Schumer Floor Remarks Laying Out The Failures Of The Republican COVID Proposal To Meet The Needs Of The American People And Calling For Serious, Bipartisan Negotiations To Pass A Bill That Does
July 28, 2020
Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor and laid
out the shortcomings of the Senate Republican proposal to meet the needs of the
American people while showering benefits on big corporations. Senator Schumer
also called for serious, bipartisan negotiations to pass a comprehensive bill
that addresses the COVID public health and economic crises. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be
Yesterday, after putting the Senate
on “pause” for three months, and after months of blocking nearly every
Democratic attempt to pass legislation related to coronavirus, Senate
Republicans finally revealed their long-overdue proposal for the next phase of
In my many years of serving in this
chamber, I have never seen a Republican Majority—or a Senate majority of any
type—respond to a national emergency in such a disorganized and disoriented
fashion. Weeks of infighting among Senate Republicans and the White House
caused unnecessary and harmful delays. Instead of presenting a single, unified
bill, Republicans released several separate drafts last night, and there might
be more today. They can’t agree on one bill. They can’t get 51 votes for
anything that’s comprehensive, that deals with the problems—the very real
problems—that the American people face.
And even before Republicans announced
their bills, senior Republican Senators admitted that they lacked the full
support of Republicans. Two Republican chairmen have said that probably half of
the Republican Senate will vote against their own proposals.
Worst of all, the Republican plan
falls dreadfully short: it is un-unified, unserious, completely unsatisfactory.
My Republican friends, this is the
greatest crisis America has faced in generations. A hundred years since the
last health crisis of this magnitude, 75 years since the Great Depression, and
you are paying attention to your corporate friends and not answering the needs
of the people.
We Democrats want a real bill that
answers peoples’ needs, that deals with the serious problems we face. That’s
what we’re fighting for. We’ll keep fighting for it. And our Republican friends
are nowhere to be found.
While the Republican proposal fails
to provide crucial relief for families, workers, and the unemployed, it is
littered with corporate giveaways, K-street handouts, and presidential pet
The Republican bill includes a $20
billion slush fund for large agribusinesses and tax breaks for three-martini
lunches, but it doesn’t provide a dime in food assistance for hungry kids.
It includes an unprecedented,
sweeping provision to shield corporations (for five years) from liability for
the negligent treatment of workers and consumers, but there’s no new sweeping
provision to shield Americans from evictions or foreclosures.
It includes a $30 billion wish list
for defense contractors but no funding to make sure Americans can vote safely
There are reports that the Republican
proposal may include a provision to lower capital standards at Wall Street
banks, but nothing to help state, local, and tribal governments keep teachers
and firefighters and bus drivers on the job.
Senate Republicans managed to sneak
in nearly $2 billion in taxpayer funds for a new FBI building whose location
will increase the value of the Trump hotel and enrich the president and his
Yup. In this proposal, Senate
Republicans reward the president and his family’s business interests but not
our essential workers.
Perhaps worst of all, in the middle
of a pandemic, Senate Republicans and the White House want to give out-of-work
Americans a 30% pay cut.
If you’ve lost your job through no
fault of your own, and you can’t go back to work because the administration
bungled this crisis, Senate Republicans propose taking $1,600 out of your
pocket every single month.
Let me show my colleagues what New
Yorkers think of the Republican proposal: “Let' em Eat Cake, GOP Plan Slices
$600 Check, Rejects Aid To States.” Let them eat cake. That's what New Yorkers
think. That's what New Yorkers think. That's what Americans think. Let them eat
cake. Shame, shame on our Republican friends.
The cover of the New York Daily News
sums it up: “let them eat cake.” Let them eat cake sums up the Republican
proposal in response to the greatest economic crisis in seventy five years:
“let them eat cake.”
People can't feed their kids, people
are losing their homes, getting kicked out of their apartments. Small
businesses are going under. Republican response: let them eat cake.
Who are Republicans fighting for in
Tax breaks for three-martini lunches
but no food assistance for the poor?
Immunity for corporations but no
immunity for Americans facing eviction or foreclosure?
20-30 million unemployed Americans
and Republicans say: take a 30% pay cut.
Who are Republicans fighting for in
If you are a big bank, a defense
contractor, or a member of the Trump family, the Republican proposal has some
good news for you. But if you can barely afford the rent, can’t find work,
can’t feed your kids and are fighting for your family’s future, this Republican
plan leaves you out in the cold.
The consequences of the Republican
policy on unemployment alone would be disastrous. Those enhanced benefits have
kept 12 million Americans out of poverty. Those enhanced benefits are the one
bright spot in this declining economy, that consumer spending is going up now,
in large part because of pandemic unemployment insurance, as well as PPP.
One of the few things that's kept our
economy from deteriorating further is that these unemployment benefits have
boosted consumer spending. That’s why economists say the Republican
proposal would cost us over a million jobs this year, and 3.4 million jobs next
The Republican proposal is causing us
to lose even more jobs.
States have warned us the Republican
plan is virtually unworkable to boot. We called state unemployment offices
yesterday to ask them what would happen if the Republicans passed this new
scheme. One state office simply said “chaos, chaos.”
Office after office said it would
take weeks, weeks, months to even implement the new plan. And what are people
going to do during those weeks and months when they're not getting unemployment
This idea on the Republican side that
we have to slash unemployment benefits because otherwise Americans won’t go
back to work is greatly exaggerated. Americans want to work, are ready to work,
are desperate to get back to work.
Such little faith in the American
people. Such a bad outlook on human nature. People want to work, Republican
friends. They just don't have jobs to do it. We're not going to let them starve
while that happens.
God forbid we provide tens of
millions of unemployed Americans a lifeline until we can defeat this disease
and get our economy back on its feet, seems to be the Republican attitude. That
the Republicans seem to think the American people are a bunch of loafers. Well,
they are not.
Now, we Democrats want to get
something done. We are certainly frustrated with the dithering, the disunity,
and the lack of understanding of the depth of the crisis coming from the
Republican side. But that will not stop us.
We must press on with bipartisan
negotiations. Time is running out and we cannot afford to fail.
But the Republican new proposal is
not an adequate starting point. And history is repeating itself.
Each time we came together in the
past to pass COVID-2, COVID-3, COVID 3.5, it was because both parties sat down
with each other to negotiate and did the hard work.
But that was only after Republicans
dared us and put an inadequate proposal on the floor and said, we'll blame you.
We held firm. They came back. We negotiated a much better bill. My hope—my
belief—is that they will have to do that again.
Leader McConnell is in his Alice in
wonderland characterizations here on the floor. I can't believe them.
He keeps insisting that a “bipartisan
spirit” led to the CARES Act, but he conveniently skips over the part where he
dropped a partisan bill on the floor and Democrats had to insist on continuing
negotiating to make the bill better. There’s a lot of revisionist history going
on on the other side.
And this morning, Leader McConnell
continued with his Alice-in-Wonderland logic: suggesting that Democrats are
going to be the ones standing in the way of more relief.
Let’s not forget, Republicans
dithered for three months while Democrats pleaded for action on COVID.
Speaker Pelosi and I wrote to Leader
McConnell three weeks ago and said, let's sit down and talk. We didn't
hear a peep out of him.
And when they finally woke up to the
calamity in our country, they bickered amongst themselves for a week as the
country approached several cliffs (unemployment, evictions, state and local
government and more). And now that Republicans finally have a proposal, it’s
corporate focused, doesn’t meet the needs of the American people, and half of
their own caucus probably won’t support it anyway!
Leader McConnell a few minutes ago
said if Democrats don't want to negotiate a bill. I will remind the Leader:
last night, Chief of Staff Meadows, Secretary Mnuchin, Speaker Pelosi and I
were in the Speaker’s office negotiating. Why didn’t they bring Leader
McConnell along? Because Senate Republicans couldn’t get their act together and
produce a unified position.
So Leader McConnell, I have a
suggestion. Instead of blaming Democrats, how about Senate Republicans and
Leader McConnell get their act together, roll up their sleeves and actually get
to do real work and solve these problems.
Every time—every time—we’ve come to
pass critical relief, Democrats have forced our Republican colleagues and the
White House to come to the table and negotiate in a serious way. That’s what we
have to do again. We need bipartisan, bicameral negotiations to produce a
bill that actually meets the needs of the American people. We Democrats will
continue to do that.
Speaker Pelosi and I will be meeting
with Secretary Mnuchin and Chief of Staff Meadows again tonight in an effort to
try and get a bill because the needs of the American people, the American
economy, American health are so great. Let us come together and get something
done. America desperately needs our help.