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On MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Schumer Lays Out How Republicans’ Dithering And Delays Have Prevented Action On Coronavirus For Months

Washington, D.C.—Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer today appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe and laid out how Senate Republicans’ dithering and delays have prevented action to address the coronavirus crisis for months. Below is a transcript of the interview:
Mika Brzezinski: Let's bring in Chuck Schumer of New York. Great to have you on the show this morning. First of all, I'd like for you to comment on whether or not you feel it's safe for children in your state, but also across America to go back to school?
Sen. Schumer: Well look, I think safety has to come first and if we let Donald Trump push us around, he pushed around his friendly governors in Texas and Arizona and Florida and Georgia to open up too quickly and look what's happened there. You could open up a school very quickly, inevitably, if you don’t do it safely, a kid, a teacher will get corona and then the school will have to shutdown, that's even worse.
The one thing I would say, we have proposed something that might really help. There are ways schools can be made safe but they need a lot of resources. They need money for masks. I was up at a school district in upstate New York, 4,000 students, 5,000 administrators, it’s going to cost them, if they give a mask every day, which is what the scientists say, a new mask every day, about four or 500,000. They have to change their bus routes, the kids can’t sit next to each other on a bus, they have to double the bus routes. They want to take some of their gyms and cafeterias and convert them into classrooms. So we proposed quickly, if the Republicans would ever get their act together and start negotiating with us, money to go to these schools so they can make them safer because we do want to open the schools but only if they're safe as Laurie Garrett said.
Mika Brzezinski: So where do the stimulus talks stand? And by the way when it comes to the money for schools, I mean, schools are starting pretty soon, some of them start in two weeks.
Sen. Schumer: You bring up a great point, Mika. This is why we're at the cliff. We passed our very comprehensive bill, bold, helping average American families close to two and a half months ago. We still don't have the proposal from the Republicans. They're dithering. They’re divided. Donald Trump provides no leadership. Lindsey Graham said there are half of the people in the Republican caucus that will vote for no stimulus. So we don’t even have a plan to negotiate with. Three weeks ago, Speaker Pelosi and I sent a letter to McConnell and said let's sit down and talk but they're so divided that they’re nowhere and we have all these cliffs. We have unemployment running out, we have renter protection running out, we have state and local governments going into a new month and won't have the money and will lay off thousands and thousands of people. We’re at all these cliffs and we still at this very moment don’t have a plan from the Republicans. We want to sit down and negotiate. But you can't negotiate with a ghost.
Mika Brzezinski:  Reverend Al?
Rev. Al Sharpton: Senator Schumer, as we look at this deadline, there are people that literally can't get by with their bills. We're seeing the first of August at the end of this weekend. And for people not to have the security that there's serious conversations to extend unemployment and to deal with new stimulus, I know you well. I know you know how nerve racking and the anxiety it causes the citizens.
Sen. Schumer:  It's appalling. These are people who lost their jobs through no fault of their own. All they want to do is feed their children, all they want to do is make sure they can pay the rent so they're not kicked out of their homes. That expired last Thursday, the moratorium. How awful it is. You have kids you love them and you want to treat them well and you don't even know where any money is going to come from. So we proposed expanding this pandemic unemployment insurance, which has kept more people out of poverty than any other program, until January 31st. It’s the quickest and best way to do it. Now our Republican friends are saying a bunch of things, some are saying they don’t want to expand it at all. Some are saying, let’s give a 30% pay cut to these folks, well, they’re losing their jobs through no fault of their own and we should give them a pay cut when they’re desperate? And by the way, you talk to these economists, and I’m not talking to liberal democratic economists, Republican economists, pandemic unemployment insurance has done more to pump money into the economy, that’s why you're seeing purchases go up and they want to crash the economy as well. And third, if they try to adjust this -- here's another of their great plans. Let's give people money when they go back to work. People going back to work have a salary – what about the people who can't go back to work because their jobs are gone? It’s just incredible. And finally, if they tweak the dials, their own secretary of labor said it'll take a month or two before we can readjust this program. The simple, easiest thing to do is extend it, it's been one of the most successful programs at keeping people out of poverty, getting money into the economy quickly. Had we not done it we’d probably be in a depression, if we don't do it again we could go into a depression, as bad as this recession is.
Mika Brzezinski:   Let's get to Mike Barnicle, he’s got the next question. Mike?
Sen. Schumer:  Hi, Mike.
Mike Barnicle: Senator Schumer, as we speak this morning, landlords are sending out eviction notices. People are going to be thrown out of their apartments. What are we going to do? What are you going to do? What's going to happen here quickly to help those people? Can anything happen quickly?
Sen. Schumer:  We proposed two and a half months ago in the Heroes Act, $100 billion to help pay the rents for these people who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own so they can stay in their apartment. There was a moratorium for three months. But, now that it's expired these folks owe three month's rent, they don’t have one month’s rent, they’ve lost their jobs. So they can't pay three months' rent. And by the way, this idea to extended the moratorium, well, you know, the people who own the buildings a lot of them are little landlords, second floor two family house like in Boston and we have in Brooklyn. They need some money to pay their heating bills. So we proposed in the bill, in the Heroes Bill that passed the House, $100 billion to help renters pay their rents over the next few months while unemployment is bad, and we proposed $75 billion to help people who own homes who can't pay the mortgage so they won't be foreclosed out of their homes. Every expert says it would solve the problem. It's adequate, it’s strong, and it gets to the problem, they need money. Again, we've been asking our Republican colleagues to meet with us. Pelosi and I asked McConnell to sit down and talk with us three weeks ago on this issue. We have our plan for 2 1/2 months. I have never, never – this is frustrating for so many people who are suffering, seen a party in such total disarray in the midst of a huge, huge crisis. We have the greatest economic crisis since the depression. We have the greatest health crisis since the Spanish flu. And we have a Republican party that has nothing – you can't negotiate with a ghost. We don't even have a plan. They were supposed to have it Monday morning, now they say they're delaying it. Lindsey Graham says half of them won’t vote for it anyway.
Mika Brzezinski:  The economic crisis, the health crisis, we also have protests in the street, some of which are turning violent. We have the president sending the feds in to “deal with the problem,” putting that in quotes. What's your message to protesters at this time especially since many are stepping out in the streets really to push back against this federal invasion, I'm not sure if I used the right word, but the federal response. What's your advice to protesters?
Sen. Schumer:  Of course, we don't like it. There should be no violence. That is not the vast majority of protesters. They're peaceful. What started this? Well, if you ask the mayor of Portland and the governor of Oregon and the Attorney General of Oregon, and my two senators, things were calming down. What did Donald Trump decide to do in his own awful, inimitable way? He chose to create a diversion. He’s failing on testing. He's failing on the economy. He’s failing on getting us back to school safely as your last little bit just showed. So what does he do? Does he do what a normal president should do, roll up his sleeves and try to solve those problems? No. He creates a diversion that's nasty, that’s divisive. And by the way, won’t work. The American people want us to come together. This is a crisis. And so we do have a proposal that we're going to try to get in the COVID-4 bill. Very simple. It was offered by Senator Jeff Merkley. It has broad support in the democratic caucus which is as follows. One, no unmarked cars or police officers or federal officers in these situations. It's got to say your name and the agency you work for, and when you pick someone up, as the Constitution says, you have to tell them who they are. More importantly, no federal agents can go—they can stay on the federal property itself, but they can't go in the streets like here. They can't go like the picture you're showing. They can't go up and down and patrol the cities without the permission of the mayor and the governor. We have had federal people come in to help when there is unrest, but it's at the request of the governors and the mayors. The governor and the mayor of Oregon and other cities are saying, he's creating more disruption and more hostility. Now, that's his M.O., but you know what, Mika, he leads America wrong. Americans want us to come together and solve these problems, not create divisive, nasty and oftentimes bigoted issues.
Mika Brzezinski:   Senator Chuck Schumer, thank you very, very much for being on the show this morning.
Sen. Schumer:  Thank you, thank you. Stay healthy.