Schumer Floor Remarks On Senate Republicans Jamming Through A Supreme Court Nominee Who Will Take Away Americans’ Health Care While Ignoring The Needs Of The American People Struggling Through The Worsening Coronavirus Pandemic

October 24, 2020

Washington, D.C. — Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor about Senate Republicans ramming through a Supreme Court Justice days before a presidential election and after 50 million Americans have already voted while ignoring essential legislation that would help American families struggling due to the pandemic. He also asked his Republican colleagues to allow this critical legislation to come to the floor for debate. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

I just heard the Republican Leader say there is no inconsistency between what they are doing now, with Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination, and what they did with Merrick Garland in 2016.

Who would believe that? The contradiction is glaring. The contradiction will be a stain on the Leader’s forehead, and on the entire Republican caucus if it continues.

We just heard another warped, distorted, and convoluted history lesson from Leader McConnell. We know how defensive he is about the blatant, 180-degree hypocritical turn he has made on Supreme Court nominations. But a distorted, warped history lesson will not remove the stain. Only one thing will, Leader McConnell: withdraw the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett until after the election. Plain and simple.

Now, we meet here on a rare Saturday session because there is nothing, nothing, remotely normal about the Republican drive to confirm Judge Barrett to the Supreme Court only days before a presidential election.

Four years ago, the entire Republican Senate said it was a “principle” – that was their word, “principle” – that Supreme Court Justices should not be confirmed in presidential election years. Leader McConnell said: “The American people deserve a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice.” That is the principle they insisted the Senate must follow. And they declared that this principle bound the Senate not to consider the nomination of Judge Garland, even though it was eight months before the presidential election of 2016.

Well, here we are today, just a few days away from another presidential election. More than fifty— fifty—million Americans have already voted. That number will only increase between today and Monday, the date of Judge Barrett’s confirmation vote.

Americans are waiting in line, now, patiently, at early voting locations around to country to cast their ballots—in Arizona and North Carolina, Maine and Colorado, in Iowa and Kansas and Georgia, Alaska and Kentucky, in 26 states where early voting centers are open and another 15 states where early votes can be dropped off at local election offices, and in my home state of New York, where today marks the first day of early voting.

It may look a little different this year. The lines are longer, not just because of enthusiasm but also because they’re more socially distant. Everyone should be wearing a mask. But as we speak, millions of Americans are using their voices to say who they want to select Supreme Court Justices.

At the same time, the Republican majority in the Senate is ramming through the lifetime appointment of a Justice who will make hugely impactful decisions about their lives and freedoms.

And Leader McConnell has the temerity to say there is no contradiction between Merrick Garland, and how they treated him, and Amy Coney Barrett, and how they’re treating her? Give me a break.

Our colleagues are saying to the American people: You get no say. You get no choice.

Four years ago, when a Democratic president nominated a Justice, Republicans professed to care about giving the American people a voice. Not so now. Not when a Republican-nominated Justice is on the line. Not when their own political power is at stake.

What became of that high-minded principle Republican Senators embraced so fervently, in somber tones, just four years ago --when Leader McConnell and they told the nation the Senate must heed the voices of American people when they vote? Where on earth did that principle go? What principles govern their current mad rush to confirm another Trump Justice eight days before this presidential election? 

If this process has revealed anything, it’s that the supposed Republican “principle” was a farce: no principle at all, and never was. Only naked opportunism. A transparent, cynical, last-ditch grab for power. And of course, the continuation of their shameful, lock-step subservience to President Trump, the most unprincipled president in American history.

This will go down as the most partisan, most hypocritical, and least legitimate Supreme Court confirmation in our nation’s history. And once again Leader McConnell: when you talk about history, a distorted, one-sided view that’s all you give. It doesn’t erase what you have done. It stares the American people in the face. They know it, we know it, we all know it, and history will know it. It’s a very dark moment for the Senate, and I am ashamed that Republicans are going along with this.

This, again, will be the most partisan, most hypocritical, and least legitimate Supreme Court confirmation in our nation’s history.

And now let’s look at the status of our country, it’s even less justified in light of that.

We had a record number of COVID infections yesterday. Let me repeat – a record number. Are Senate Republicans doing anything about that? No. 

This is not a regional crisis like before, these spikes are now widespread across the whole country, putting all of our nation at risk. In fact, in per capita terms, I believe North and South Dakota are the highest in the nation. I read this morning that beds are running out. And we’re not doing a thing!

In the past month, there has been a 35% increase in the number of Americans hospitalized with Covid.

Covid is now the third leading cause of death in the United States. In countries like Germany, and Japan and Australia, Covid isn’t even close to the top 10.

Experts, like Dr. Fauci, are projecting that we could hit 400,000 American deaths this year, and that the darkest and worst days of this pandemic, unfortunately, are ahead of us, not behind us.

The next huge wave in this pandemic is not looming – it is here. We cannot to afford to wait. But are Republicans doing anything about it? No.

There are tens of millions of Americans out of work, businesses are failing every day. Are Senate Republicans doing anything about that? No.

There are foreign powers – particularly Russia trying to undermine our elections. Are Republicans doing anything about that? No.

They are too focused on implementing their deeply unpopular agenda through the courts. Because they know they could never get it through the Senate, most of them wouldn’t even vote for it.

Today, we’re going to give the Republican majority in the Senate the opportunity to consider critical legislation that has so far languished in Leader McConnell’s legislative graveyard. Many bills that are just sitting here awaiting action, that were passed in the House. Many with bipartisan support are sitting waiting for Senate action. We should be doing that, not rushing through this nomination while people are voting, and want their choice listened to, not the Republican Senate choice.  

So we’re going to start with comprehensive legislation that addresses the most serious problems facing America right now – the Heroes Act, which would deliver urgent and necessary relief to a nation, and a people, who are suffering.

The Heroes Act would have a comprehensive regime for testing and tracing, $75 billion, the money that is needed that this administration never gave. In fact, there’s $9 billion sitting there from what we approved months ago, in the CARES Act, that they haven’t even given out yet, in so incompetent are they.

I saw Donald Trump in the debate. He says, “oh, yeah, it’ll go away.” He’s been saying that since January. That’s why people know he is an incompetent president during the most difficult of times. And yet he still says it. We need that money.

We need money to open up our schools safely and soundly. That takes extra money. The school districts can’t afford it. Ventilation, more buses, PPE, oftentimes more teachers, hotspots so people can get the wifi when they don’t have it in their own homes—and so many more that’s in the bill.

Money to prevent people from being evicted from their houses. They lost their jobs through no fault of their own. They’re getting kicked out, either as a renter or as a mortgager. The Heroes Act deals with that.

Money to help our small businesses, and not just a few, but the restaurants, the stages, the venues, the broadcasters and newspapers, and nonprofits, and rural hospitals—all left out in the Republican proposal, are in the Heroes bill.

Money for unemployment. The $600 pandemic unemployment kept 10 million people out of poverty. It pumps money into the economy as well as giving people who are not wealthy at all an ability to get by. That’s in the Heroes bill.

And there is so much more. Money to make sure our elections are guarded and safe. Provisions that allow the Census to be counted in a fair way. All of that is in the Heroes bill. The American people so much want us to pass it, but Leader McConnell will not even put it on the floor for a debate.

If Leader McConnell and his Republican majority had an ounce of concern for average American families, they would halt this sham Supreme Court process and join us in taking up the critical pieces of legislation which my colleagues and I will be putting on the floor all afternoon.

In each case, we’re not asking the Senate to pass it. We’re simply asking them to debate it. We’re asking them to overrule Leader McConnell, and put these bills on the floor, and let there be a debate, and let there be amendments. That’s all we ask during the most desperate, desperate of times.

All we ask is the ability to debate something that really matters to the American people, instead of rushing through a judge, Supreme Court nominee, when the American people want the decision made by them, not by Republican Senators. Not when [the Judge’s] views only represent an extreme minority of the American people, her views on the key issues.

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