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Schumer Floor Remarks On The Bipartisan Appropriations Process, Family Separation, And The GOP Tax Scam

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the ongoing bipartisan appropriations process, family separation, and the effects of the GOP tax scam. Below are his remarks which can also be viewed here:

Madame President, first on appropriations, the Senate is continuing the process and I want to thank Chairman Shelby, Ranking Member Leahy, Leader McConnell for their work in moving this process forward. It has been a long time since the Senate has successfully processed appropriations through the regular order. It requires cooperation on the committee, cooperation among the committee staff, and cooperation here on the floor with the two leaders and that is happening.

If we’re looking to work in a bipartisan way, this is probably the best sprout of bipartisanship that has bloomed in a long time in this body. The fact that the parties are working together to prevent non-germane amendments that are intended to just create ruckus, the fact that even germane amendments that are regarded as poison pills are not being added to the bills here in the Senate, really bodes well for cooperation.

I wish it were the same in the House where it’s strictly a partisan process, but the fact that the Senate is working together on appropriations bodes well for future legislation including one farm bill that some people have an interest in in this body – many of us actually, including of course the senior senator from the great state of Kansas. So, this appropriations process, I hope it can continue this way: bipartisan, knocking out poison pill amendments, sticking together, and getting a good bill done. And the fact that yesterday, I think there were just, how many votes, just a handful of votes, against the first minibus of three of the appropriation committee bills bodes well for the future.

I would also caution to say that maybe some extraneous forces, some maybe down the other side of Pennsylvania Avenue who might want to blow this whole thing up, if we stick together we can make this happen in a good way for the good of the country in terms of specific bills, in terms of bringing us back together again to get things done. So that’s the optimistic note of the morning. Maybe we’ll have more.

On immigration in the past few weeks, not so optimistic. The Trump administration has created a humanitarian crisis at our southern border through its cruel family separation policy. An executive order signed by the president last week has barely undone the damage, largely leaves the original policy intact, and raises a whole host of series of unresolved questions. The administration has a lot of unresolved questions to answer, and it is only they who can straighten this out. Legislation might be a good thing, but we all know the path to legislation is fraught with peril – passing the House, passing the Senate, being signed by the president, that hasn’t happened in a while.

But in the meantime, while people grapple with legislation - and I encourage people to talk to one another, we have a lot of questions that the administration must answer - how many children are separated from their parents? Where are those children? Where are the parents? What kind of care are those kids getting? How are they holding up?  

I saw on one of the TV shows this morning a little girl saying “Where’s my mommy? Where’s my mommy?” A young girl maybe four years old. That is not the America any of us, regardless of our party, regardless of our political philosophy, believe in. We see that in other countries that are much crueler and less democratic than us. So we need these questions answered by the administration quickly.

And the second thing we need is a plan. The administration, president, and others, have said “we’re not going to break up families anymore” even though he was the cause of breaking up families. What’s the plan to get them back together? What’s the plan for the future? They now say they’re going back to the way Obama was because they don’t have the resources they need, but at the same time when Sarah Huckabee Sanders says they don’t have the resources, President Trump says “I don’t want any more immigration judges.” This administration is just contradictory and tied in a knot.

And compounding the problem is the president ranting, and that’s what he’s doing, I hate to say it, at these rallies saying “Democrats want crime, Democrats want open borders.” Well Mr. President, I’m the author with John McCain, someone you’ve also belittled, of a bill that passed this body with 69 votes that put $40 billion on the border and would have been far more effective than any wall. We could do that now. We could do comprehensive reform now if some people would be for it on the other side, at the White House. 

But these rants, these hysterical, nasty, finger pointing rants, they don’t help bring bipartisanship here. We expect that of the president; he’s been highly partisan, but they don’t help solve the problem. He just shoots from the hip and the different agencies, whether it’s the Department of Justice and the Attorney General, the Secretary of HHS, the Secretary of Homeland Security, they don’t know what to do because there’s so many contradictory signals coming. And who suffers? These poor little children who were separated from their parents.

Two days ago, Sunday in New York, I called for a czar, a good czar, because when you have different agencies in charge you need the White House to direct it all. This president shoots from the hip, is more interested in nasty rhetoric than solving problems, and nothing gets solved. A czar, some capable level headed person who has the president’s blessing in the White House, who could help coordinate between Justice and HHS and Homeland Security and the other agencies involved could help solve this problem. But whether they go for the czar or not, this administration needs to present a plan ASAP of how to unify the kids and how to deal with the border. They have no plan. They have a lot of contradictory language. Let’s hope they can get there for the sake of humanity and for the sake of what this country has been all about for its beautiful 229 years.

Tax. One of the chief arguments behind the Republican tax bill was the idea that giving corporations a substantial tax cut would compel companies to hire more workers, give raises, and expand operations.

After a few weeks of news about one-time, annual bonuses petered out, and many of those were staged by CEOs sucking up to the president, we have started to get a look at how corporations are really using the profits from the Republican tax bill.

What did Harley-Davidson, the iconic motorcycle company who President Trump talked about in his campaign and even afterwards, do with their tax cut? They cut domestic operations, announced a nearly $700 million stock repurchasing program, and now are moving significant operations overseas. Why didn’t Harley-Davidson take that tax break to help to continue to employ workers here in America instead of a buy back so the wealthy CEOs and shareholders would get a lot of money?

President Trump and Speaker Ryan have held up Harley-Davidson as a success story of their tax bill: cutting jobs in America and spending the tax cut on stock buybacks. Same thing with Carrier, the great big hoopla with Carrier. But Carrier is cutting jobs and still employs loads of people overseas even though they got a huge tax break. This tax break has helped the wealthy, the CEOs, the shareholders, most of whom are rich, one third of whom are overseas, but not the workers, not more productivity in America.

Here’s another one, Walmart. They’re cited by the White House as a positive example of their tax bill in action. Walmart laid off over one thousand employees in recent months and used the tax bill break for a $4 billion buyback of its own corporate debt. This tax bill, this tax bill is proving to be a travesty. All the things that were promised aren’t happening. I know our Republican colleagues, they talk to their wealthy business people and they think it’s great. Talk to the average person. It’s become unpopular again. You know why? It’s sunk in that the money isn’t going to them and the big corporations who are getting these breaks are not benefitting them buy in large.

Listen to this number: over $450 billion in stock buybacks have been announced. That doesn’t employ a single worker. That doesn’t raise the salary of a single worker. That doesn’t bring new equipment to the company to make it more productive so they can compete better. An analysis was just done by Just Capital. 7% of the capital allocated by companies from the tax bill’s savings have gone to employees, 57% to shareholders, close to eight times as much. We Democrats predicted that would happen. And despite the initial hoopla after the bill, the American people are realizing it has happened.

It seems nearly every week, today with Harley-Davidson, there is a new example of corporate America taking the Republican tax cut and putting it to work – not for their employees, not for new equipment, not for new hires – but for executives and shareholders. And let’s not forget 80% of the stock in America is held by the 10% wealthiest people. That’s who benefits. One third of the shares in America are held by people overseas. That’s who benefits. 

As voters head to the polls this November, they should remember that Republicans spent over $1.5 trillion of the taxpayer’s money to give corporate America a handout, while working America got left behind. We Democrats aim to fix that.