Schumer Floor Remarks Calling On The Senate To Pass A Coronavirus Relief Bill That Meets The Needs Of The American People

November 16, 2020

Washington, D.C. — Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor, regarding the urgent need to pass a coronavirus relief bill for the American people. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

COVID-19, as we know unfortunately, has upended nearly every aspect of American life for the better part of a year. But as impatient as we all are for our lives to return to normal, the harsh truth of the matter is that the coming months may be, by far, the worst of the pandemic.

Cases have skyrocketed to well over 150,000 Americans per day; we are now recording more than 1 million new COVID cases a week. Hospital ICUs and morgues in many parts of the country are approaching or are even beyond capacity.

Americans must brace themselves for a long winter. We cannot tire of the simple precautions that limit the spread of the disease and save lives. Wear a mask. Social distance. Avoid large indoor gatherings. Stay vigilant.

We must all continue to do our part to prevent this next surge from overwhelming our health systems and endangering our fellow citizens.

Congress, as well, should be doing all that’s necessary to support those efforts and prevent the worst from happening.

Too many Americans have lost health care coverage as a result of losing their jobs this year. Medicaid has seen a huge increase in new enrollees and needs resources. As unemployment remain in the tens of millions, extending unemployment insurance is paramount. And many more things besides.

Speaker Pelosi and I have been in regular communication with President-elect Biden and his transition team. 

Unlike the current administration, the incoming administration wants to move rapidly to get a handle on the virus and recover our economy. Today, President-elect Biden urged the Senate to pass the Heroes Act—comprehensive legislation that leaves no one behind.

That’s just the right approach—our country deserves a bill that meets the needs of the American people and that meets the needs of the moment. If Leader McConnell and our Republican colleagues want to sit down and negotiate a bipartisan solution, with a bipartisan process, Democrats are ready and willing and able to do so.

But unfortunately, it’s been two weeks since Leader McConnell said he was in charge of negotiating the next COVID-19 relief bill, and he still hasn’t spoken to Speaker Pelosi or myself. We have 14 votes on the floor this week on nominations for a lame duck president but we have nothing pertaining to COVID.

There is, however, a bit of good news today. A second U.S. company announced that it has discovered an effective vaccine in phase three trials. Early figures suggest it is close to 95% effective. As these two vaccines move through the final approval process, we should prepare the country to produce and distribute them to everyone—in a comprehensive bill that includes robust vaccine funding.

Finally, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. But we are still in that tunnel, and may be for several months.

So we must pull together, once again, to do everything in our individual power to turn the tide of the virus.