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Majority Leader Schumer Floor Remarks Opposing The Republican Attempt To Overturn President Biden’s Vaccine And Testing Rule

Washington, D.C.   Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the Republican proposal to overturn President Biden’s vaccine requirements and urged all Americans to get vaccinated. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

Reports this morning indicate that getting vaccinated and boosted offers significant protection against the Omicron variant.

As we learn more about Omicron, it’s an important moment for national leaders to double and triple down on encouraging all eligible Americans to get vaccinated—and boosted—as soon as possible.

But as soon as today, our Republican friends are going to come to the floor to push an anti-science, anti-vaccine proposal to overturn the President’s vaccine requirements for businesses with more than 100 employees.

My friends, America, we are in the middle of a public health crisis. Everyone sees the damage it causes to themselves, their friends their families, their communities. And the way to solve this is be driven by science.

We've had hundreds of years of scientific advancement. It's helped us live longer and live healthier. My dad just lived until 98. That didn't happen in a vacuum. And it certainly wouldn't have happened when there was scientific advances if people said let's not listen to them for political, ideological, or whatever reason.

We cannot go back to the days when people were driven by wild theories. Some of the anti-vaxxers here in this chamber remind me of what happened 400 years ago when people were clinging to the fact that the Sun revolved around the Earth. They just didn't believe science. Or 500 years ago when  they were sure the earth was flat.

It's just like that. The science is here. And what does the science show? The more people get vaccinated, the greater chance we have to eliminate and certainly greatly reduce the virulence and widespreadness of this disease.

And people are resisting. Is it political? Is it fueled by lies on the internet? Is it just because people fear vaccines? We never had this outcry when we had to give our kids--my kids--mumps, measles vaccines before they went to school. We never had this outcry as people lined up to get flu shots. And all of a sudden something has happened here. It's wrong and it's bad for the country, and it's not based on any scientific evidence whatsoever.

I know wild stories on the internet, lies sometimes get in people's heads but we can't listen to lies. We're a fact-based society. We always have been.

The biggest thing standing between us and the end of the pandemic is Americans who have refused to get vaccinated. Too many Americans believe a wide range of conspiracy theories about the vaccines. And even those who seem to encourage those crazy theories often get vaccinated themselves and don't tell anybody. We've had so many of these hard-right leaders admitting oh, yeah, I did get vaccinated, even though they're telling people they shouldn't have to take one. Oh, yeah, I'll get vaccinated but you shouldn't have to.

If the only damage was to the person—him or herself who didn't get vaccinated—maybe some people would say that's okay. But it's not just to them: when there's a large pool of people unvaccinated, even if it's not the majority, that allows the COVID virus to spread, to mutate, to create new variants, and create stronger new variants.

It's a pool of people: if you greatly reduce that pool, you greatly reduce the chance of a new variant, particularly a virulent variant, from afflicting us in the months ahead. It's crazy.

The internet has had a role in spreading this and so has the far right. The same people in the far right who want to tear down government and hurt working people in so many other ways are here doing the same thing. The same thing. Even though, as I said, a good number of them get vaccinated themselves. Hypocrisy.

There should be one message—and one message only—coming from this chamber to the American people: get vaccinated, get boosted, and stay safe yourself, keep your families, your communities and our country safe.

The worst thing we can do is to tie our own hands behind our backs, and let these new variants spread and grow and new ones after Omicron and so many others. But that is what Republican-pushed, anti-vaccines would do.

I will strongly vote against this measure, with strong feelings about what’s good for this country and about fighting anti-science and theories that seem to, as I said, come from the same place that the flat Earth theory came from, that the theory that the sun revolves around the Earth came from.

Anti-science, non-science, fictional belief comes from there. We ought not give it a stamp of approval in this chamber.