Schumer Floor Remarks on Gun Safety Reform, Action on Qualcomm Bid, and GOP House Intelligence Committee’s Decision to End Russia ProbeMarch 13, 2018
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today spoke on the Senate floor regarding gun safety reform, action on the Qualcomm bid, and the GOP House Intelligence Committee’s decision to end the Russia probe. Below are his remarks which can also be viewed Here:
Mr. President, let me thank my friend from Illinois. There has been no more passionate, effective, strong, and consistent voice for the Dreamers, for those beautiful young people who simply want to become Americans and contribute to America, than he has been, and he will never let this issue rest, nor will we. We are going to do everything we can to help the Dreamers. We just hope that President Trump finally sees it in his heart to actually get something done. We had a bipartisan agreement. It could have passed. It had some things we didn’t like, had some things the other side didn’t like, but President Trump, in one of the more inept acts in terms of legislating, just blew the whole deal. We’re going to keep to keep working, and I thank my colleague from Illinois.
Now on guns, Mr. President. As the Senate debates on the banking bill, Americans are wondering if the Republican Majority will ever move to take up the issue of gun safety.
Tomorrow, thousands of students across the country, awakened students, will participate in a nationwide walkout to demand action. At 10 a.m., in high schools from one end of America to the other, students will walk out for 17 minutes in honor of the 17 who gave their lives at Stoneman Douglas High School in solidarity. But they’re not going to stop there. They’re going to keep working and working and working until we get something done. When the students walk out, what will this Senate, what will this Congress, what will our Republican friends be able to say? Nothing, because we will have done nothing in that time to address gun safety in a meaningful way?
The unfortunate reality is that it seems there is too little courage in the White House to take on the NRA. After sounding the right notes when the cameras were on, President Trump backed away from everything but that the NRA gives rubber stamp approval to. The president, on the issue of age, I believe it was, criticized Toomey at this televised meeting said not to be afraid of the NRA, and he said he wasn’t. And what does the President do? He doesn’t show 1/100th of the courage that Senator Toomey showed on guns. Senator Toomey and I don’t agree on much, and I would have gone further on the checks bill, but he had the courage to buck the NRA. President Trump, you have no courage to buck the NRA. You talk a good game, and when it comes to action, you’re afraid to do anything, anything that gets the NRA upset. The NRA is so far away from where America is. Over 90% of America wants background checks, the NRA and Trump don’t. A huge percentage, over 80% of gun owners want background checks, comprehensive, universal background checks, President Trump and the NRA don’t. The majority of Americans want protective orders, so if a family member or a teacher sees a young person acting like they are angry or upset and might do damage, the gun could be temporarily taken away. Most Americans want that, President Trump and the NRA don’t. Neither do our Republican friends here. And the vast majority of Americans would like a debate on assault weapons, or certainly the majority, President Trump and the NRA and our Republican majority don’t.
So, Mr. President, why don’t you retract what you said to Senator Toomey? Why don’t you admit that he had more courage than you? Why don’t you say that you’re afraid of the NRA? Because that’s what’s really going on here. And no one is going to be taken by the TV camera with nice words and back off on everything and, of course, the plan was released on Sunday night. They thought hopefully it would get no news coverage, but it is in the news.
Unfortunately, too many Republicans here on the Hill, not Toomey, but too many Republicans here on the Hill are in the same boat as President Trump. They want to appear as though they’re doing something for gun safety but are only willing to support the smallest-bore policies that the NRA gives the green light to. They say, okay, let’s do these small things first, maybe we’ll do more later.
We know the game here. Everyone sees what’s going on. My friends on other side don’t dare support anything that the NRA opposes even though the vast majority of Americans want them to. So our Republican friends hope we pass something tiny, something small, so they can clap their hands and say they did something on gun violence and move on. The day they want to do something meaningful on gun safety never seems to come.
My friend the Senator from Texas he’s a good friend of mine
, We banter in the gym every morning – almost every morning. I’ve worked with him on a number of issues, – but he comes to the floor every day and says, let’s do the small Fix NICS bill, and then we’ll see about other proposals. He knows, as well as I do, that Fix NICS is not even close enough of a response to the epidemic of gun violence in this country. He knows, as well as I do, that the NRA is okay with Fix NICS, but not universal background checks. Fix NICS only approves of reporting within the existing background check system. The big loopholes that allow so many bad people, felons, those who are adjudicated mentally ill to get guns, the online loophole, they are not touched by Fix NICS. I say to my good friend from Texas, the senior Senator from Texas: when you’re a doctor and you’re sewing up a wound, you don’t just do the first stitch and then walk away and say, “We did something.” No -- you’ve got to do the real job to cure the injury.
So I appreciate that my friend from Texas wants to pass his bill. Democrats support it. I’m a cosponsor. But as a response to the spree of shootings in our schools and on our streets, and churches and movie theaters, nightclubs, concerts, street corners every evening, a bill to repair just one tiny little aspect of the background check system is not sufficient. A policy, an attitude that says we cannot offend the NRA on anything will never, never, never, never, help ameliorate our problem of gun violence to a sufficient extent.
As my colleague Sen. Murphy, Senator Cornyn’s coauthor on Fix NICS, has said: “If we were to only debate the Fix NICS Act, we would be slamming the door in the face of all of these kids who are demanding change.”
He said it perfectly. Democrats are fighting to make sure that Fix NICS isn't our only response. I hope, I pray my Republican colleagues will find the courage to go beyond what the gun lobby tells them is ok and work with Democrats on real, significant gun safety legislation.
Now, on another matter. This is a happy moment because many Democrats, certainly me, agree with the Trump Administration when they blocked a proposed bid by –Broadcom to purchase the San Diego-based Qualcomm on national security grounds. Let me say unequivocally – President Trump and his administration made the right decision on blocking Broadcom from taking over Qualcomm.
We all know that China has been rapacious about trade, and very smart. They look for places where they can steal our best technology. They develop it there in China and keep us out of their markets, and then try to flood the world with their product, sometimes dumping them. China has been rapacious – rapacious about trade, and, frankly, neither the Bush administration nor the Obama administration did enough in my opinion. President Trump has a much better attitude.
One particular area of concern is how frequently foreign companies have sought controlling stakes in the cutting-edge technology companies, like Qualcomm. Qualcomm has done a great job, and they are leading the world in developing the 5-G system. We need to preserve that as American because it has security concerns, both economic and national security. As China seeks our dominance in the semiconductor and wireless industries, the United States must be wary of attempts to acquire US leaders in those industries. A foreign-controlled Qualcomm, I don’t know the links between Broadcom and China, I suspect there may be some, but China could move to take it over. And puff, the dominance we would seek in 5-G, the technology we developed here, would go away. It is a national security concern, and an economic security concern. We Democrats believe that the CFIUS model should extend not to just national security, but economic security. When China attempts to steal our best technology by buying American companies, whether its robotics or A.I., or chips, or Qualcomm, we ought to block it. China doesn’t play fair.
Now, “lifetime President” Xi hopes to dominate the crown jewel of America’s industries -- the tech industries and others, where we dominate because we have been so good, because we take in immigrants, Mr. President, from around the world and they help develop these things. And we have to be wary of China – wary of China. President Trump, to his credit, is more wary of China than the past five or six administrations, and I’m glad they are. I’m glad they are. It’s almost too late, but it’s not yet
It is no secret that President Trump and I share similar feelings on the issue of trade, particularly when it concerns China. Often, I’ve been critical of this Administration, like I have been of previous administrations, when it fails to follow through on the President’s rhetoric or misdirects its policies.
The recent steel and aluminum tariffs are an example of how the administration has the right instinct but bad execution. Tariffs, properly calibrated, could be an effective tool to rein in China. And China certainly dumps, and sought dominance in the steel and aluminum industries. But instead of targeting heavily subsidized Chinese steel and aluminum, the President put in place across-the-board tariffs that will hurt many of our domestic industries – there was an article today about a Missouri ball-bearing company that doesn’t know where it’s going to get its steel from -- and allies like Canada. Canada makes its own steel and aluminum. We have a trade surplus with Canada. Putting Canada in the same boat as China is a huge mistake. And that’s why these tariffs – I support the thrust of them – should have been more selectively targeted.
Finally, on Russia. So, we all know that the Republican Majority on the House Intelligence Committee has ended its investigation into foreign interference in the 2016 elections. The House Republican Majority on the Intelligence Committee has so discredited itself.
The report makes several assertions that are contradicted by already-known facts.
It says that Russia had no preference for Donald Trump in the 2016 election.
But remember, it’s not just the Intelligence Community’s assessment that the Russians were trying to elect Trump -- an independent grand jury, non-political, in the Special Counsel's investigation concluded the same thing on the basis of evidence independently acquired and presented by the Special Counsel.
By saying they disagree with the Intelligence Community’s assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 election to help Trump, Speaker Ryan, and Chairman Nunes are closer to Putin’s view than the view of the CIA, the NSA, and the DNI; people in the administration
It seems that there are no lengths that Chairman Nunes and Speaker Ryan will not go to protect the White House, even when it damages security. After Chairman Nunes’ midnight run to the White House, his partisan memo, fake scandals about unmasking and FBI text messages, no one should take this report seriously. And I would say that to the vast majority of Americans, Chairman Nunes has discredited himself. He’s much more a partisan operative than a representative helping America be secure. The House Republican Majority has never taken this investigation seriously.
The House Republican Majority has never taken this investigation seriously. From the very beginning, they have sought to distract and kick up dust. They have shown – time and time again – that they are willing to put party before country, something our founding fathers warned us against. They are willing to twist facts and ignore evidence about a foreign power attacking our democracy because it might cause political damage to the president.
It’s a shocking
, shameful abdication of duty. Chairman Nunes, you and your committee, in my judgement, have made a shocking abdication of duty to America. A Congressional party that is wholly subservient to the political interests of the president is failing – fundamentally – to fulfill its constitutional obligation. Congress is supposed to be a separate, equal branch of government with the power – read the Constitution, read the Federalist Papers. One of the main purposes of Congress was to check the power of the executive branch. Our founding fathers feared an overreaching executive branch, as I know my friend from Nebraska knows because he studies these things. And that responsibility doesn’t fall on only one party. It falls on all of us.
That’s why there has been a history of bipartisanship and cooperation on the intelligence committees, where the vital interests of the nation are at stake. That’s been through the years. Until Chairman Nunes seemed to get a hold of this, that tradition has been discarded by House Republicans on the Intelligence Committee through this embarrassing episode that will historically go down as one of the lowest moments of any committee’s actions in Congress. So let me say pointedly to my colleagues: The Senate Intelligence Committee has been quite different from the House Committee. I salute both Chairman Burr and Ranking Member Warner for trying to run things in a different way. Let us hope that the Senate Intelligence Committee does not go the way of the House, and continues in its bipartisan cooperation to get to the bottom of this mess.
And that’s because, Mr. Chairman, we have a responsibility to get to the very bottom of what happened in 2016 and to report on those findings in an unbiased way. If the House isn't going to do it, the Senate must. I yield the floor.