On CBS This Morning, Schumer Laments Republicans’ Planned 30% Pay Cut To Unemployed Workers, Stresses Need For Real Solution That Provides For Americans’ Needs Amid Historic COVID CrisesJuly 28, 2020
Washington, D.C.—Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer today appeared on CBS This Morning and lamented Republicans’ proposal to cut pay for unemployed workers by 30 percent while helping big corporations. Senator Schumer also stressed the need for a real solution that provides help for Americans’ needs amid the historic COVID economic and public health crises. Below is a transcript of the interview:
Anthony Mason: Joining us now from Capitol Hill is New York Senator and Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Senator, good morning. Negotiations with the White House started last night. You and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were there. Where do we stand right now?
Sen. Schumer: Well, unfortunately, we're pretty far apart right now, although I'm optimistic we could have a good solution at the end. Here's where we are now: we Democrats have put together a package that's bold and strong and deals with the average needs of people. We don't let them get kicked out of their homes because they’ve lost their jobs through no fault of their own. We give them a good amount of unemployment insurance so they can pay. We put in money to feed kids. We put in money to open schools safely. People want schools opened but it has to be done safely. And we give money to state and local governments because thousands, hundreds of thousands of firefighters and bus drivers and garbage workers will be laid off. The Republican plan does almost none of these things. It is stingy. It doesn't provide any money for instance for food, for people who need to feed their kids. Their unemployment insurance, you're telling people who lost their jobs through no fault of their own you get a 30% pay cut. It does nothing for state and the local governments. It is woefully inadequate in helping our schools open. Instead, Anthony, amazingly it has all these corporate benefits. No money for food stamps but a deduction for a three martini lunch for a big businessman. Big cushion for defense contractors, no cushion for people who have been kicked out of their house. And to boot, they threw in there, President Trump wants the FBI headquarters built near his hotel so no new competing hotel can come in, $2 billion for that. One more point. Half the Republicans in the Senate even think that's too generous. So we're pretty far apart. And the negotiations were disappointing.
Anthony Mason: Senator, the supplemental benefit, unemployment benefit has already run out for a lot of people, it’s due to run out for a lot more by the end of the week. So, if you're this far apart what's the real hope here of getting a deal so these people aren't in a panic as David Begnaud reported from Florida already today.
Sen. Schumer: Even if you did the Republican plan, most states said unemployment benefits would be cut off anyway because it's a whole new plan anyway and they have to readjust their computers, hire new people. Many states say it would take months before people would get their checks. There’s a simple solution, the House has passed and we Senate Democrats support simply extending the existing $600 a month until January. That could go into effect easy. That can help our economy because it puts money in people's pockets and then they buy things and go to the stores. That's the only thing that's kept the economy going. And we can get it done. So we urge our Republican colleagues, you know, in the last two bills, the last two COVID bills, they were very stingy. We said it had to be better and they came in our direction, I am hopeful that will happen again.
Anthony Mason: The Republican argument senator, as you know, is that the $600 supplemental is essentially, not an incentive for people to go back to work, it’s actually keeping the from going back to work, what would you say to that?
Sen. Schumer: That misreads the American people. People want jobs. They want permanent jobs. They don't want to stay on unemployment. And the evidence of how many people doing that is very, very small. What's really happening is that they want to favor the big corporate interests as opposed to the average person who needs this money, and every economist has said the unemployment insurance has done more to prevent the recession from getting greater than now. Why cut it and instead these money in these corporate things? I don’t get it.
Anthony Mason: The White House says that if you can't reach an agreement you should pass a narrower bill. Would you support that?
Sen. Schumer: Well, you're going to choose – we should help the unemployed but not help people getting kicked out of their homes, not help feed people, not help schools open? There are so many needs. Remember, this is the greatest economic crisis we've had since the Great Depression. This is the greatest health crisis since the Spanish flu. We need a bold package. We believe that the Republicans will have to move in our direction because the public is completely on our side. Even Republican economists are on our side. They are being held back by a group of hard right-wing people in the Senate who don't want to spend any money on anything and say let the people be damned.
Anthony Mason: Is eviction protection part of this bill?
Sen. Schumer: It's part of our bill but not part of theirs. People will be kicked out of their houses starting next week. We can't let that happen.
Anthony Mason: You're going to have to give up something, senator. Where do you think you can meet the Republican side?
Sen. Schumer: Well look, we're happy to sit down and talk and roll up our sleeves and try. We sat down with Mnuchin and with Meadows last night. There has to be some kind of a meeting. But you can't forego the desperate needs of people because there's a small band of hard right Republicans saying don't do anything. As I said, the last three bills, the Republicans started out very narrow, we Democrats held our ground and said there are a lot of needs and they moved in our direction. I'm very hopeful that will happen again and we'll be able to meet these needs.
Anthony Mason: So, both bills prioritize schools but you're offering significantly more money.
Sen. Schumer: Not only more money, we offer money -- schools have real problems in opening up. If you give every kid a mask and every teacher a mask, that's hundreds of thousands of dollars. You probably have to have two bus routes. If the kids are sitting in a bus right next to each other you can only have one seat and double the bus routes. A lot of schools want to convert their gyms, their cafeterias to classrooms, you need some help with distance learning for people who don’t have adequate Wi-Fi. There's a lot to be done and we provide for it. This is a huge crisis and if we are too stingy it’s going to get worse. That’s what the president’s actions have shown thus far. We're trying to overcome it.
Anthony Mason: Senator, the clock is ticking here. Can you reach a deal by the end of next week?
Sen. Schumer: I hope so, and that's what we're working for. We'll sit down. We’re going to sit down again today. We’ll sit down 24/7. People's needs are so great that we'll do whatever we can to reach a deal. But without foregoing their basic needs.
Anthony Mason: Senator Schumer, thank you very much for being with us.
Sen. Schumer: Good to talk to you.