Washington, D.C.—Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the need for representation for D.C. residents and condemned Senate Republicans’ reckless denigration of the working people of the District of Columbia as not “real people.” Senator Schumer also discussed President Trump’s disturbing focus on protecting the names of long-dead confederate generals confederate generals who fought against the United States in support of the preservation of the institution of slavery. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:
We have serious disagreements here in Congress. We trade impassioned words. Sometimes we get a little too hot under the collar. But there are times when we need to take a step back and really think about what we’re saying.
Yesterday, speaking in opposition to DC statehood, the junior Senator from Montana said that lawmakers should "go out to where the real people are across the country and ask them what they think."
“Go out to where the real people are.”
700,000 people live and work in the District of Columbia. 46% of them are Black. They hold jobs just like everyone else. They teach and deliver groceries, care for our sick, work at restaurants and churches. Many of them work here, in the Capitol, providing essential services to some Senators who obviously don’t consider them “real people.”
My friends on the other side would have you believe that every member of this city is a lobbyist or a defense contractor or a reporter. Not only is that comically false, but I don’t remember the part of the Constitution where it says that your rights as an American citizen only apply if Republican Senators approve of your line of work.
I’ve noticed that it’s become fashionable for elements of the political right to accuse Democrats of ignoring “real Americans.” It seems that the political right has a clear idea of which Americans are “real” and which Americans are not. When Republican Senators are outright dismissing the personhood of thousands of American citizens, most of whom are Black, it’s time for the political right to look in the mirror.
DC residents fulfill all the obligations of citizenship. They pay federal taxes. They can be summoned for jury duty. They have served in every war since the Revolutionary War. But they are denied real representation in Congress.
We can have a real conversation about statehood without denigrating or dehumanizing these citizens. But the far right is so afraid of losing political power—and so unwilling to appeal to anyone that doesn’t already agree with them—that their strategy has become: restrict voting rights and deny equal representation in Congress to hundreds of thousands of Americans.
Self-governance and equal representation aren’t Democratic issues or Republican issues. Voting rights shouldn’t be a Democratic issue or a Republican issue. These are issue of fairness, of equality. It’s not about Right or Left. It’s about right and wrong. For a minute on rules changes. I heard the Republican Leader come forward and decry any attempt to change the rules. He's not a good one to give advice. Leader McConnell has shown that he will change the rules when it suits his purposes and defend the rules when it suits his purposes. He is no icon standing in the way of any rules change. We all saw what happened in the last few years. So please, Leader McConnell, don't give us advice on rules changes when you are so inconsistent about which rules are okay to change and which rules are not.
Now, one final matter, on the President. Governing is a matter of priorities. In this moment of national crisis—as the COVID pandemic rages on, economic hardship deepens, and the centuries old struggle for racial justice is waged anew—our national priorities have never been clearer to everyone it seems, but President Trump.
This week has been one of the most out-of-touch weeks of an out-of-touch presidency.
As the citizens of ruby red Oklahoma voted to expand Medicaid, President Trump this week advanced his administration’s lawsuit to eliminate our health care law and Medicaid expansion along with it.
As protesters continue to march in the streets for racial justice, President Trump this week attacked a program designed to end racial segregation in housing.
As the state of Mississippi decided to take down the Confederate flag, President Trump this week threated to veto the National Defense bill—including a pay raise for our troops—in the name of protecting the Confederacy.
The President of the United States this week seemed more concerned with protecting the names of dead Confederate generals than doing anything to help living American citizens.
The President is so out of touch. It's as if he was dropped into the oval office from another planet, unaware and uncaring of anything going on around him, whether it is a resurgent COVID killing Americans, a faltering economy, a righteous movement for racial justice, or Putin’s malign actions endangering our troops, President Trump has the same reaction: stroke his own ego, then stick his head in the sand and do nothing.