Schumer Floor Remarks on Russia Sanctions, Pulse Nightclub Shooting, Attacks on Special Counsel Mueller, and TrumpCare

June 12, 2017

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today delivered remarks on the Senate floor regarding the sanctions on Russia, Pulse Nightclub shooting, attacks on special counsel Mueller, and TrumpCare. Below are his remarks:

I’d like to take a moment to remember the victims of the shooting at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, which occurred one year ago today.

It was the deadliest shooting by a single gunman in our nation’s history. 49 Americans died that night and 53 more were injured; they were children, parents, sisters, brothers and friends.

They went out that night to celebrate with their friends and instead came face to face with a soul twisted by an inexplicable hate.

The best way that I can see to honor their memory is to honor them with action.

We should redouble our efforts to make this country safer from the scourge of terrorism and gun violence; to ensure our schools, and our churches, our theaters, and our nightclubs are safe places where all Americans can be who they truly are.

Let that be our mission as we remember the 49 victims of the Orlando attack and keep their families in our prayers.

Now on Russia sanctions. Madam President, soon we will move to a cloture vote on the motion to proceed to the Iran sanctions legislation.

The two leaders, Chairmans Corker and Crapo, Ranking Members Brown and Cardin of the Foreign Relations and Banking Committees, continue to negotiate a package of strong Russia sanctions that can be offered as an amendment to the bill.

I’m hopeful we can come to an agreement soon, one that at the very least includes the legislation put forward by Sens. Graham and Cardin that would establish a process for Congress to review any Russia-related sanctions relief. Senator McCain has also introduced an amendment for tough new sanctions which I very much support.

Democrats feel strongly that Russia sanctions should move alongside Iran sanctions, and we are prepared to do what we can to make sure we get a vote on a good amendment. Hopefully a bipartisan one.

Now on Special Counsel Mueller. Madam President, as we continue to grapple with last week’s testimony from former Director Comey, it seems the new strategy by some on the right is to try to question the credibility of Special Counsel Mueller.

Already, Former Speaker Gingrich and others have said negative things about Mr. Mueller, just weeks after praising his selection.

They know that Mr. Mueller is the man now responsible for following up on Mr. Comey’s testimony, so the hard right is trying to discredit him in advance. They know they can’t debate the facts or the issues or defend the actions of the White House on the merits, so what do they do? They attack the referee and try to besmirch the reputation of someone like Mr. Mueller.

Mueller’s a man of integrity who has devoted his career to his country. He came out of private life to do a job on behalf of his country and be right down the middle. Even Attorney General Jeff Sessions has praised Mr. Mueller for his service and credibility, saying his “integrity is undoubted” as is his “experience and love of country.” Those are Jeff Sessions’ words.

And now, the political right have pulled out their partisan knives to try to defame his reputation.

It’s a shameful ploy. The right must be afraid of what Special Counsel Mueller going to find. I’d ask Speaker Gingrich a question: is he afraid of what Mr. Mueller is going to find out? Is that why he’s attacking his reputation?

Baseless attacks on former Director Mueller ring hollow. Director Mueller has been hailed as the paragon of a public servant by folks of all political stripes. This country comes to a low point when that kind of attack is issued.

Despite what Speaker Gingrich may try to imply, we should have every confidence that Mueller will investigate the matters at hand with integrity and thoroughness. And I can tell you one thing – the little bit I know about him. Speaker Gingrich’s attacks and attacks like that won’t do a thing to deter Director Mueller from finding out the truth.

Now on healthcare, finally, Madam President.                                                      

The Republicans continue to work on their healthcare bill behind closed doors and yet are looking to vote on a final bill before the July 4th recess.

To all of America, this should be a red alert. This is not a drill. This is a red alert. In a very short time – maybe only two weeks, the Republican majority may try to jam through a healthcare bill that no one in America has seen. No committee hearings, no public debate. According to some reports, the Republicans won’t publically release the text until the very last moment.

What Senate Republicans are doing on healthcare is one of the most outrageous examples of legislative malpractice in decades.

Senator McConnell, who believes in regular order, ought to think long and hard before he does this, because it will not go down in history as a fine moment for him, his party, or the Senate.

This is a party that chanted “read the bill,” “read the bill” --- and now, they won’t even SHOW us the bill.

Democrats spent over a year on the Affordable Care Act, the Obamacare bill, with multiple committee hearings. We actually accepted Republican amendments. Show us the bill! Senator Grassley, Senator Hatch, and others had amendments that were added to the bill. Show us the bill, so we have the same opportunity.

Why would the Majority so starkly depart from the normal legislative procedure?  Why would they seek to pass in the dark of night a bill that affects one-sixth of the economy, millions of people’s lives? Leader McConnell used to stress the importance of regular order in the Senate. Why is proceeding with the Republican healthcare bill in the most irregular way?

I know why. It’s because the Republicans don’t want the American people to see their bill. The Republicans are so ashamed of their health care plan, they want to pass it in the dead of night. Rush it through. It’s not a bill they’re proud of, if they were proud of it they would say, let’s debate it! They’re ashamed of the bill. They know they have the hard right on their backs, saying you gotta do something. But at least have the decency, honor, a little bit of courage: put the bill out there and let us debate it and let us amendment it.

Republicans don’t want the American people to know that their bill will likely gut Medicaid to finance a massive tax break for the wealthy.

Republicans don’t want the American people to know that their bill will make older and sicker Americans pay more for less coverage, while millionaires and billionaires get a break on their taxes. If it was my bill, I would be ashamed of it too. Thank God that it’s not.

Republicans don’t want the American people to know that their bill will cause costs to go up, care to go down, and leave millions of Americans without health insurance.

Why are Republicans working so hard in secret for a bill they’re clearly not proud of? It’s because the ideologues on the far right are pushing them to just repeal and give a tax break to the rich.

It’s because they repeated this political slogan – “repeal and replace” -- to their base for seven years without coming up with a workable healthcare plan for when the day came that they were actually in charge.                                        

So now we have this Frankenstein bill from the House, assembled from spare parts intended to buy off different Republican constituencies. And the Republican majority in the Senate, which at one point we thought would show more honor and more courage, seem to be taking the same approach: they’re working on modifying the bill so that it can get fifty votes in their caucus, no matter what the impact is on the country. Many of the devastating consequences of the House bill will remain.                                     

Mark my words, my Republican friends: the Republican Party will regret the day it passes a bill that looks anything like what is now being considered. Every independent analysis has shown that Trumpcare will devastate sicker, older Americans, folks in rural areas, the working poor, young couples, middle-aged couples who have a parent in a nursing home; it will raise costs on middle-class families and those struggling to get there. We’ll be left with a health care system that only works for the healthiest and the wealthiest among us.

And the Republicans will own every last shred of the responsibility. They will own it completely, because there has not been a scrap of bipartisan input on the bill. Not a single Democratic amendment, not a single hearing. And no one even knows what is exactly looks like.

A Senior GOP aide said they weren’t releasing the bill text because QUOTE “we’re not stupid.” I’d challenge that claim. Keeping a bill this bad holed up in secret and then forcing it down the throats of the American people is much more stupid than simply showing the bill…allowing it to be vetted and amended; allowing it to be improved. It’s much more stupid.

Republicans are going down a dark path, down a dangerous road that will have devastating consequences for their party and, of course, for the American people.

Believe me: this is not what the Democrats want.                                                   

We Democrats are actually willing to take on some of the responsibility. We’re willing to work with our Republican colleagues to make improvements to our healthcare system. To fix problems with the existing law. That involves some political risk. We’re willing to take on that risk to try to help more Americans afford healthcare.

The Republicans are doing just the opposite by hiding their bill under lock and key. They’re trying to avoid the risk of public backlash on a bill that at least the polling shows, has the support of a mere sliver of the American people, 18 percent.

It will backfire. It will do potentially irrevocable damage to their party more importantly to our country. Republicans ought to turn back before it’s too late. They will rue the day they rushed this bill in the dark of night that does so much damage to the American people.

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