Washington, D.C.—Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today took to the Senate floor, urging Republicans to join Democrats in honoring the sacrifices of our veterans and in condemning President Trump’s denigration of military service prisoners of war and gold star families by passing Senator Tammy Duckworth’s resolution. Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) objected to the unanimous consent motion. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:
Thank you, Mr. President. And I'm proud to support the resolution by the Senator from Illinois, and we'll hear from her shortly. I very much appreciate her work.
Now, in his famous letter to Lydia Bixby, a mother of five sons who all died in the Civil War, President Lincoln prayed that “our Heavenly Father would assuage her grief,” noting the “solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of Freedom.”
According to a recent report in The Atlantic, President Trump complained about visiting a WWI military cemetery in France because Americans who died there were “suckers” and “losers.”
Over the past four years, President Trump has achieved some remarkable lows in the annals of presidential conduct and character. But every so often, you are jolted by the sheer depravity of his comments. This president’s insults about our fallen service members, and the nature of military service in general, fall into that category—the lowest of the low.
There is no greater sacrifice an American can make than to lay down their life for our country. No greater sorrow than the sorrow felt by parents who bury their children wrapped in the American flag. Everyone who has the privilege of working in public office knows this deep truth in their bones.
But not the current President of the United States. Not President Trump. Not this man who dodged the Vietnam War with “bone spurs.” Not this man who insulted Gold Star families. Who looked at our former colleague, John McCain, a man who was tortured in a POW camp for five years, and said, “I prefer people who weren’t captured.”
Not this President—who
doesn’t understand one iota of the word “sacrifice” and cannot even comprehend
why someone might give
of themselves for a larger cause.
According to these reports, when President Trump went to Arlington National Cemetery, which included a visit to the grave of Gen. Kelly’s son, he turned to him and said: “I don’t get it. What was in it for them?”
Everyone—everyone—ought to be appalled. What the commander in chief says about our service members and our veterans matters a great deal. It affects the morale of our military, our standing on the world stage, and it reveals the character—the character—of the man who has to make life-and-death decisions involving our armed forces.
We’ve heard the president and his team try to deny that the President ever made those comments. I mean, c’mon.
The president is on video saying nearly the same thing, out loud, on several occasions—about one of our former colleagues no less.
In a short time, Senator Duckworth will ask this chamber to condemn the president’s remarks and reaffirm our nation’s steadfast and unwavering commitment to the individuals serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. I want to thank the Senator from Illinois for leading this resolution and more importantly, I want to thank her for her service, both to the people of Illinois and to our country as an Army aviation officer.
I hope, I pray, I plead with our Republican friends not to block this resolution. I am already disappointed at how few of them have spoken out to criticize President Trump for his remarks. Are they really so afraid to say anything against this president that they would give him a pass when he disparages our own military?
Will they really block a resolution condemning these unequivocally disgusting comments? A resolution that reaffirms our support of the military? I certainly hope not.
If you can’t stand up and say the president was wrong to say these things, then what can you criticize this president—or any president—for?
When comments like this are made about sacrifices of our armed forces, every single elected official should understand—instinctively—that they are wrong, especially—especially—when they come from the commander-in-chief himself.
Let’s have the entire Senate—Democrats and Republicans—stand together and say so with this resolution.