Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the need to pass budget resolution, which the Senate will vote on later in this legislative day, and then taking the next step in passing the rescue plan to lift the country out of the health and economic crisis caused by COVID-19. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:
One year ago, the United States reported eleven confirmed cases of COVID-19. A few days later, a woman from California became the first American to die from this disease. Today, those numbers stand at over twenty six million Americans infected—and over 450,000 Americans dead. Along the way, COVID-19 has turned life as we know it upside down. It triggered the greatest economic emergency since the Great Depression: tens of millions of lost jobs, shuttered schools, collapsed businesses and the greatest health care crisis since the Spanish flu pandemic.
Congress has come together on several occasions to pass important relief measures—measures that did a lot of good; they saved jobs and lives and businesses. But it has not yet been enough. The crisis is still with us, the economy is weakened, everyday Americans are struggling with the basic costs of living, of necessities.
So today, the Senate is going to take the next, strong step forward in passing a rescue plan to lift the country out of the crisis, and set it back on the path to normal.
Starting this afternoon, we begin the process of debating amendments to the Budget Resolution. When that process is complete, at whatever hour, we’ll vote on final passage and pave the way for Senate committees to begin crafting the rescue plan itself, in coordination with House committees as well.
The amendment process here today will be bipartisan and it will be open and it will be vigorous. Democrats and Republicans alike will have the opportunity to share their ideas, and we welcome that.
Of course, what amendments our friends in the minority propose is entirely up to them.
Now, The Republican Leader hinted yesterday that his conference is preparing several “messaging” amendments that they hope might score political points. That’s fine. That’s their right. But I sincerely hope our Republican colleagues approach our work today with the intention of having serious ideas considered, not using the debate over pandemic relief to sharpen ephemeral partisan talking points. This should be a very serious debate, a much-needed debate. We're in one of the greatest crises America has ever faced.
If there are good-faith amendments from the other side, we look forward to them. What we cannot do, however, is think small in the face of big problems. We cannot repeat the mistakes of the past. We cannot do too little. We cannot lock our country into a long and slow recovery.
We must, instead, respond to the urgent needs in our country and chart a bold path back to normal.
We must make sure our country and its citizens have the resources to survive the remaining months of challenge; that struggling businesses can access loans and grants; that state and local governments, and yes, tribal governments, are not forced to cut essential services and millions of essential employees; and that our doctors and medical workers can administer the vaccine as quickly and as widely as possible.
That’s how we get back to normal, that’s how we survive the months in between until we get back to normal. And that’s what this budget resolution, and the Rescue Plan, is all about.