumer pointed out that this same process has been used to make law on a bipartisan basis many times in recent years and stressed that serious COVID relief, too, should be the work of both Democrats and Republicans. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

The Senate this week will also begin the important work of crafting legislation to rescue the American people and the American economy from the continued effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

We continue to face a crisis unlike any other in our lifetimes. Over the course of a year, more than 26 million Americans contracted the virus, and nearly 450,000 have died—more than the number of Americans who died during WWII.

Tens of millions of Americans have lost their jobs, thousands of businesses closed their doors for good, and the economy suffered the worst year of growth—again—since WWII.

Our efforts here in Congress over the past year have saved scores of small businesses and kept millions of Americans in their homes and out of poverty. But our work is far from complete. 

As we speak, nearly 1 million Americans are filing for unemployment—per week. More than 16 million Americans have reported being thousands of dollars behind on the rent, on mortgage, and on utilities. Elderly Americans are having the heat shut off in the depths of winter. Families are having the power, and internet, shut off during their children’s first year of (virtual) kindergarten. The small businesses we’ve done so much to help through the PPP and other bipartisan programs will struggle until we can vaccinate enough Americans to get the country back to normal.

Facing these multifaceted challenges—of a scale and scope larger than any event in the past 100 years—Congress must pursue a bold and robust course of action. It makes no sense to pinch pennies when so many Americans are struggling.

The risk of doing too little is far greater than the risk of doing too much.

Our history is full of warnings about the cost of small thinking during times of great challenge. President Hoover failed to react quickly enough to forestall a Great Depression. In the wake of our most recent financial crisis of 2009, Congress was too timid and constrained, and the ensuing recovery was long, slow, and painful.

Treasury Secretary Yellen, who watched the most recent recovery up close, just told us that “the smartest thing we can do is act big.” 

Let me repeat that: “the smartest thing we can do is act big,” according to Treasury Secretary Yellen.

So that is what this Senate is going to do: act big.

Today, Speaker Pelosi and I will file a joint budget resolution for the Fiscal Year 2021—totaling $1.9 trillion—which is the first step in giving Congress an additional legislative tool to quickly pass COVID relief legislation.

The resolution—if passed by both chambers of Congress—will provide instructions for the House and Senate committees to begin work on a potential budget reconciliation bill, which will be the vehicle for urgent and necessary COVID relief.

Now I want to be very clear: there is nothing in this process that will preclude it from being bipartisan. We welcome—welcome—Republican input. Let me say that again: there is nothing in this process – the budget resolution or reconciliation – that precludes our work from being bipartisan.

In fact, the Senate has used this process no fewer than 17 times to pass bipartisan legislation since 1980, including to create or expand landmark programs like Children’s Health Insurance, the Child Tax Credit, and the Earned Income Tax Credit, which together have lifted millions of Americans out of poverty.

COVID relief, too, should be the work of both Democrats and Republicans.

Teachers and firefighters are being laid off in red states and blue states. American families are struggling with the rent and utilities in Kentucky as well as in New York. We should all be eager to provide our country the resources it needs to finally beat this disease and return our country to normal. To that end, Democrats welcome the ideas and input of our Senate Republican colleagues.

The only thing we cannot accept is a package that is too small or too narrow to pull our country out of this emergency. We cannot repeat the mistake of 2009. And we must act very soon to get this assistance to those so desperately in need.