Washington, D.C.—Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer today appeared on CNN’s New
Day and called for Senate action on the House-passed Heroes Act. Senator
Schumer also condemned the delayed and partisan, behind-closed-doors efforts of
Leader McConnell and Senate Republicans to draft an insufficient
corporations-first bill to address the coronavirus pandemic. Below is a transcript of the interview:
Alisyn Camerota: We are hours away from top Democratic leaders and the White House
meeting to discuss the next coronavirus package. Some proposals that
President Trump is pushing are already running into trouble even with some
members of his own party. Joining us now is Senate Minority Leader Chuck
Schumer. Senator, thank you for being here. So tell us about this meeting that
you're going to have with Meadows and Mnuchin? What's your message to them and
what do you expect to accomplish?
Sen. Schumer: Well, our message to them is let's get going. It's over 60 days
since the House passed the Heroes Act, which is a strong, bold, and
comprehensive proposal to deal with the greatest crisis—the greatest health
crisis we have had in a hundred years, the greatest economic in 75. And as you
mentioned, Alisyn, the Republicans don't even seem to have their own act
together. It’s hard to negotiate when the president says one thing, Senate
Republicans say another, and many of them are divided. So we hope they are
going to be unified and present something to us and present something in
detail. Because up now they have been dithering. They have wasted 60 days as
the crisis gets worse and worse and worse.
Alisyn Camerota: Senator, explain to us if you can what this pushback the White House
is giving lawmakers, including Republican lawmakers, about not wanting to
include money—additional money—for testing and tracing. We have a list of all
even the Republicans who are saying that they desperately need more money for
testing and tracing. Do you understand the logic from the White House in terms
of why they don’t want to do it?
Sen. Schumer: No, it's so typical. Look, President Trump is really probably
number one to blame for this crisis being a lot worse than it is and probably
the number one reason and there are many, you know. He dithered, he said it’s
going to go away, he tells people not to wear masks and all of that. But
the number one reason we're in such trouble is because we don't have adequate
testing and adequate tracing. If you compare America to the other countries, of
the developed countries of the world, whether in Europe or East Asia, many of
them had coronavirus as fierce as we had. Italy, Spain, South Korea. But
they're now getting back a little bit to normal because they had a strong
testing regime and it's befuddling, it's confusing, and it's detrimental to the
health of millions of Americans why the president refuses to do. He has plenty
of tools to do stuff on testing now, such as invoking the Defense Production
Act. We need more help on testing. He's fighting even with his own Republicans
on this. It's totally, totally a dereliction of leadership. It's like there's
no one there leading the country at a time of great crisis.
Alisyn Camerota: As I understand it, what the White House logic is is that there
were billions of dollars in a previous stimulus bill that hasn't been spent,
that was designated for testing, I guess, and tracing and it hasn't yet been
Sen. Schumer: Well, some of the money hasn't been doled out because the White
House hasn't doled it out. The president seems to think if we don't test,
corona will go away. It's an absurd proposition, but that's why he's resisted
this all along. That's why he's resisted the Faucis when they say we need more
testing. It makes no sense. There is money there but it's not close to enough
and we propose more and many Republicans agree with us. But the president is
there and I'll make one other point. Senate Republicans almost never buck the
president. They're afraid of him. They don't like to buck him. They know he can
be mean and vindictive and angry. So even when they know he's wrong, they don't
buck him and I'm really worried that we won't have adequate testing in this new
bill. The Heroes bill has a very good, strong, adequate testing plan.
Alisyn Camerota: How about that $600, the supplemental $600 that are going to
unemployed Americans that will run out this week. What happens when that runs
Sen. Schumer: What happens is millions of people go into poverty. Every expert
has said that the Pandemic Unemployment Insurance, which I proposed with
Senator Wyden. The Republicans have resisted—but thank God it's in the bill,
it's kept millions of people able to feed their families, pay their mortgage, pay
their rent. People who lost their jobs through no fault of their own. It runs
out the end of this month. And if we don't renew it and renew it in a robust
way, millions more will sink back into poverty and lose their homes, get kicked
out of their apartments, and not be able to feed their families. So it makes no
sense to cut back at a time when we have over 20 million unemployed and we have
the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression. To cut back on
unemployment insurance makes no sense whatsoever. And that's what they're
proposing. And then one of their proposals says, “Well, we’ll pay people to go
back to work.” Well, the people who are going back to work are getting a
salary. It’s the people who can’t get back to work who we need to help.
Alisyn Camerota: And are you going to be able to get that done or is there too
Sen. Schumer: Well, we'll see. I mean in the last three COVID bills, initially
the Senate Republicans were stingy and behind the ball. McConnell put on these
very narrow plans. He called them bipartisan but they were negotiated, as he
said, in his own office with no input from us. We Democrats in the House
and Senate resisted and then they came around to a much better plan. I'm
hopeful that will happen again.
Alisyn Camerota: I want to ask you about Russian interference—not in 2016, in
2020. Because there's a development this morning as you know. So top
Congressional Democrats have sent a cryptic letter—I assume you were on this
letter—on Monday that a foreign power is attempting to interfere again.
Obviously this has been a fear of lots of intelligence experts. Part of it is
classified so we don't know all of the details. However, apparently it is
intelligence related to a possible Russian backed attempt to smear the
presidential campaign of former Vice President Joe Biden. Here's what The New
York Times’ David Sanger has found along with his colleagues. “Democrats
contend that the Russian-linked information is being funneled to a committee
headed by Senator Ron Johnson, the Wisconsin Republican who is investigating
Mr. Biden and his son, who was once paid as a board member of a Ukrainian
energy company.” Senator, what can you tell us this morning?
Sen. Schumer: Well, not much because it's classified. But look we all know that
any foreign power when they interfere in our elections, as we all know Russia
did in 2016 despite the fact that the president denies it, he seems to deny
almost everything that's fact and reality these days, it's at the wellspring of
our democracy. Our elections. The Founding Fathers in the Constitution worried
about foreign interference in elections and their prescience is proving
true today because it’s happening. We’ve demanded that the FBI Director, Mr.
Wray, brief the every member of the House and Senate as to what’s
happening so we can know what's happening—it’ll be classified—and then do
things about it. Let's hope he says yes.
Alisyn Camerota: What would you do?
Sen. Schumer: Well, we have to know the details before we can tell you what we
would do. But we should be doing everything to prevent foreign interference in
Alisyn Camerota: We are about a hundred days away from the election. How worried
are you on a scale of 1 to 10 about interference in the election?
Sen. Schumer: I'm very worried. They did it before. It's a lot of countries are
trying to do it. We have to be prepared. We have to be guarded. We have to make
sure they don't. There was less of it in 2018 than 2016. But no one knows if
that's because some of these countries decided to lay off and give us a sense
of complacency or not. But we should be ever vigilant—ever vigilant. If people
think that a foreign country helped determine our election and lose faith in
our democracy, that’s the beginning of the end of this grand experiment in
democracy that has been so successful for more than 200 and some odd years.
Alisyn Camerota: I want to ask you about the Supreme Court. We are very happy,
obviously, that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg appears to be on the mend out
of the hospital, but it does raise the question as to what would happen if
through retirement or something else there was a vacancy on the Court. And
Republicans have begun to talk about what they would do. And they say that they
would absolutely allow a nomination and a confirmation even right now during
this election as well as after the election. After November regardless of who
wins, they would up until January of a new administration still go through that
Sen. Schumer: Well, I'll say two things. Let's hope that doesn't come to pass.
Let's all hope and pray for Ruth Bader Ginsburg's continued health. But second,
one thing is certain. Leader McConnell twists the rules. Sometimes he's for the
rules, sometimes he wants to change the rules for whatever he thinks benefits
him at the moment. That does not serve our democracy, that does not serve separation
of powers, that does not serve what this country needs.
Alisyn Camerota: Here's what Senator John Thune says about it. In terms of will,
they would fill the vacancy. He says, “We will. That would be part of this
year. We would move on it.”
Sen. Schumer: Let's hope we don't have to even confront that awful type
Alisyn Camerota: Senator Chuck Schumer, we really appreciate you covering all of
this and giving us all this information. Thank you very much.
Sen. Schumer: Thank you, Alisyn. Have a good day.