Brooklyn, N.Y. –
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today joined CNN’s State of the
Union with Jake Tapper, and continued to call for Democrats’ $30 billion plan
for a comprehensive national testing strategy, improvements to small business
lending programs, and more funding for hospitals and state and local
governments in ongoing interim emergency relief negotiations. Below is a
transcript of the interview:
As Secretary Mnuchin and congressional leaders are negotiating a new stimulus
package, President Trump is attacking Senate Democrats' motives. Joining me
now, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York. Leader
Schumer, thank you so much. I know you’re here to talk about testing, and I want
to talk about that in one second, but I do want to talk about this funding for
small business loans, the program has run out of funding, as you know, because
of provisions Democrats want to add.
Karen Mills, the former head of the
Small Business Administration under President Obama, says Democrats just need
to go along and fund this program now, she says, quote, ‘Complexity is not our
friend here, things that have to be implemented quickly can't have a lot of
bells and whistles, or else there will be too many unintended consequences. One
of which is delay, and we don't have time to delay.’ What do you say to Karen
Well, I’d actually say the very things that we Democrats have been fighting for
are now going into the bill. If you had a connection with a bank, it was pretty
easy to get a loan. If you didn't, from one end of the country to the other, we
have been hearing that people can't get the loans. The local restaurant, the
local barbershop, the local drugstore, or even startup businesses,
manufacturing or services that aren't happening. So we Democrats say, yes, we
want to put more money in but let's set aside some money to make sure it goes
to the rural areas, to the minority areas, to the unbanked. And the $60 billion
for the disaster loan was our proposal and now the administration is going
along with that. Setting aside a good chunk of the money, about half of it, so
it goes to these unbanked people who don't have a connection with a bank or the
smaller ones, was our proposal, and it looks like it's going. So, to just put
$250 billion and leave out a large, large segment, I would say half of the
small business community, wouldn't have made sense. And now it's going to
happen because we Democrats said, ‘Let's get this done this way.’
So you agree with Treasury Secretary Mnuchin, that the deal could be done today
and voted on in the Senate tomorrow, the House on Tuesday, and then signed by
President Trump on Wednesday?
Well, Speaker Pelosi and I have had constant discussions with Secretary
Mnuchin. Our staffs are meeting 24/7. We've made very good progress. And I'm
very hopeful we could come to an agreement tonight or early tomorrow morning.
You know, you've got a lot of details, a lot of dotted I's and crossed T's. But
I am very, very hopeful. And as you heard, many of the things we have asked for
on the banking side, on the testing side, on the hospital side, they're going
along with. So we feel pretty good. We still have a few more issues to deal
Let's talk about the testing. You were on the call with Vice President Pence on
Friday when Senate Democrats grew increasingly frustrated with the
administration's testing response. Did you get any indication from the call that
the federal government has a coordinated plan to roll out testing and to make
sure governors know where all the tests are?
Okay. Well, let me talk about testing. Angus King, who is a mild-mannered Maine
guy, was very upset because the president said, ‘Now testing is up to the
states.’ They've been back and forth on this.
We Democrats proposed in this package
a $30 billion focused plan on testing. And we proposed three basic things:
Money to go into both manufacturing and supply chains, to bolster them quickly.
We've proposed that we make free testing far more widespread. If people avoid
testing because they can't afford it, that's not good for the country. And
third, we propose contact tracing. What we need here is the $30 billion and we
need the focus from the president. The governors of our two states who are most
impacted say they need federal help, they can't do the testing on their own.
You talk to the business community,
when Republican and Democratic senators were on with the president a few days
ago, the number one call was for more testing and more federal involvement in
the testing. You can't have it state by state. Let's say the swabs are made in
California, and the machine, the little chemicals, are made somewhere else. You
need the federal government to focus.
Thus far, I believe that the
president has not been focused enough on testing. That's what got Angus King so
upset. But I think there is huge pressure for him to do it. I urged him to use
the Defense Production Act to get this money out, the way we've talked, the $30
billion. But at least there ought to be one person appointed, in charge and
making sure there's a national focus and effort on testing.
I would say this, Jake. Testing is
the key. Every expert says it. Today's "New York Times," one of the
best experts says we only have about a third of the tests we need. We will not
be able to get the economy going full-fledged unless we have testing. And we
have examples: South Korea, I think they had a case, one day, the first case
was within a day of each other in the U.S. and South Korea, the first case. But
they did just what we're calling for. They did a massive increase in the number
of tests. They did contact tracing. And now South Korea is way over the hump. We
must do the same thing for the good of the health of America and the good of
And then just a couple of more
things. The money for small business, as I’ve said, we have four goals in the
bill. One, money for testing. Two, money for small businesses, we discussed
that. Three, money for hospitals. Our hospitals are in desperate shape. As the
Secretary said, they're not doing elective surgery. In my state, St. Peter's
laid off 700 people. In Albany, St. Joseph's laid off 700 people. In Syracuse.
Joe Manchin says his hospitals will go bankrupt. We need that. The third thing
we do need is what the Republican governors are calling for—money for state and
local governments. And this is not abstract.
Right, but that’s not going to be in there, you heard Secretary Mnuchin, he
said the funding is not going to be in this bill.
He says that. We are pushing hard. Well, they said 'til the last minute that it
wouldn't be in COVID 3, and we pushed for $150 billion and it got in. It is so
important. We don't want our police, our firefighters, our EMTs, our bus
drivers. This is not an abstract issue. We don't want them fired, they're as
important as anybody else. We're continuing to push hard for that in COVID 3.5.
So, let me ask you a question, because you're coming to us live this morning
from one of the epicenters of coronavirus in the world, New York. Democrats
have been very critical of how long it took President Trump to take serious
action in the fight against coronavirus. But Dr. Thomas Frieden, the former
head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, he told "The New
York Times," that if New York State and city had adopted social distancing
and physical distancing a week or two earlier the death toll in New York could
have been reduced by anywhere from 50 to 80%. Didn't New York politicians drop
the ball here too?
Well, look. I think our governor and our mayor have done a great job, and I
think most of America agrees. It's very hard when you don't have the federal
cooperation, when you have the president early on saying it's a hoax, or it
will go away, or don't worry about it, to get things done. I think our state
and our city have done a terrific, terrific job, given that we were the
San Francisco ordered schools closed on March 12th. Ohio did the
same with five confirmed cases. On March 15th, de Blasio ordered New
York City schools to close with 329 cases. A New York statewide stay-at-home
order was on March 20th, a day after California. You don’t think
more could have been done earlier? I mean, other states were taking action.
Look, again, we were the epicenter. There were so many things to do. Getting
ventilators, so people wouldn’t die was important, getting the PPE for health
care workers was important. There were many things that were very, very
important. And as I said, I think both Cuomo and de Blasio get very high marks
for how they've handled this.
Jake Tapper: I
want to ask you one other question, sir. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
this week did not rule out a possible 2022 primary run against you. Are you
confident you could beat her?
Look, throughout my career, I've done my job. I'm totally focused on this
COVID. We are the epicenter. And I found throughout my career, you do your job
well, everything else works out okay.
Jake Tapper: All
right. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, thank you, sir, for
your time. And I hope everyone in your world is safe and healthy. Thanks so
much for being with us.
Thank you, Jake, and stay healthy, too.