Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer delivered remarks on the Senate floor regarding the bombing in Manchester, England, the current probe into ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, and the Trump Administration’s budget proposal. Below are his remarks:
The Senate’s thoughts and prayers go out to everyone in Manchester, England. Such violence is particularly heartbreaking when it happens as it did in Manchester, at a concert, with so many young people there, to enjoy. We mourn with the families of the victims of last night’s terrorist attack, we hope that the perpetrators are quickly found and brought to justice. Mr. President, I saw on TV a mother waiting, trying to e-mail or text her daughter. She got no answer. She was wondering where her daughter is. It brought back the horrible memories for me after 9/11. The day after, when I went up there and saw hundreds of people holding up signs: Have you seen my wife Evelyn? Have you seen my son John. Not knowing if they were alive or dead. Most of them ended up being dead. We hope and pray that that mother and all the other mothers who are waiting, and fathers, brothers, and sisters who are waiting for news that maybe their child, their relative, is alive, will find them alive. Our prayers go out to them.
Now on another matter completely.
Last night it was reported in the Washington Post that President Trump attempted to enlist the Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, and the director of the National Security Agency, Admiral Rogers, in helping the Administration push back against reports in the press about an investigation into the president’s campaign and its potential ties to Russia.
According to the same reporting, White House staff may also have “sounded out top intelligence officials about the possibility of intervening directly” with the FBI and Mr. Comey to get him to drop the investigation into General Flynn.
If these reports are accurate, it’s another piece of now mounting evidence that this White House has no interest, no interest, in allowing the Russia investigation to proceed without partisan interference and the White House seems to have little respect for the principles of rule of law. We haven’t quite seen anything like it in a very long time.
Such allegations only reinforce the correctness of the decision to appoint special counsel Mueller to oversee the investigation and should strengthen our resolve to ensure he is insulated from interference from this White House.
And Mr. President, such allegations also strengthen, again, the need for an independent, nonpartisan FBI Director. With all these reports of attempts to interfere with this investigation, we cannot have an FBI director who has a political background, who doesn’t seem right down the middle, who doesn’t seem to be a director’s director, a prosecutor’s prosecutor, an investigator’s investigator. No politician or candidate with insufficient impartiality should be selected by the president or confirmed by the Senate. And we Democrats will stand very, very strongly for that.
Given the almost daily reports about potentially meddling and misconduct by this Administration, Congress must exercise its oversight authority in order to keep this Administration in check; both the executive branch and the Congressional investigations must proceed. And this is not about politics. When a foreign power, particularly an enemy of our country like Putin and Russia, try to interfere in our elections and will probably do it again in the future, we have to know everything that happened – who participated – and make sure it doesn’t happen again. And if people who participated in it, if there are such people, get away with it this time, many more will do it next time. So this is an issue of national interest, national security, and even the future of our democracy. I remind my colleagues that in our Constitution, the Founding Fathers worried about foreign interference in our government. When I read that in high school and again in college, I said, well, that doesn’t seem like it would apply today. Well, it’s all too real today, showing both the wisdom of the Founding Fathers and the need for strong oversight.
Now, on the budget.
Today, the president will release his full budget for fiscal year 2018.
From all indications, the Trump budget will seek deep cuts to programs that help the middle class and working America while providing more handouts for the rich. It will cut to the bone programs that help the elderly, the poor, while adding money for an unnecessary and ineffective border wall that continues to have bipartisan opposition. And to make all of the math work, the Trump budget makes entirely unfounded assumptions about economic growth.
In short, the Trump budget takes a sledgehammer to the middle class and the working poor, lavishes tax breaks on the wealthy and imagines all of the deficit problems away with fantasy math.
The Trump budget exists somewhere over the rainbow where the dreams of Mick Mulvaney, Paul Ryan, and the Koch Brothers really do come true.
Of course, these dreams are a nightmare for the average working American.
We expect the Trump budget will make deeps cuts to the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control. Let me ask, how many people in America want to cut cancer research when it’s done such good? Well, President Trump evidently does. It’s his budget. They kneecap research that develops new cures, damaging our ability to contain or prevent the outbreak of disease. We’re all living longer and healthier, in part because of this research. Do we want to stop it, cut it back, so we can give tax breaks to wealthy people who – God bless them – are doing great already?
We expect the Trump budget to slash programs like meals on wheels. We even read in the newspaper this morning that the head of the Freedom Caucus said that even for him some of these cuts were too great. SNAP benefits, helping make sure no kid goes to bed hungry in America – this is America. We’ve always done this. And the Children’s Health Insurance Program – cruelly ripping away the lifelines from Americans who need them most: the children, the working poor and the elderly.
We expect the Trump budget will cut transportation funding, education funding, and programs that help students repay their student loan debt. One of the great problems in America, the debt on the backs, the burden of average kids getting out of college, middle-class kids. We’re going to make it harder? What is going on here? What is going on in the White House with this kind of budget? Our college kids, when they get out, they need to be able to live real good lives and not have this burden of debt on their shoulders, which they are struggling under now. We’re going to make it worse?
We also – it’s amazing but true – the Trump budget will break President Trump’s promise to protect Social Security and Medicaid from cuts, both of them. He promised over and over again he wouldn’t cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Medicare is not cut here. Medicaid is and Social Security is. On Social Security, the budget the budget will cut Social Security disability benefits to many Americans who have earned and paid for those benefits. You can say, well it doesn’t cut old age benefits for the elderly. Wait. If they get away with this, the elderly will be next on the chopping block, because the goal it seems of this budget is cut everything you can so you can give even more tax breaks to the wealthiest people – Koch Brothers type of thinking.
It will also seek hundreds of billions of dollars, additional cuts, in Medicaid. The budget cuts Medicaid on top of the cuts that were made in the House bill on Trumpcare. And what’ll that do? Medicaid has become a middle-class program. Sixty percent of the people in nursing homes, Medicaid is their primary source of healthcare. Say they’re 40 or 45, they have three kids. They’re saving for college. They’re struggling, but at least they know that mom or dad, who needs help, is in a nursing home. This budget passes, that family is going to have a terrible choice: take hundreds of dollars a month out of their own budget and give it to pay for the nursing home, or find a place for mom and dad to live. Maybe at home, but maybe there’s no room in the House. Awful. That’s what they’re doing.
And who else will it hurt? Opioid addiction. Much of our progress that we’re trying to make on opioid addiction comes through Medicaid because they give treatment. We need both – law enforcement, I am a tough law enforcement guy, you know that. But we also need treatment. I’ve had fathers cry in my arms because their sons were waiting on line for treatment and died of an overdose. What a burden a parent has to live with. We should cut that and cut it to give more tax breaks to the rich. It’s an America turned upside down in this budget.
I represent New York State. It is known for its big city, New York City. We also have large cities upstate. But we have the third largest rural population in the country, so I’m very familiar with rural America. In many of my counties in Upstate New York – and this is true throughout rural counties throughout America – the largest employer is the rural hospital, and that hospital is the only hospital around for miles and miles and miles if, God forbid, you have a stroke and you have to be rushed there. Well, go talk to our rural hospitals. These rural hospitals, which are the beating heart of our local economy, employing hundreds – sometimes even thousands – of people. Well, nearly one in three rural hospitals today are at risk of closure. It’s more expensive to run a rural hospital. People in rural areas are entitled to the same health care. So that means buying these fancy machines, in an urban area, those machines can run 24/7 and get reimbursement back. But in a rural area, they can’t. There’s not that many people. But they get some help. The Trump cuts to Medicaid would cause a whole bunch of these rural hospitals to close and many more to lay off employees, hurting health care in America – places that need help.
The Trump budget, on top of Trumpcare – which seeks more than $800 billion in cuts to Medicaid -- would decimate health care options for rural Americans and pull the plug on many of these rural hospitals. And some of my colleagues will be talking more about that this morning.
When you add it all up, Mr. President, the Trump budget is comic-book-villain bad; and just like comic books, it relies on a fantasy to make all the numbers work. It’s the kind of budget you might expect from someone who is openly rooting for a government shutdown. Haven’t we heard the president say that?
It is the latest example of the president breaking his promises to working Americans. This budget breaks promise after promise after promise that the President made to what he called the forgotten America, the working men and women of America. He said he’d help them, and this budget goes directly against them.
In his speech to Congress, for instance, earlier this year, the President called education the “civil rights issue of our time,” but his budget would gut vital school programs. Our future, our kids.
He said “cures to illnesses that have always plagued us are not too much to hope,” but his budget slashes funding for medical research at the NIH and CDC, where they do this research..
His budget would cut Social Security Disability Insurance and end Medicaid as we know it.
The Trump budget is one giant, brazen broken promise to the working men and women of America. It completely abandons them.
Fundamentally, this is a deeply unserious proposal that should be roundly rejected by both parties here in Congress. I’m optimistic that that’s what will happen.
We should follow the same blueprint as we did for the 2017 budget: both Democrats and Republicans, in the House and Senate, in a bipartisan way – everyone compromises – we should get together and negotiate a serious proposal that maintains our commitments to the middle class and actually sets our economy up to grow. We cannot let the President so turn America inside out with his budget. We have to stand together, Democrats and Republicans, and reject it for the sake of middle class and working Americans.
The Trump budget, hopefully, will not see the light of day.