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Majority Leader Schumer Floor Remarks Urging The Senate To Move Forward With The COVID–19 Hate Crimes Act And Announcing Intent To Act On The Bipartisan Water Infrastructure Bill Next Week

Washington, D.C.   Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor in advance of the vote on proceeding to the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act regarding the importance of passing legislation to respond to the wave of anti-Asian hate across the country. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

We live in partisan times. But there are moments when we can break through the typical divisions and work together on matters of real urgency.

The Anti-Asian Hate Crimes legislation this week is such a matter.

It is a very straightforward and relatively modest bill to address a pressing and important issue in the country. It would designate a point-person at the Justice Department to identify hate crimes towards Asian Americans related to COVID-19—telling federal law enforcement to make these hate crimes a top priority during the pandemic.

Just as important, it would send a strong message to two groups. To the Asian-American community that the country is paying attention to them. And to all of America, that this kind of bigotry cannot be tolerated.

I was gratified to hear the Republican Leader yesterday say that the Senate Republican conference wanted to move forward on the bill. This bill was never intended to be some kind of gotcha legislation. It’s led by Sens. Hirono and Duckworth, two outstanding Asian-American Senators who rightfully want to respond to the rising tide of anti-Asian violence over the past year.

When they asked me to move the bill quickly, I thought that was exactly the right thing to do, and here it is on the floor.

The fact that Leader McConnell said yesterday he believes discrimination against Asian-Americans is a real problem and wants to move forward and be constructive is a very good thing, and I salute him for it.

The entire Senate ought to stand up against the recent surge of anti-Asian violence. We can take the first step later today by voting to proceed to the legislation.

As I said yesterday, my intention is to have a bipartisan amendment process, beginning with an amendment offered by Senators Moran and Blumenthal—one Republican, one a Democrat.

In consultation with the Republican Leader, we can work out an agreement on other germane, non-gotcha amendments to the bill if Senators have them. We should be able—and should really try in earnest—to reach a final resolution and pass the bill through the Senate very, very soon.

Taking a step back for the moment—this is how the process should work in a closely divided Senate. If the Republican minority allows the Senate to move forward with a bill where we have shared priorities, the Democratic majority will work to set up a process for the Senate to consider germane amendments from both sides. That is the essence of the organizing resolution we all agreed to earlier this year. And hopefully it is a process we can repeat.

In fact, we will test that proposition on the very next piece of legislation. If we’re able to finish the anti-Asian Hate Crimes bill in a timely manner, I will move next to consider a bipartisan water infrastructure bill.

The bill—the Drinking Water and Infrastructure Act—was advanced by the Environmental and Public Works Committee on a unanimous, unanimous, vote. It will authorize tens of billions of dollars to make sure American families, especially low-income families, have access to safe and clean drinking water. And I salute Senator Carper, the chair of the committee, as well as Senator Capito, the ranking Republican on the committee, for coming together on such an important and necessary bill.

So, in addition to further nominations, it’s my intention to move the bipartisan water infrastructure bill next week.

As the country turns the corner from COVID-19, our focus will soon shift to how we can cement our economic recovery and create the jobs of the future. President Biden’s “Build Back Better” agenda—a big, bold investment in infrastructure and jobs—is extremely important to that effort. It has wide support among Democrats and wide support among the American people. Many, many Republicans out there in the country support this bill, and this concept. And the water infrastructure bill is a small but important part of that overall effort.

We hope our Republican colleagues join us in advancing these proposals to repair and reimagine our nation’s infrastructure for a new century.

Just like the anti-Asian Hate Crimes bill, if Republicans let us get on the bill, we can work out a process to have bipartisan debate and amendments. But if the Republican minority prevents the Senate from even debating some of these commonsense proposals, we will have to try to move forward without them.