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Majority Leader Schumer Remarks At The McCain Award Dinner At Munich Security Conference

Munich, Germany  Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke at the McCain Award Dinner at Munich Security Conference. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks as prepared:

Good evening Munich! It is so good to be here tonight among friends! Thank you Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger for your introduction, and for hosting this wonderful dinner.

Thank you to Ambassador Cindy McCain, to my Senate and House Colleagues, and other distinguished guests for being here.

Congratulations to tonight’s honoree, Marino Auffant, on your remarkable dissertation from Harvard on the history of transatlantic oil politics of the last century. And to all of tonight’s guests, and especially those working behind the scenes to make this evening a success, thank you all.

It’s so great to be in Munich. I might be from New York, but I think one of the best beers in the world is brewed here, by Paulaner!

And does anyone know where Paulaner USA--which imports Paulaner to America--is located? In New York, of course—in White Plains!

So on behalf of my home state, prost!

It’s an honor to speak at a ceremony bearing the name of my dear friend, the late Senator John McCain. It means a lot to his former colleagues to see this dinner, held half a world away from Washington, chose him as a role model. He certainly was that to all of us: a role model and a friend in the truest sense of the word.

In his final speech, Senator McCain said the work of democracy is a messy enterprise—imperfect statecraft arising from imperfect institutions brought to life by imperfect people.

Still, he urged us in America to press ahead, to rely more deeply “on our need to cooperate, on our dependence on each other” and to learn how to trust each other so we can work together for the common good.

Senator McCain said these things nearly half a decade ago, but he might as well be speaking to us today.

Because we meet at a moment demanding cooperation, dependence, and trust between the United States and the nations of Europe. Tonight I speak not only as Majority Leader of the United States Senate, but as a partner committed to advance the cause of democracy.

And I speak for all of my colleagues when I say we come not only as legislators from the US Congress, but as your friends, at a time when the friendship between us is more important than ever. 

To the people of Ukraine, I pledge that the United States Senate will not abandon our commitment to stand shoulder to shoulder with you in this time of war. I am proud that the US Senate has approved $113 billion in military, economic, and humanitarian aid to Ukraine over the last year. And while this is a significant investment in our friends in Ukraine, we must not stop. There is more work to be done.

No civilized nation can tolerate the evils Putin has unleashed on the Ukrainian people. He has slaughtered civilians, destroyed Ukraine’s infrastructure, reduced entire cities to rubble.

We need only look back a few generations ago—to the Holodomor, when Stalin starved millions of Ukrainians—to see what horrors can happen when the world turns a blind eye to Russian aggression.

And like Stalin, Putin will not stop at Ukraine. A Russian victory will not lead to détente but even more belligerence. Again: we dare not ignore the lessons of history--appeasement only empowers autocrats. 

In America and Europe, there are some on the hard right who say we should abandon Ukraine and negotiate with Putin.

It’s ironic that the hard right, which historically opposed communism, now openly flirts with autocrats like Putin. It’s an issue on both sides of the Atlantic. And it’s one of the many ways, in my view, of how the former US President so gravely damaged our country and gravely damaged the democratic international order.

The good news is that majorities on both sides of America’s political parties stand firmly shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine. I want to thank my Republican colleagues who’ve championed American aid to the Ukrainians, especially my friend Mitch McConnell, the Republican Leader in the Senate. 

As Majority Leader, working with Mitch, I will do everything in my power to make sure the US does not walk away from Ukraine.

The Transatlantic partnership must also work together to confront the Chinese Communist Party, the most powerful autocratic force on Earth. This is no simple task.

Recently US forces shot down a Chinese surveillance balloon within our borders. It was a brazen violation of American sovereignty; an illustration of how China has continuously escalated its aggression against the West.

The US is hardly alone—Chinese surveillance balloons have targeted over 40 countries around the world.

But it’s not just Chinese espionage that threatens the West. China has dedicated hundreds of billions to dominate the global economy and the advanced technologies that will shape this century.

China’s innovations in Artificial Intelligence, for instance, have empowered them to monitor and oppress their citizens in ways once thought unimaginable—a challenge which we must respond to now.

I believe the US and Europe must work to meet the challenges of AI together. This technology is coming like it or not—and in many ways its already here. If our transatlantic partnership can help define the norms for AI’s proper use in society, we can prevent China from accessing and exploiting this technology to further their autocratic designs.

We must work together to ensure the democratic international order does not disintegrate in the face of an increasingly aggressive Chinese Communist Party.

And the task does not belong to the US and Europe alone: we need nations like India, the world’s largest democracy, and the democracies of Asia, to work with us to outcompete China.

I will travel to India and deliver the same message to them as we seek to counter this looming threat. I urge Europe to do the same. India, with its democratic traditions, can be a very strong partner in outcompeting China. And India joining the western partnership could serve the purpose of advancing democracy.

Last summer, the United States Senate took steps to outcompete China by passing the CHIPS and Science Act, and I am pleased the European Union passed their own Chips legislation too. I commit to working with Europe to strengthen our industrial bonds, strengthen our common supply chains, and pave the way for another century of mutual prosperity.

Finally, we must also together prepare the world for a clean energy future. A few months ago, I led the Senate in passing the Inflation Reduction Act, a bill solidifying the US’s leadership in the fight against climate change.

It’s not lost on me that a few parts of the bill were controversial in Europe—my Republican colleagues on this trip won’t let me forget it. I know many fear our actions suggest the US is going its own way on clean energy.

That is not true—on the contrary, we recognize that while America must be a leader in fighting climate change, we can’t do it alone.

I pledge to do everything we can to ensure America’s transition to clean energy does not come at the expense of the transatlantic partnership. For over half a century the US and Europe have done more to advance the mutual causes of prosperity and freedom than any other partnership in history. Under my watch, the Senate will do everything to ensure it stays that way for generations to come.

Friends, these are the challenges that face our world in this century. The United States, NATO, and Europe must meet these challenges together, as partners, as friends, as nations bound by common hopes and common values. This task will not be easy, nor does it belong to the faint of heart.

But like John McCain, we must press ahead with courage, with conviction in our common values, and ready to work together as friends in this great endeavor.

We promise to always stand alongside you every step of the way, as partners and as friends. Thank you all very much.