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Schumer Floor Remarks on End of Year Priorities, Republican Tax Bill, and the Mueller investigation

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the end of year priorities, the Republican tax bill and the Mueller investigation. Below are his remarks which can also be viewed here:

Mr. President, the clock is ticking ever closer to the end of the year.

We still need to fund the government by Friday. We still need to lift the spending caps, equally for defense and urgent domestic priorities, like combatting the opioid crisis, improving health care for veterans, and building rural infrastructure. We must extend the FISA program, and shore up pension for over a million Americans.

We still need to reauthorize CHIP and end the sabotage of our healthcare markets. We’ve had a bipartisan deal on a stabilization package for months now. It’s a product that should have been easy to include in the year-end deal. After all, it’s the product of bipartisan negotiations between Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Murray, two of our most effective Senators. But now, because the Republicans are repealing the individual mandate in their tax bill, the Alexander-Murray deal won’t have its intended impact.

Even worse, Speaker Ryan has just said that the agreement won’t pass the House unless Hyde language is attached to it – another 11th hour, partisan demand on a bill that’s already been negotiated here in the Senate. What should have been an easy addition to the year-end package is getting more difficult by the hour because of Republican demands.

We still need to pass a disaster supplemental funding bill to aid storm-stricken parts of our country including California, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as Texas, Louisiana, and Florida. The disaster supplemental bill coming out of the House, while it has much better funding levels than the Administration’s proposal, still does not treat Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands fairly. It does not provide for cost-sharing waivers and it doesn’t include enough funding for resiliency, mitigation, Medicaid, or drinking water infrastructure. It’s a step in the right direction, but not good enough yet. And I’d reiterate my plea, Texas and the Texas Delegation have constantly criticized funding, government funding. All of a sudden, now that there’s a disaster they want money. Fine, but what about that ten billion dollar rainy day fund? Let Texas spend that. I guarantee you if it was in a Blue state, some of our friends in Texas would be calling for it. The very same people who opposed aide to Sandy. The very same people who have relished putting state and local deductibility in the bill, well what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Let Texas dip into its ten billion dollar fund before they get FEMA money. That’s what seems fair and right, particularly for those who don’t want to see federal government spending increase.

And of course, last, but certainly not least, we still need to protect the Dreamers – young people, who were brought to this country through no fault of their own, many whom know of no other country but ours. These are people who are in our armed forces, over 800. Going to our schools, working in our factories and offices and stores. They, like everybody else, like our ancestors, want to be Americans. They contribute to America, they help America. Yet, there are people on the other side of the aisle who have this nasty immigration attitude that affects the Dreamers and everybody else. It’s so un-American. It’s so against the statue with the torch, in the harbor, in the city in which I live. It’s so against what the American people believe. 80% want to help the Dreamers. And yet, we’re stymied so far. 1,000 Dreamers are losing their status each week.

So, on all these things the time to act is now. Bipartisan negotiations continue to seek a compromise to ensure DACA protections as well as provide additional border security – we Democrats are all for that. Real border security that makes a difference. We should strive to reach a deal as soon as humanly possible.

Mr. President, if we are not able to reach a global deal by this Friday on these many issues, there will be a temptation to do a short-term funding bill with some of these items but not others. That won’t work.

We should be doing all of these things together instead of in a piecemeal, week-by-week fashion. Our Republican friends cannot pick and choose what they want and do what they did on the tax bill, do what they did on the healthcare bill, say Democrats you’re not welcome to be part of the deal. Because this one isn’t under reconciliation. We want to work in a bi-partisan way but a bi-partisan way means just that. Not Republicans decide on their own and tell us, we should just be for it.  So the best and only way to get a good, bipartisan result – which, by Senate rules, is a necessity for spending bills is for us to work together.

Finally, I will have further comments on the Republican tax bill that I will deliver before the Senate votes on the conference report later tonight. But, I just want to say, this bill will be an anchor around the ankles of every Republican. It so helps the wealthy and the powerful corporations. It does so little and it even hurts many in the middle class. It’s a loser! CNN, new poll: majority of Americans against the tax bill, when did you ever hear that Americans are against a tax cut bill? Well, you’re hearing it now. And it’s because of Republican friends are listening to the thousand, greedy, greedy, multi-billionaires who want their taxes cut. Even though they’re doing great and don’t want to share those benefits with the middle class, even making millions of middle class people pay more. Republicans will rue the day that they passed this tax bill. Rue the day. Because it’s so unfair to the middle class. It so blows a hole in our deficit. It so threatens social security, Medicare, and Medicaid. They will rue the day.

Finally, Mr. President, on the Mueller investigation. We have a lot of business to get to this week, but because the topic is so important, I’d also like to address the investigation of Special Counsel Mueller into Russian interference in our elections and the potential involvement of the Trump Campaign.

Over the past several months, the investigation and the FBI have been the target of a smear campaign by Republicans in the media primarily, in a media outlet that is hardly regarded as down the middle. A media outlet that seems to just say how high when President Trump says jump but now it’s been joined also by Republicans here in Congress. Their intent is not to push back on the findings of the special counsel or introduce exculpatory evidence on behalf of Manafort, or Gates, or Papadapolous, or Flynn, who have been indicted or convicted. Their intent is not to make an argument about the substance of the investigation at all. Their intent is to discredit the investigator and the investigation itself, by falsely painting it as biased or partisan.                                                             

That way – whatever its findings at the end of the day – they have created a permission structure to dismiss them.

When you are afraid of the result, you attack the process. When you’re afraid of the message, you shoot the messenger. That’s what’s happening right now, with escalating rhetoric, in the right-wing echo media echo chambers. Fox News commentators have called Mr. Mueller’s investigation a “coup” – an outrageous charge that was repeated by a Republican congressman on the floor of the House. That’s how overblown the rhetoric has gotten.

Mr. Mueller is one of the most trusted and respected public servants in America. He has served Administrations of both parties, but he was first appointed by a Republican and was installed as special counsel by President Trump’s pick for Deputy Attorney General, Republican Rod Rosenstein. He’s as everyone in America knows, he’s as straight a shooter as they come. Impugning his motives and calling his investigation a “witch hunt” or a “coup” is frankly hysterical.

I regret even repeating those ridiculous comments because there is not a shred of evidence to back them up. Not a shred! If any of these critics had evidence, they’d pursue their claims in court. But of course, there is no evidence, so instead, they wage a warped campaign in the press fueled by an avalanche of trumped-up allegations and disinformation.

What are they so afraid of? Well we all know why.

The Special Counsel’s investigation is an important one for our democracy. We have to get to the bottom of what happened in last year’s election no matter who ends up on the short end of the stick when those results are announced. How was Russia able to wage a successful campaign to influence our election? And to what extent were any members of the Trump president campaign coordinating with that foreign attack on our democracy for political benefit? These are vital questions that every American should know. It’s an outright disgrace that our Republican colleagues haven’t joined in, in asking for this. So many of them being as partisan as could be. Putting their party over country because if Russia continues in these types of investigations, woe is America, woe is America.

Rather than this concerted campaign to sully the investigation and the FBI, President Trump and his allies should be encouraging them to do their job -- to do it right and do it thoroughly. The stakes are too high, and the topic is too serious.