Aug 3, 2021
Chuck Schumer, Senate Democrats Infrastructure Bill Press Conference Transcript
Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Democrats held a press conference on August 3, 2021 to discuss the status of the infrastructure bill. Read the transcript of the news briefing here.
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Sen. Schumer: (00:33)
The prerogatives of the majority. Okay, can we have some quiet, please? Okay. Good afternoon, everyone. I am proud to be joined by Senators Durbin, Murray, and Stabenow. Now, when the Democrats won the majority, I said it was the end of the Senate legislative graveyard. The Senate is moving forward on our two-track infrastructure strategy, and it’s going along well. We are making good progress. We’ve already held more votes on amendments than in any of the recent years under Leader McConnell. Already, and we’re only in July. Before the start of the bipartisan infrastructure proposal, 56 amendments had received roll call votes this year. Yesterday, we voted on three amendments and adopted two of them, one led by Senators Thune and Tester, another by Senators Padilla and Moran, bipartisan.
Sen. Schumer: (01:32)
Both were adopted with more than 90 votes. Today, we voted on two more amendments, and we’re working up to set additional votes afternoon. This is how the Senate is supposed to work. I’m proud of the work done by our members throughout the weekend to move this bill forward. The Senate will continue to work through the bipartisan infrastructure bill on the floor, but we must work efficiently to set up those votes. That requires cooperation, as you know, between the majority and the minority. And as a reminder to everyone, we’ve already gone through this same process with several bipartisan bills this year, with the anti-Asian hate crimes bill, the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, and the water infrastructure bill.
Sen. Schumer: (02:20)
And since I know all of you want to know about the upcoming schedule, the Senate will complete both the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the budget resolution before we leave for August recess. Timing for the next step will be driven by when we finish the bipartisan infrastructure bill. I just want to reiterate what I’ve said for weeks: the Senate is going to stay here until we finish our work. I’ve told my members to keep their schedules flexible, as we may need to work through the weekends to get the job done. I hope we can use our time in the Senate efficiently. The longer it takes to finish this bill, the longer we’ll be here. Senator Durbin.
Sen. Durbin: (03:06)
Many on the Republican side want us to forget January 6th. They don’t want questions asked about what occurred, that led up to that event, and what happened that horrible day in the history of the United States. But the reality is, and we learned again yesterday, that we cannot forget that any more than we can forget the victims of January 6th. Yesterday, it was announced by the DC Police Department, two more officers had taken their lives who had participated in January 6th. That is a heartbreaking situation. We’re now up to four police who lost their lives in this circumstance, and over 140 who were seriously injured during the course of that demonstration.
Sen. Durbin: (03:50)
It really makes the point, whether it’s a commission, a bipartisan commission which we supported and Senator McConnell opposed, or whether it’s a special committee by Speaker Pelosi, there are many questions that have to be asked to make sure that the record is complete and we don’t end up with a smorgasbord of conspiracy theories, which we’re hearing from the right wing, that blame everyone but the real culprits on January 6th. It’s a mission that all of us share as members of Congress to get the truth on the record. This experience on the floor of the Senate, I just want to echo the words of Senator Schumer, really brings back to mind the Senate that I knew and thought was an institution that really served this country well. For so many years, we’ve been bogged down by the filibuster, by the 60-vote rule, by the effort to keep everything off the floor and everything away from a roll call vote that the Senate has sunk into the shadows.
Sen. Durbin: (04:45)
Now you can see this week, when the Senate comes alive on a bipartisan basis with this infrastructure bill, a much different attitude. People know that we can make history in the Senate this week by an infrastructure bill that is long overdue. There was no infrastructure bill under the previous president, Donald Trump. We tried. He wouldn’t accept any responsibility for negotiating the important elements of it. But now we’ve got a chance to pass a bill that not only puts America to work, but builds America’s economy to compete in the 21st century. That’s a responsibility we share in both political parties. Senator Murray.
Sen. Schumer: (05:20)
Sen. Murray: (05:23)
Thank you. It is clear to anyone who’s seen how devastating this past year and a half has been, and anyone who has really listened to the people of this country, that now is a time for action. Action to address the existential threat of climate change, action to address the economic crisis that was caused by this pandemic, and action to make sure we are never in this situation again. So now is the time to rebuild our nation stronger and fairer for everyone. That means building a 21st-century infrastructure that is more resilient, accessible, and equitable, so every community has clean water, solid roads and bridges, transit, and high-speed internet. It means cutting emissions and creating good-paying union jobs, and keeping our nations competitive in today’s changing economy, which is why this infrastructure package we’re working on right now is so important.
Sen. Murray: (06:19)
But as this pandemic has shown us, building a stronger, fairer nation also means building an economy where every worker has quality, affordable childcare and paid family and medical leave. It means building an education system where every young learner has pre-K, and every adult learner has the option to pursue a higher education. It means modernizing our public health system and ensuring it serves every community, keeping a roof over everyone’s head, and making sure housing is affordable for every American, making sure people with disabilities and older Americans have the home and community-based services that they need to live independently in their communities, and supporting the workers who provide that critical care, and it also means providing immigrants a fair pathway to citizenship.
Sen. Murray: (07:11)
In short, it means we have a lot of work ahead of us, which is why Democrats are so committed to pressing forward on this two-track process. People do not have time to wait. Families in my home state of Washington are paying more for childcare than rent. Parents across America are choosing between a paycheck and staying home to care for a newborn. Communities are facing the effects of climate change like the wildfires out west that have become a part of every summer. That’s why we need to take action right now. Thank you.
Sen. Schumer: (07:46)
Sen. Stabenow: (07:49)
Well, thank you. And I know all of you are always focused on the process and the schedule. We’re focused actually on what we’re trying to get done, and that’s what we’re very excited and committed about. All most Americans want is just a fair shot, just a fair shot to be able to take care of their families and get ahead, and Democrats aren’t leaving until we get key things done to help them do that. That’s just plain and simple. Working with Republican colleagues when they share our values, which is terrific, and continuing on our own to complete the agenda American working families need and deserve. Investing in our roads and bridges and high-speed internet, and getting rid of lead pipes, that’s important. I certainly know that coming from Michigan and representing Flint. Then we’re going to tackle the climate crisis, and create millions of good-paying jobs in the process, which is very exciting, but we’re not stopping there.
Sen. Stabenow: (08:49)
We can’t build back better without building up our families. We’re going to continue the biggest tax cut in a generation for working families, and we’re going to bring down the cost of the things that keep people up at night: childcare, cost and medicine, cost of college, and more. And the good news is, we can pay for all of it. We can pay for all of it by just making sure that millionaires and billionaires pay their fair share. People who are working hard every day are just trying to get ahead, and they need to know that someone has their back. And the good news is, we do.
Sen. Schumer: (09:32)
Thank you, my colleagues. Now, before we take questions, I want to read a statement. Senators Gillibrand and I have released a statement a short while ago, which follows a statement we released in March calling on the governor to resign. Let me read you the statement. It is from Senator Gillibrand and myself. As we have said before, the reported actions of the governor were profoundly disturbing, inappropriate, and completely unacceptable. Today’s report from the New York State Attorney General substantiated and corroborated the allegations of the brave women who came forward to share their stories, and we commend the women for doing so. The New York State Attorney General has conducted an independent, thorough, and professional investigation that found the governor violated state and federal law, had a pattern of sexually harassing current and former employees, retaliated against one of the accusers, at least one of the accusers, and created a hostile work environment. No elected official is above the law. The people of New York deserve better leadership in the governor’s office. We continue to believe that the governor should resign. Yes.
On that front, I mean, did you watch the governor’s statement? Clearly he didn’t resign, so what is your reaction to that?
Sen. Schumer: (11:01)
I continue to believe the governor should resign. Yes, next.
If he doesn’t, should the legislature impeach him and then remove him from office?
Sen. Schumer: (11:10)
As I said, I continue to believe the governor should resign.
What’s your personal relationship going to be with him going forward, and we still work and deal with him?
Sen. Schumer: (11:19)
As I said, I continue to believe that he should resign. [crosstalk 00:11:24]. Yes.
So on an eviction moratorium, are you going to hold a vote on the Senate on that?
Sen. Schumer: (11:29)
Look, e are focusing on two things in the Senate right now where we can get things done. Number one, we are urging the administration to pursue every area that they can extend the moratorium, every area, because we need it extended. Second, we are urging the federal government to put pressure on the states to get out the money. Two weeks ago, before the moratorium expired, I had a press conference with housing advocates, because New York had not sent out its share of money. In fact, as of three weeks ago, New York and South Carolina were the only states that didn’t send anything out. So that must continue. And third, we are asking the governors and local elected officials of other states to extend the moratorium. My state has one till September 6th. We are asking that. Those are the things we’re doing on that issue. Next.
Sen. Schumer: (12:29)
[crosstalk 00:12:30] wondering if you could address-
Sen. Schumer: (12:32)
You’ll have to speak up a little.
Sorry. I’m wondering if you could address some of the criticisms from progressives and activists that there’s not enough money dedicated to climate provisions in the bipartisan bill. Can you guarantee that this is going to be included in the reconciliation bill?
Sen. Schumer: (12:43)
Our goal, which I believe we will achieve, is to meet the president’s goals on climate. 80% of the energy by 2030 will be clean, and there will be a 50% reduction by 2030 of the carbon admitted into the atmosphere. Next.
Will David Chipman, the nominee to the ATF, will he receive a vote on the Senate floor?
Sen. Schumer: (13:05)
We are still trying to garner all of the votes that we can for Mr. Chipman. Stay tuned.
Are you happy with the level of cooperation from Republicans in processing amendments? And what’s your plan to come back after the [crosstalk 00:13:19] on Friday? What’s your plan for the weekend?
Sen. Schumer: (13:20)
Okay, let me just repeat what I said. One, we are working well with the Republicans on amendments. Obviously, you need complete support to move amendments to the floor. Up to now, and hopefully to continue, that will work. Second, on the schedule, we’re going to stay here as long as it takes to get this done, period. Yes.
How do you think keeping the Senate in session on the weekends has helped move along with some of the work-
Sen. Schumer: (13:46)
Members know we’re going to stay here, including weekends, to get the job done.
How about Sunday?
Sen. Schumer: (13:50)
Okay. Thank you, everybody.