Schumer Floor Remarks On Republicans’ Failure To Condemn President Trump’s Statements Insulting Democratic Congresswomen

July 15, 2019

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today spoke on the Senate floor regarding Republicans’ failure to condemn President Trump’s statements insulting Democratic Congresswomen. Below are his remarks, which can also be found here.

Well Mr. President, over the weekend, President Trump launched a series of insults at Democratic congresswomen, suggesting they “go back” to the countries they came from, despite the fact that three of the four were born in the United States and that citizenship in America, by birth or naturalization, is inherently equal.

These lawmakers are women of color. Telling them to “go back” to their counties is one of the oldest and crudest tropes to malign non-white Americans. The president’s comments drip with racism.

We don’t know why the president woke up on Saturday and made these comments. Perhaps to distract from his administration’s barbaric immigration policy which rips children away from their parents—even little children. Perhaps to distract from the humanitarian crisis he has exacerbated at our border. And perhaps to distract from his planned-but-not-really-executed deportation raids, which many in his own bureaucracy do not want to carry out and feel are difficult to carry out in a fair way because they can’t be done fairly. Perhaps it’s even to distract from his administration’s attempt to dismantle our health care system through the courts. But maybe the president just feels comfortable stoking racial divisions in this country. Maybe that’s his milieu.

After all, this is part of the pattern of behavior that began with his “birther” treatment of President Obama and his characterization of Mexicans in his announcement speech; continued with his attack on an American-born judge of Mexican decent, his proposed Muslim ban and response to Charlottesville; and includes comments about Caribbean and African nations that cannot be repeated here on the floor of the Senate.

Whatever the reason; whatever the motivation—the president’s comments demand condemnation from all corners of the political spectrum—all corners. But it’s become frighteningly common for many of my Republican colleagues to let these moments sail by without saying even a word. Republican leadership—especially—rarely criticizes the president directly even in a situation like this that so clearly merits it.

So I’m left to wonder if the silence of many Republicans in the wake of President Trump’s xenophobic tweets is out of embarrassment, or agreement. Embarrassment or agreement. Both are inexcusable.

Some of my Republican colleagues are hoping that the president realizes the error of his ways, they say, disavows or deletes his tweets from yesterday. But the president just walked out of the White House a few hours ago and doubled down on his racist comments. My Republican friends, he’s not backing off. Where are you when something this serious, this bigoted, this un-American happens? If you’re saying to yourselves ‘well he got us our big tax cut, well he’s taking regulations big corporations, well he pulled out of the Paris Accords.’ We have to go along with this racism? You’re making a deal with the devil. It’s so wrong, so wrong.

The President of the United States is supposed to bring our country together. It’s clear that this president won’t, doesn’t want to, and revels in dividing us. No American president has resorted to open and bald-faced bigotry so often. President Trump’s goal, sadly, is not to unite, but to divide. That’s how he’s climbed the ladder politically, and it’s just awful.

So it is incumbent on all of us—Democrat and Republican—to call him out when he does this, and remind the president and the country what America truly stands for. Anything short of that is insufficient and is un-American.

It could be argued that Republicans who fail to do so—because of shame, because they’re afraid of offending the president’s supporters, because they’re afraid of the president, or worse, because they agree with the president—those who fail to condemn the president are fellow travelers on the president’s racist road, whatever their motivation. 

Speaker Pelosi has said that the House will introduce a resolution denouncing the president’s comments. Our intention is to do the same in the Senate. We’ll see—we’ll just see—how many Republicans will sign on.