Washington, D.C. –Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the urgent need to pass the American Rescue Plan to support American families through the ongoing coronavirus economic and public health crisis, help them recover from the economic hardship of the past year, and to set our country on a firm path to recovery. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:
Even as we continue to confirm President Biden’s nominees here on the floor, the Senate Democratic majority is busy working on the American Rescue Plan.
The country has just suffered from a once-in-a-century event that shuttered thousands of businesses, sapped more than 10 million jobs, and, according to the CBO, left a $17 trillion hole in our economy.
As the distribution of the vaccine finally begins to accelerate under the Biden Administration, there is certainly hope on the horizon. But we are a far way off from a full recovery and it is our job—our job—to help millions of struggling Americans through the next several months of difficulty, and hasten the day when our country can finally return to normal.
The American Rescue Plan is designed to do just that—keep American families, and businesses, and schools, and workers afloat until they can get back on their feet.
There is a broad consensus that our country needs more support to get through this crisis. Mayors and governors from both parties support the plan. The Republican Governor of West Virginia told Congress: “we need to go big.”
Economists from across the political spectrum say that our economy needs further support. The Chair of the Federal Reserve, appointed by President Trump, just told us that “the economic recovery remains uneven and far from complete, and the path ahead is highly uncertain.” Chairman Powell, hardly a raving liberal, concluded: “there is a long way to go.”
And [this] has broad support in America: 7 in 10 Americans approve of the American Rescue Plan. In some polls I have seen, a majority of Republicans approve of this plan—Republican voters, not Republicans here in the Senate.
Now, it is easy to see why there is such broad support. The COVID pandemic is the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression; the worst public health crisis our nation has faced in a hundred years. But our Republican colleagues say all these groups demanding the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan–business leaders; government officials from both parties; economists from across the political spectrum; and seven in ten Americans—Republicans say all of them are wrong.
According to a report in CNN, Republican leaders are “maneuvering” to get every single Republican member to oppose the emerging legislation. Every single one!
Make no mistake: Republicans oppose the American Rescue Plan to the detriment of the country and they do so at their own political peril.
If our Republican colleagues want to oppose direct checks to struggling families; food assistance to hungry Americans; keeping teachers, firefighters, and essential public employees on the job; providing another round of support for small business; helping schools re-open as quickly and safely as possible; speeding vaccinations around the country – well, if Congressional Republicans want to oppose all that, my response is: good luck.
The country needs this final push. It is overwhelmingly popular. A new analysis this morning showed another vaccine produced by a U.S. company is safe and effective, which only underscores the need for federal dollars to accelerate its distribution.
The American Rescue Plan will help millions of American families survive the ongoing crisis, recuperate from the economic hardship of the past year, and set our country on a firm path to recovery.
That’s why Senate Democrats have made it the first legislative item on our agenda. By stark contrast, the first action item taken by the Republican Senate majority, when they got the majority in 2017, was an attempt to repeal our nation’s health care law and rip health coverage away from millions of Americans. Republicans followed it up with a giant tax cut, disproportionally aimed at big corporations and the uber-rich.
The Democratic Senate majority is going to start on a much different note. This week, the House—and soon thereafter the Senate—will start working on President Biden’s American Rescue Plan to deliver desperately and urgently needed assistance to the American people.
One final note on this topic, the minimum wage. As it has been reported widely, the Senate Parliamentarian is hearing arguments today on the $15 minimum wage policy included in the House version of the bill. According to the Congressional Budget Office, raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour has a significant budgetary impact, which should make it permissible under the Senate’s Reconciliation rules. I want to thank all of the hard-working Senate staffers—on my staff, Senator Sanders’ staff, and many others—in participating in these arguments today.