Washington, D.C. — Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor to again call for a vote on increasing direct payment to struggling American families from $600 to $2000. Senator Schumer called for an up-or-down vote on the House-passed bipartisan bill to deliver $2,000 checks to the American people – Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) objected. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:
The Senate today meets for a rare New Year’s Eve session for one reason and one reason only: the Republican Leader has refused to allow us to vote on legislation to provide the American people $2,000 checks.
He has twice objected to my requests to set a time for a vote on the measure, claiming yesterday that direct stimulus checks were “poorly targeted,” bemoaning the idea that some of the checks might go into “the hands of Democrats’ rich friends who don’t need the help.” Sen. Toomey said much the same thing.
Well funny, I don’t remember the Republican Leader and Senator Toomey complaining about how a $2 trillion, across-the-board corporate tax cut was “poorly targeted” because some large companies didn’t need the help.
No—when corporations get a blanket tax break, that’s fine by the Republican majority. When average Americans get a little help from their government, it’s “poorly targeted.”
I hope that every American heard the objections by these Republican Senators. I hope every American who has their water or heat or electricity shut off; or had eviction notices stapled on top of one another to their door; or had to choose which meal to skip on a given day—I hope they all heard that the reason they will not receive $2,000 checks is because Leader McConnell thinks it could wind up in the hands of “Democrats’ rich friends.”
Now, let’s be very clear. There is one way, and one way only, to pass $2,000 checks before the end of the year. And that’s to pass the House bill. It is the only way to get the American people the $2,000 checks they need and deserve. The House is gone for the session. Any modification or addition to the House bill can’t become law. Either the Senate takes up and passes the House bill, or struggling Americans will not get $2,000 checks during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
And Leader McConnell knows this. So he has said that the Senate can only vote on a bill that combines the checks with other unrelated, partisan policies: repeal Section 230, and an investigation into the President’s dishonest and bogus claims of election fraud. The Republican Leader claims that President Trump insists that all three issues must be addressed in one bill. But, of course, the President made no such demand. President Trump couldn’t care less about how the bills are packaged in Congress.
So, the Republican Leader has invented an excuse to prevent a clean, up-or-down, yes-or-no, vote on $2,000 checks coming to the floor. This maneuver to combine all three issues is intended to kill the possibility of $2,000 checks ever becoming law.
Just to prove it, let me make this offer to the Republican majority.
We’re willing to vote on the other issues that President Trump mentioned—all the issues the Republican Leader says must be addressed—so long as we vote on them separately. That way, $2,000 checks could become law and we could debate all the president’s supposed concerns.
We can vote on setting up a commission to look at the President's roundly rejected claims of voter fraud. We would also have the commission look at voter suppression and gerrymandering. That's completely unrelated to helping Americans pay their bills, but we're willing to take a look at the whole picture. Just give us a vote on the House-passed bill so we get help now to people who desperately need it.
Heck, we can also have a vote on repealing Section 230. We can do it today. We’ll use Leader McConnell’s exact language. But he won’t agree to that because he knows that his caucus wouldn’t actually support such an act. Unlike the President, some members of this body understand what 230 means. They understand that Section 230, which certainly needs change, actually enables the President to spew his lies.
We all know the 117th Congress will have to take a close look at the relationship between liability and reckless speech on the internet. But if Leader McConnell wants a vote on these issues, we’re here for it. Just give us a vote on the House-passed bill and we can vote on whatever right-wing conspiracy theory you’d like.
We can even vote to set up a special, blue-ribbon commission to determine whether Georgia’s Secretary of State has a brother named Ron if that would make our Republican friends happy.
Just don’t let these conspiracy theories and Presidential fantasies get in the way of helping actual people. People whose livelihoods have been torn apart by this pandemic. People whose lives have been torn apart by the Administration’s mismanagement of this pandemic. People who need just a little direct assistance.
Now, the President’s term, thankfully, will end in 20 days. It’s a term that has been marked by hate and division and turmoil. He has so far used his term to enrich himself and the wealthy. Let us close out the term on a good note. For once, he wants to help regular people. To give Americans a leg up. Let’s allow him to do that.
We have a chance, at the end of this painful year, to give Americans a reason to have some hope in 2021. The only thing standing in the way is the Republican Senate majority.
In a moment, I will once again ask consent that the Senate set a time for a vote on the House bill to provide $2,000 checks to the American people. Remember, Democrats are willing to vote on all the other issues the Republicans say the President supposedly cares about. Just let us vote on a clean bill for the $2,000 checks.