May 25, 2021
Chuck Schumer, Senate Democratic Leadership Press Conference Transcript May 25
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and other Senate Democrats held a press conference on May 25, 2021. Read the transcript of the news briefing speech here.
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Sen. Chuck Schumer: (00:00)
… head of the civil rights, or actually is assistant attorney general for civil rights.
Sen. Chuck Schumer: (00:06)
Okay. Now, the Senate, we continue to work on the Innovation and Competition Act. This legislation, as you know, will lay the foundation for the next century of American economic leadership. It’s really vital to the future of our country. It’ll allow the United States to out-compete countries like China. It’ll create millions of good-paying American jobs. It will help improve our country’s economic and national security. We’re finally taking action to correct the decades-old underfunding in science and technology. That has imperiled America’s global economic leadership. The bill is the product of at least half a dozen Senate committees working for months, all in a bipartisan way. Literally dozens of bipartisan amendments were added to the bill before it ever reached the floor, that means every single member of the Senate has that input into this legislation, every single member of the Senate. Democrat and Republican. Just about everybody.
Sen. Chuck Schumer: (01:14)
Now, the two pieces of legislation that form the core of the bill, to show you how bipartisan it is, one passed out of committee 22 to 4, the Commerce Committee, and the other major piece passed out of the Foreign Relations Committee, 21 to 1. That’s why it passed on a cloture vote 86 to 11. Today, we’re adding more amendments on the bill. We’ve offered five amendments, four Republican, one Democrat, to go forward just an hour ago.
Sen. Chuck Schumer: (01:43)
Also, the Senate will soon consider bipartisan legislation passed by the House to create an independent commission to investigate and report on the January 6th attack on the Capitol. I’ve already taken steps to make that legislation available for consideration on the Senate floor. I’ll bring the bill forward for a vote very soon.
Sen. Chuck Schumer: (02:05)
The formation of a commission is more important now than ever. Since January 6th, Donald Trump and all too many Republicans have tried to spread the big lie to say that the election was stolen, to say that the attack on the Capitol on January 6th was merely peaceful protests that got out of hand. We all know what it was. It was an attack on our democracy. This commission is needed to get the truth of how it happened. It’s also needed to get the truth as to the big lie. The big lie, which can damage our democracy so, so much. I’m sorry that it may be bad politics for the Republicans in their midterm campaigns. The democratic-led Congress is not going to just sweep January 6th under the rug. The truth will come out, and we will make sure of that.
Sen. Chuck Schumer: (03:01)
Sen. Patty Murray: (03:05)
Well, thank you, Mr. Leader.
Sen. Patty Murray: (03:07)
On the first anniversary of George Floyd’s murder, I just want to re reiterate the need to root out systemic racism, and not just in policing, but across all of our laws, all of our policies, all of our institutions from healthcare to education, to voting rights and more.
Sen. Patty Murray: (03:27)
Now, I know members of the Health Committee, Democrat and Republican, have been working very hard on different parts of the US Innovation and Competition Act. As a result, among other policies in the bill, it includes new steps to protect federal research from undue foreign influence and further develops the science and technology workforce in the United States. I’m glad we’ve at least seen some bipartisan support for confronting the challenge of ensuring our country can attract and keep good jobs and remain competitive.
Sen. Patty Murray: (03:58)
But when it comes to another fundamental challenge that we face, ensuring accountability for the January 6th insurrection, Republican leaders are shrugging and choosing to act like there’s nothing they can do from their seats. Some Republicans here in the Senate are saying, in so many words, this wasn’t really a big deal. Well, I wish they were right, but we were all here and we all know downplaying the seriousness of the insurrection we witnessed ourselves is just plain denial.
Sen. Patty Murray: (04:33)
Despite what Republican leaders are claiming, this commission would serve a unique and desperately needed purpose. There is no other independent entity with subpoena power focused exclusively on gathering every last fact about January 6th and issuing recommendations to the president and Congress about how to prevent anything like this from ever happening again. This isn’t about, as one Republican leader suggested, whether or not there’ll be able to quote, “Draw a contrast in the midterms.” It is a way to show the country that, regardless of party, elected representatives in the United States of America will not accept brute force winning out over people’s voices and votes. Not now, not ever.
Sen. Patty Murray: (05:26)
This is something that every elected official should be able to support if they believe in democracy where people use their vote votes and their voices to stand up for what they believe in and if they believe in accountability and in truth. If Republican leaders, once again, put former President Trump and his big lie ahead of our country, as it unfortunately appears they might, then I urge the rest of our Senate Republican colleagues, those who did not encourage the insurrection themselves, to remember how horrified you felt when a violent mob attacked the American Capitol, and vote like it when we bring the January 6th Commission Bill to the floor. Your party leaders may not be on your side, but history will be.
Sen. Patty Murray: (06:11)
Sen. Chuck Schumer: (06:11)
Sen. Debbie Stabenow: (06:12)
Thank you very much.
Sen. Debbie Stabenow: (06:17)
First, on this day, as we’re remembering the murder of George Floyd, I want to thank President Biden for once again reaching out and doing what a President of the United States should be doing and speaking with the family and with friends and recommitting his own actions, as well as I believe, that we need police reform in this country. I want to thank him for that.
Sen. Debbie Stabenow: (06:45)
I want to first speak about the competitiveness bill on the floor and do it through the lens of Michigan and manufacturing, because this is a big part of our future when we look at where we’re going to go as a country, how we’re going to compete. We really have a big choice in front of us. We can invest in making things in America and build an economy that works for everybody, or we can allow other countries to outpace us on technology and remain dependent on critical parts made overseas. That’s not just in theory, that’s actually happening right now.
Sen. Debbie Stabenow: (07:21)
In Michigan, we know that we don’t have an economy unless we make things and grow things. I think that’s true for our country. That is unfortunately something while we’ve been talking about it, other countries have been taking actions. We know in electric vehicles alone that China has put forward more than a hundred billion dollars right now. They have hundreds of companies making electric vehicles. Frankly, you can no longer build a competitive auto industry without electric vehicles, and you can’t build EVs without a whole lot of parts that could be made here but aren’t right now. Aren’t right now.
Sen. Debbie Stabenow: (08:02)
We’ve seen what happens when our auto makers and manufacturers depend on semiconductors made overseas alone. COVID-19 exposed the weaknesses in our supply chains, both our medical supply chains and our manufacturing supply chains. Unfortunately, as a result of the breakdown of the supply chains and not having access to something called semiconducting chips, we literally have thousands of auto workers laid off right now in Michigan, as well as across the country. In fact, the Alliance for Auto Innovation estimates that US auto makers will produce a million fewer cars this year alone because of the shortage. That’s terrible for auto workers. It’s terrible for the economy and it’s terrible for our future. That’s one of many reasons why I support the passage of the US Innovation and Competition Act. This really is about our future.
Sen. Debbie Stabenow: (09:04)
Let me also say this, at the same time, we can’t move forward as a country without finding out the truth of what happened on January 6th. I agree with Senator Schumer and Senator Murray, I mean, this was an attack on the very heart of our democracy. We simply can’t pretend it never happened. Something as simple as a bipartisan commission will bring accountability and ensure that it never happens again. And that’s the least we should be doing.
Sen. Debbie Stabenow: (09:37)
Sen. Chuck Schumer: (09:38)
Okay. Let’s go. Yes, sir. Go ahead. Way back there. No, I like to call them people who don’t, the people who stand to the back who are nice and gentle.
Speaker 4: (09:48)
Leader Schumer, now that the National Guard has left the Capitol, do you think the perimeter fencing should remain? [inaudible 00:09:56]
Sen. Chuck Schumer: (09:56)
Look, we have a great person as our sergeant at arms, General Gibson. She’s studying this carefully. She has a lot of experience and she’s going to make recommendations and we’ll follow them. We need to protect the Capitol, but it shouldn’t be an armed camp. Plain and simple.
Speaker 5: (10:11)
Senator Schumer, at what point are you ready to move ahead on reconciliation on the American Jobs Plan?
Sen. Chuck Schumer: (10:18)
The bottom line is very simple that it has always been our plan, regardless of the vehicle, to work on an infrastructure bill in July. That’s our plan, to move forward in July.
Speaker 6: (10:30)
Sen. Chuck Schumer: (10:30)
Speaker 7: (10:32)
Senator Schumer, you proposed a couple of months ago, you talked about encompassing marijuana, though. What’s the time table [crosstalk 00:10:39]?
Sen. Chuck Schumer: (10:39)
Senators Booker and Wyden and I are working to introduce legislation and you should see it fairly soon.
Speaker 6: (10:45)
Senator Schumer, you said you’re going to move ahead with the 1/6 Commission Bill.
Sen. Chuck Schumer: (10:50)
Speaker 6: (10:50)
You’re talking about other bills that you’re trying to tee up here in the next couple of weeks too, basically putting Republicans on notice. Isn’t some of your audience, though, Democrats, though? To say, “Look, they are filibustering these bills, and we need maybe to address the filibuster.”
Sen. Chuck Schumer: (11:04)
Well, look, we always hope that our Republican friends will work with us on things, whether it be getting America moving again in terms of Build Back Better, whether it be on January 6th, whether it be on even, we’d hope we’d get some support for such a fine person is Kristin Clarke. We hope to move forward with Republicans, but we’re not going to let them, saying no, stand in our way.
Speaker 8: (11:27)
Senator Schumer, are you seeing the infrastructure build needs to pass out of the Senate by July? Is that your timeline? [crosstalk 00:11:33]
Sen. Chuck Schumer: (11:33)
Our goal is to deal with a big, bold plan in July.
Speaker 9: (11:37)
Leader Schumer, on competitiveness, republicans say they don’t want to support cloture unless there’s a vote on the Crapo amendment, GSP, miscellaneous tariffs. Why don’t you want that in the bill? Do you think you can get this finished by this week? What about the Sanders amendment? Do you have [crosstalk 00:11:52]
Sen. Chuck Schumer: (11:52)
Okay. First, we will finish it this week, and we’ve been so bipartisan. I haven’t seen anything like it in all the years that McConnell was leader where we have been so open to the process. Today, we just offered them four more Republican amendments. There are certain people that want to pass amendments that are totally unrelated to the bill, and you can’t just do that, but we are moving forward in the most bipartisan way that I can. I’m confident we’re going to pass the bill this week.
Sen. Chuck Schumer: (12:19)
In terms of Sanders’ amendment, I think warrants are a good idea. That’s something he talked about at our meeting. We’re going to see what we can do in terms of warrants, either in this bill or as we move forward. We’re going to check that out.
Sen. Chuck Schumer: (12:34)
Speaker 10: (12:35)
How open to changes are you on January 6th Commission Bill?
Sen. Chuck Schumer: (12:39)
Look, the January 6th Commission Bill has been as bipartisan as it comes, again. Speaker Pelosi consulted with Leader Ryan, sorry, Leader McCarthy. Oh, for the days. With Leader McCarthy, and agreed to just about every change he wanted. She was consulting me. I thought almost she went very far. No subpoena power in the hands of one party, where we have the House, Senate and president, and it’s even, as opposed to 4-3. But she used the 9/11 Commission, which was a very bipartisan, successful commission, as a model and 35 Republicans voted for it. I’m glad to see that a couple of Republicans here in the Senate have said they would vote for it. I think Romney and Murkowski have said that already. I think that we should vote for it.
Sen. Chuck Schumer: (13:29)
Obviously, we’ll look at any proposal, but it can’t just undo the commission. One of the proposals I heard, have a separate Republican staff. You can’t have a commission with two warring staffs. I’ve never heard, seen that happen.
Sen. Chuck Schumer: (13:41)
Speaker 11: (13:42)
Thank you. Yes.
Speaker 12: (13:44)
Speaker 11: (13:44)
I think he was asking about police reform.
Speaker 12: (13:44)
Sen. Chuck Schumer: (13:48)
Cory Booker is working and making progress.
Speaker 13: (13:49)
Any idea when you can vote on a police reform bill?
Speaker 13: (13:51)