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TRANSCRIPT: On MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer Discusses His SAFE Innovation Framework for AI

Washington, D.C.  Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) joined MSNBC’s Morning Joe to discuss his SAFE Innovation Framework for AI and the success of recent legislative initiatives passed by Senate Democrats. Below is a transcript of the interview.

Joe Scarborough: Let's bring in Democratic Senator from New York, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Mr. Majority Leader, thank you so much for being with us. How do you govern with such unserious people in the House?

Schumer: Well, I think the contrast, Joe, Mika, the contrast is so apparent. They're in charge in the House and they seem to be in a frenzy of who can be the craziest, who can move the hardest right, who can impeach this one or that one or this one? Look at what we’ve done when the House was Democratic and the Senate was Democratic. We passed record amounts of legislation, dealing with the problem of gun safety; helping our veterans; the largest bill that helped clean up the atmosphere ever; reducing the cost of prescription drugs; bringing jobs back to America. The contrast is just amazing. We want to help the American people. They seem to be in an echo chamber, just talking to one another about who can be the craziest; one says something really outlandish, someone else wants to do them one better. This is not what the American people want. I think most people are looking with incredulity at what the Republican House is doing.

Scarborough: On this program time and again we do talk about, and I'm sure you would agree with me, a difference between Republicans in the House and a lot of your colleagues in the Senate, who, a lot of them, not all them, but a lot of them act far more responsibly and don't chase conspiracy theories the way House members do. But I would be remiss if I didn't bring up Chuck Grassley, a guy who’s been there longer than I think any other Republican. Chuck Grassley, admitting that they're searching for documents and papers to prove that somehow Joe Biden is part of a crime syndicate, and then when pushed on TV admits he doesn't care whether Biden is guilty of anything or not. He doesn’t care if there’s wrongdoing or not. They’re still going to go after him because they want his poll numbers to drop, according to Comer.

Schumer: Yeah, well, let's do look at the good side. Of all those bills we passed, of the eight major bills we passed, seven were bipartisan. Yesterday, I announced a major, major effort to deal with AI. It's bipartisan. The four leaders and myself and Senator Heinrich, he’s a Democrat, Senators Young and Rounds, they’re Republicans, we're doing that in a bipartisan way. And there are some people in the Senate who almost are in sync with some of these House people who are way out there. But, there are a good number of Republican Senators who want to legislate. They may not agree with us on every issue, but they're willing to come together. And when it comes to AI, that is something we have to do in a bipartisan way. Every one of these stories is important, but in the long-term effect on the American people and on the world, AI, which has tremendous, tremendous promise, but tremendous, tremendous danger as well, has to be looked at. And let me say this about that, Joe, Mika – if the government doesn't get involved, we're lost. Then China will get ahead of us in this area and set AI and their algorithms in a very autocratic way focusing on facial recognition and surveilling people. And even here in America, if the government doesn't get involved, there will be no guardrails. We have to have guardrails. We need to innovate. We need to stay the leader in innovation. America has always done that, and in AI, fortunately we are ahead of the Chinese and others, but there have to be guardrails to protect against bad people using this, to make sure that it doesn't deal with sort of racism and stereotypes. To make sure that people's intellectual property, which the AI system would use, is protected. There's so much that we have to do and I love the contrast between what we're doing in a bipartisan way, getting our arms around this, such an important subject, a difficult one, but an important one, and the Republicans in the House, just in a frenzy.

Jonathan Lemire:  Mr. Majority Leader, good morning. It's Jonathan Lemire. Let's go a little further on the AI thing. One of the challenges though, tell us how you plan to approach, is AI, which has so much promise, but also potentially so much danger, is evolving so rapidly, by the day there seems to be leaps and bounds. So how do you regulate? How do you come up with legislation to create this framework for something that’s so hard to get your arms around, that could be changing by the moment?

Schumer: So I've called for, first, a framework, which we called SAFE Innovation, focus on innovation, but make it safe. That's Security, Accountability, our Democratic Foundations and something called Explainability, so when the AI system spits out something, you know where it comes from. You don’t have to know the whole algorithm, you know where it comes from. But we also, in reference to your question, Jonathan, we've come up with a new process which we call Insight Forums. Starting in September, we're going to bring all of the experts with contrasting views around nine different issues in AI and have them meet and discuss and go back and forth and guide us in what can be the right solutions. And we have to move; we can't move so fast like some of the EU and Europeans did that you miss the boat, but you can't move so slowly that it gets ahead of us. So, if I had to give a time table when we'll come up with our proposal, will not be years from now, will not be days or weeks from now, will be months from now. That seems to be the appropriate timeline.

Mika Brzezinski: Senator Schumer, I want to move to abortion. We're coming up on the year anniversary, if we can believe it, of Roe being overturned. Senate Democrats are planning a big push to try and help women with this issue. What can be done especially for women in states with these really tight restrictions and six-week bans?

Schumer: Yeah, I mean, it's amazing what Governor DeSantis did in Florida, a six-week ban. Many women don't even know they're pregnant after six weeks. It's cruel, it’s just cruel and so demeaning to women and women's health and women's right to protect their own bodies. And they're doing all kinds of crazy things in so many states, and lots of the Republican Senators and Congressmen want to do the same, prosecuting people who help people across state lines so they can have their right to choose in states that are allowed. Trying to ban mifepristone, the medication that allows abortion, even in states that might not want to allow it. They’re going way off the deep end. We Democrats believe this is an issue where we're right. It’s the right thing to do; it's the moral thing to do. A MAGA, MAGA, extreme right group on the Supreme Court took that right away. But the contrast of Republicans and Democrats is enormous. And this week, led by many of our Senators, we're going to the floor and we’re challenging the Republicans on legislation that would keep mifepristone legal. That would not ban people from going across state lines, dealing with a women’s right to privacy and her records. And we hope maybe some of our Republican colleagues would join us. But in the past they have not. The Republican party is for a national abortion ban. They're not even content with what the Roe v. Wade repeal did when the Supreme Court did it. But this is an issue we are going to keep front and center because the American people are on our side. And I believe this Mika, deep in my heart, that if we keep at it, if we make sure this issue stays on the front burner, we will win because the American people are on our side and we will prevail and restore a woman's right to choose.

Susan Page: Mr. Leader, this is Susan Page. I just wonder what you think the prospects are for passing anything in this Congress for the rest of the session? The Republican-controlled House and Democratic-controlled Senate did manage to raise the debt ceiling without too much drama. I wonder if what we're seeing on the House floor yesterday is a preview of what is to come over the next year and a half. What are the odds that significant legislation gets through the two Houses and to the President's desk?

Schumer: Well, it's hard because of the craziness in the House and because Speaker Kevin McCarthy seems to always be almost bowing in obeisance to these hard-right people who are so far away from where the American people are. But in the Senate, as Joe mentioned earlier, we do have Republicans we can work with. So, here are some of the things we’re going to try and get done in the Senate with bipartisan support. Most of the things need bipartisan support, 60 votes, and then we think it will put pressure on the House. One example, as you know, last year we were able to cap the cost of insulin at $35 for senior citizens on Medicare. We got seven Republican votes, not enough, when we tried to do it for everyone else. But now there are bipartisan proposals, Senator Grassley is involved, Senator Cassidy is involved, of course Senator Collins who’s been a leader on this, has been involved as well. We're trying to come up with a proposal that would cap insulin at $35. There's a proposal that has bipartisan support about claw backs, these bankers who so, so misran their banks and have cost the American taxpayers and the Federal Reserve so much money. There should be claw backs. We should get the money back. A bipartisan bill just passed yesterday led by Senator Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio, and Senator Tim Scott, Republican of South Carolina. So, we're trying to focus on things where we can get our Republican Senators to join us, that the American people want, and then we think there will be pressure on the House. The quiet voice, here, they’ve been quiet as a mouse, are the more mainstream Republicans who seem to be letting the hard right run the Republican show. But our hope is that if the Senate can come together on a bipartisan basis on important pieces of legislation, that then the House will feel the pressure, particularly maybe some of the more mainstream Republicans. There are no moderate Republicans left anymore but let's call them mainstream, some of those mainstream Republicans will get a little courage, speak up and tell McCarthy we have to do some things for the American people instead of all this craziness that’s going on over there.

Brzezinski:  It’s really crazy. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, thank you very much for being on this morning. It’s good to see you, sir.