Washington, D.C. — Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today at a joint press conference with Speaker Pelosi discussed the emergency coronavirus relief agreement. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:
Thank you Speaker Pelosi, and thank you for your steadfastness in focusing on the working families of America and their needs.
While this bill is far from perfect – nor is it the bill that we would pass if Democrats had a majority in the Senate – it is a strong shot in the arm to help American families weather the storm.
For the 20 million people who would lose unemployment benefits the day after Christmas: help is on the way.
To the millions of small business owners who are worried their businesses would go under: help is on the way.
To families struggling with less money: direct payments means help is on the way.
To people who might have been evicted from their homes, because they didn't have a job and couldn't afford it: help is on the way.
To those who need food, because they have no money because of the pandemic: help is on the way.
And to all of America who wants to make sure that the vaccine is distributed free and fairly and quickly: help is on the way.
So this bill is certainly not everything we wanted. Our Republican friends stood in the way of so much. But it is a strong, strong shot in the arm to get things going.
We all know that President Trump has made the economy a mess by how he treated the pandemic.
We all know that President Biden is entering his presidency in an economic deep hole caused by President Trump. This bill helps him begin to get out of that hole.
It is $900 billion – that is the second largest stimulus amount of dollars that has ever gone into the economy, the first being the CARES bill, which we negotiated with Secretary Mnuchin. So it is a lot of money; unfortunately, the troubles are so deep, the abyss is so long that we need more.
And this is just the first step, this is an emergency. We need a second bill to continue dealing with the emergency and to start stimulating our economy so we get back to where we were.
That will be job number one in the new Biden administration. And whether we have the majority in the Senate or the minority we Democrats that are going to push like anything to get a bigger, stronger bill. This bill is a good bill. Tonight is a good night. But it is not the end of the story. It is not the end of the job.
Anyone who thinks this bill is enough does not know what's going on in America, does not look into the eyes of a small business owner who's losing his business.
There are a lot of things in this bill that help New York.
I'm very proud of the mass transit provisions. I’m very proud of the Save our Stages provisions. And when it comes to state and local, even though the Republicans were relentless against it, we found other ways to aid the states. So the states will get at least some of the aid they need; the localities and the tribes will get some of the aid they need.
But the Republican relentlessness against state aid is just befuddling. Why is it any different when someone who works for the local government loses his or her job and can't feed their kids or someone from a small business loses it? They're all for helping the small businesses – so are we, because they employ people. But what's the difference between that and state and local governments where people are also losing their jobs and can't feed their families? Ideology gets in the way.
But this bill gives us hope and confidence that we can do more. And we will do more. We must do more.
And when we come back in January that will be job number one: to fill in the gaps, the many gaps, left by this bill, and to make sure that this bill, a strong measure, does the job by making sure it gets the money to the people, as it was intended.