Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the progress made toward finalizing President Biden’s Build Back Better plan in hopes of coming to a framework agreement by the end of today. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:
Yesterday was another productive day as we make progress towards finalizing President Biden’s Build Back Better plan.
After another vigorous, spirited caucus lunch, meetings continue with Senate colleagues and members of the White House as well as with the President. An agreement is within arm’s length, and we are hopeful that we can come to a framework agreement by the end of today.
But we must—we must—continue working a little more to make sure it is the best deal possible for the American people.
I am working especially hard to strengthen Medicare and make prescription drugs more affordable. Senator Sanders has worked hard to push for many of these Medicare provisions and I support them.
At its core, the goals of Build Back Better are about restoring the middle class in the 21st Century, helping people who are in the middle class stay there, helping people who are struggling to get to the middle class to get there, and giving more Americans the opportunity for good, fulfilling lives and better lives for their kids. And, of course, we must take bold action to tackle the climate crisis which would overwhelm our globe all too quickly if we don't act.
It’s an agenda that favors not those at the very top but everyday Americans who are struggling to achieve the American dream in the 21st century. Unfortunately, the past twenty years in America has been a story of middle-class decline: even before COVID, the Federal Reserve estimated that over 40% of Americans in this day and age would still, still have trouble covering an emergency expense of just $400, which you can easily incur if you have to fix your car, make repairs at home or visit a doctor.
A few decades ago, the story was very different. For much of the postwar era, most Americans had confidence that if you were willing to work hard, you could save a little and you could leave something behind for your loved ones. Nobody was guaranteed riches, but the basic bargain in America was that those who put in an honest day’s work would be able to make ends meet.
Build Back Better is precisely—precisely—about rekindling that faith in the American Dream. That’s no easy task; Americans face serious, severe challenges today that did not exist in the past:
Raising a family is more difficult than ever.
The challenges of finding and affording child care and Pre-K have grown exponentially.
Seniors are struggling to afford basic health care and prescription drugs.
These are not luxury items! These aren’t handouts or entitlements! They are essentials! They’re essentials that families need in order to work and get ahead—and they are oftentimes much, much harder to afford than they were in the past.
That’s what we mean by providing ladders to the middle class and helping families stay in the middle class. That’s what we mean by reviving that sunny American optimism, which this country has lost in the last few decades. We have got to get it back. And the only way we can get it back is by bold action that gives people renewed hope in their futures and the future of their children.
The work we do right now will echo far into the twenty first century. This is the best opportunity we’ve had in a long time to make sure that the decades to come will offer the same—or even greater—opportunities that Americans enjoyed in the past.
And if Democrats keep working together, if we keep our eye on the ultimate goal, and we keep negotiating to find that legislative sweet spot—then we will succeed in rewarding the trust that the American people have placed in us.