Schumer Floor Remarks On The Trump Administration’s Judicial Nominees And The President’s Failure To Deliver For America’s Middle Class

May 15, 2018

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer spoke on the Senate floor regarding President Trump’s politically extreme judicial nominees and the president’s continuing failure to deliver on promises he’s made to the American people. Below are his remarks which can also be viewed here:

Madam President, last night, the Judiciary Committee announced that it would be voting on a slate of judicial nominees, including Andrew Oldham, a nominee for the Fifth Circuit, and Wendy Vitter, a nominee for the Eastern District of Louisiana.

We prize the quality of moderation in all our judges, at the district level, the circuit level, and of course at the Supreme Court level. Mr. Oldham and Ms. Vitter, unfortunately, have expressed a number of sentiments that would put them on the political extreme, including troubling statements about women’s healthcare rights.

Asked separately by my colleague Senator Blumenthal if they agreed with the decision in the landmark Supreme Court decision forbidding segregated schooling, Brown v. Board of Education, both Mr. Oldham and Ms. Vitter demurred – can you believe that? They would not say if they support Brown v. Board, and this is who our colleagues are nominating to put on the bench? It shouldn’t be a tough question. Segregation and the false paradigm of “separate but equal” was a national disgrace, it remains a stain on our history, it has been widely discredited from one end of America to the other, and yet the nominees for the Fifth Circuit and the Eastern District of Louisiana could not say they agreed with the idea that we, as a nation, should have one school system for all races.

The Judiciary Committee will vote on Mr. Oldham and Ms. Vitter’s nominations on Thursday, 64 years to the day since Brown vs. Board was decided and segregated schools were deemed unconstitutional. In honor of this anniversary, the 64th anniversary of Brown v. Board, my Senate Republican colleagues aren’t rolling out a new education policy, or a new civil rights policy, they’re voting to give these two individuals lifetime appointments to the bench. When we say that sometimes our colleagues and this president are divisive, it’s actions like this that document that, and make the fact that they are being divisive irrefutable.

Our nation became a better nation, more just, more free, when the Supreme Court said that no official, high or petty, could determine where an African-American child could or could not go to school. If you can’t agree with that decision, you don’t deserve to be a federal judge, and my colleagues should make a stand and roundly vote against these two nominees.

Next, I want to talk about an emerging theme from Trump’s presidency, and that is his failure to deliver. For all the ballyhoo about the president being an effective dealmaker, a get-it-done business executive, President Trump has failed – remarkably – to deliver on his promises to the middle class, and to the American people as a whole.

So while sometimes I think some folks confuse chaos for activity, the truth is the president’s impulsive and erratic behavior has scuttled bipartisan legislation, impeded progress, and prevented the middle class from gaining their rightful share.

The rhetoric continues, unabated – the president talks a good game - but actions and accomplishments in area, after area, after area escape him.

President Trump, for instance, promised the American people a better healthcare system. He said better quality at lower prices. Premiums now have jumped double digits in state after state, it’s clear he hasn’t delivered on that promise.

President Trump promised to protect Medicaid and Medicare from cuts, and then he proposed cutting both these programs. Just recently, the president backed off a commitment to let Medicare negotiate lower prices for prescriptions drugs. When he campaigned, all the president would talk about time after time is that drug prices are too high, and yet the program he announced last Thursday was a humiliation to the president. From one end of the nation to the other, they said this does nothing, and, in fact, the stock prices of the pharmaceutical industry went up as he gave his speech, no better proof that he wasn’t doing anything.

President Trump promised that his tax bill would be a middle-class miracle – instead, it’s a giveaway mostly to corporations and the wealthy. Eighty percent – higher than eighty percent goes to the wealthiest people and the most powerful corporations in America. And now, already, we’re seeing higher healthcare premiums and rising gas prices eat away at any meager tax benefit middle-class families received. So, to ask the question that’s been asked time and time again of middle class people, “are you better off now than the day President Trump became president?” Most people are not, because so many costs are going up, and most of the promises President Trump made are not being fulfilled. The president seems to think rhetoric is in one place, and action is in another, and the twain never meet. So, he talks a good game, and then acts on behalf of the powerful and the special interests that hurt the middle class. 

Here’s another one: what about infrastructure? President Trump promised the nation a trillion dollar infrastructure bill to build gleaming new roads, bridges, and tunnels. It took him over a year to propose a detailed infrastructure plan, and when he did, it wasn’t even close to a trillion dollars and it’s gone nowhere. One of his spokespeople just said we’re not doing infrastructure this year. That was one of his biggest promises to the America people, gone.

How about trade? Trade is an issue where the president and I mostly agree. As I’ve said, I believe I’m much closer to President Trump on trade than either President Obama or Bush. I’ve publicly and privately told him as much, but now I’m beginning to doubt him even on trade.

He talks a big game on China, he promises to be tough, and yet this weekend on the toughest thing he did, the thing that woke the Chinese up, made them think we were serious – the president backed off. Not only may President Trump allow China to evade the consequences of rapaciously stealing American intellectual property, he also pledged to help a Chinese telecom company guilty of violating U.S. sanctions. Even on trade, where the president and I mostly agree on policy, President Trump hasn’t delivered, to the chagrin of me, and millions of Americans who depend on fairer trade policies for jobs and income.

And, finally, what about draining the swamp? This is his big cry, it’s all we hear on Fox News: ‘The president wants to drain the swamp.’ It was a central campaign pledge, but what happened when the president got to Washington? He filled his federal government with industry lobbyists and rich executives with sprawling conflicts of interest. His cabinet secretaries have engaged in flagrant graft, enjoying luxuries on the taxpayer dime. His administration hardly even vets its candidates. No president, at least in my career, has done as much to fill up the swamp as much as President Trump. If the American people look at his actions, not his rhetoric, the swamp has gotten much worse, and a lot of it is because of what President Trump did. Mr. President, you can’t say you’re draining the swamp, and then have an administration that is abound with conflicts of interest, abounding with people who favor the wealthy and hurt the middle class. And of course, there has been no “bill of love” for Dreamers. The president said he was going to stand up to the NRA, told a couple of senators that you shouldn’t be afraid of them, and we haven’t seen a check from Mexico for the border wall.

It is a plain fact that this president talks the talk, but fails time, and time, and time again to walk the walk. The Trump administration has left behind a trail of broken promises, example after example of this president failing to deliver. He has dropped the ball for the middle class on healthcare, on trade, on prescription drugs, on draining the swamp, and on infrastructure. On each issue, he said he would do something. He hasn’t.

I actually agree with a good number of President Trump’s campaign promises. I want us to be tough on China. I want to bring more accountability and transparency to government. We Democrats want a trillion dollar infrastructure bill, and we want to bring down the alarming costs of prescription drugs. But this president lacks either the commitment, the consistency, or the know-how to make real progress on any of these issues.

That’s not good enough: not for the millions of Americans who voted for him because they expected him to deliver, or the millions who didn’t vote for him, but need him to deliver, because he’s President of the United States, and the buck stops with him.

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