Jun 30, 2020
Chuck Schumer & Senate Democrats Press Conference Transcript June 30
Chuck Schumer and Senate Democrats held a press conference on June 30. Read the press conference transcript here.
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Senator Chuck Schumer: (00:00)
… and colleagues to join us. We’re going to tell them, don’t leave millions of small businesses hanging out to dry, but what’s happened with small businesses happened with everything else. The Republicans are just missing in action. We have the greatest health crisis we’ve had in generations, we’ve had the greatest economic crisis since the Depression, and our Republican colleagues are not to be found. For leader McConnell to say he’s going to assess the situation and then decide what to do when we have record unemployment, huge numbers of illnesses and deaths, businesses going out of business, great uncertainty about the future, is one of the greatest derelictions of duty that he has had.
Senator Chuck Schumer: (00:45)
We should be acting. We Democrats want to act. Speaker Pelosi and I sent a letter to McConnell saying let’s open up bipartisan negotiations now. There are so many priorities. People are going to be. There are cliffs coming up. People being kicked out of their houses. Small businesses going under. Unemployment insurance expiring. And the Republican attitude is twiddle the thumbs. That is no good.
Senator Chuck Schumer: (01:16)
And where is President Trump? Fixated on things that affect himself, not on what America needs. Instead of spending the past few months working with Democrats on legislation to address the health and economic crises, Republicans have completely ignored the problem. First, he said he’d do it. First, he said the states should go bankrupt. Then, he said he’d do something in June. Now he says it won’t come up until July 20th. Maybe then. And again, he says the legislation will be written in his office. Hasn’t he learned? That doesn’t work. That dog don’t hunt. You need bipartisanship to get something done here in the Senate.
Senator Chuck Schumer: (01:57)
The Republican majority seems paralyzed by the enormity of the situation. The American people want action. They want help. So Senate Democrats are forcing action on the floor this week on a number of crucial issues. Last night, Democrats asked our colleagues to pass emergency funding for state, local, and tribal governments. Senate Republicans blocked our bill. Today, democrats will ask to pass legislation on safe elections, education funding, funding for nursing homes and extending the PPP. Will our Republican friends block them? If they do, they’ll have to go home to their constituents and explain why they voted against bill after bill that could have helped. Republicans are missing in action. America is demanding they get off the dime, work with Democrats, and get something very real done in the midst of this huge crisis. Senator Durbin.
Senator Durbin: (02:52)
When I hear the Democratic leader talk about dogs that don’t hunt, I know he’s just recently visited the Brooklyn chapter of Ducks Unlimited.
Senator Chuck Schumer: (03:00)
Senator Durbin: (03:01)
Yes. Well, it’s great to have you back. If you listen this morning to Senator McConnell’s opening statement on the floor of the Senate, he was really criticizing Speaker Pelosi for not being around enough, not working hard enough, not getting down to business. Has Senator McConnell forgotten his legislative graveyard? Senator Stabenow was the one that put that list together. 400 pieces of legislation passed by the House of Representatives being ignored by Senator McConnell, and he wants the House to produce more legislation? 400. Does he want to pass the same package for a second time? What’s included in that package? Well, the Equality Act, which was addressed by the Supreme Court last year. That was passed 410 days ago. Oh, the American Dream and Promise Act? That was passed by the House 392 days ago. That would have taken care of the DACA problem. The list goes on and on. No, I’m sorry, Senator McConnell. Criticizing the Democrats in the House for not passing enough legislation? That don’t hunt. When it gets right down to it, they have passed a great deal of important bills and he has ignored every single one of them, not one.
Senator Durbin: (04:13)
Would he take up COVID-19? Well, he told us he didn’t think there was a sense of urgency about it. A sense of urgency about it. I wonder how frequently he’s been home to talk to the people in Kentucky about the urgency of the current healthcare crisis and the urgency of the current economic crisis. According to the president of the Kentucky Hospital Association, hospitals in Kentucky have lost $1.6 billion since March. Only 53 of 118 hospitals in Kentucky have received enough federal aid to cover their losses. At least 18 hospitals in Kentucky are financially vulnerable and at risk of closing. What would help them? The Heroes Act. The Heroes Act that passed the House of Representatives a month ago would provide a hundred billion dollars in relief for hospitals. That would sure help my hospitals in Illinois. Apparently would also help in Kentucky. And how about aid to state and local governments? Is that needed in Kentucky? Kentucky’s expected to lose between 10 and 17% of its annual revenues because of this crisis. Without help from the federal government, Kentucky’s governor admits that “the recession will be longer and unemployment will be greater.”
Senator Durbin: (05:26)
Last week, the Department of Labor announced that more than 24,600 people filed new unemployment claims in Kentucky for the week ending on June 20th, a nearly 700% increase over last year. You would think that a Senator reading those numbers would feel a sense of urgency. It’s long overdue. We’ve been waiting long enough.
Senator Durbin: (05:48)
It’s time for us to help the people back home. The unemployment assistance that we passed in the CARES Act expires at the end of July. On August 1st, millions and millions of unemployed workers will lose their federal assistance. I hope that by then, the Senator from Kentucky will feel the sense of urgency. Even before then, we ought to be addressing this. Why have we wasted all of this time? We should give families peace of mind and businesses the support they need to get back in business. It’s time for us to move in the Senate. I don’t know what Senator McConnell has been waiting for.
Speaker 3: (06:22)
Senator Stabenow: (06:24)
I want to thank Senator Schumer and Senator Durbin for their ongoing leadership. And just to under score what Senator Durbin said, of the 400 bills he was talking about, 90% are bipartisan. 90% are bipartisan, and yet Senator McConnell will not bring these bipartisan bills to the floor. It’s stunning.
Senator Stabenow: (06:49)
The first case of a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the United States was reported on January 20th. Since that day, nearly 2.6 million cases have been reported, and shockingly and sadly, more than 125,000, 125,000 Americans have lost their lives. The Trump administration, Congressional Republicans chose not to take this pandemic seriously for months while every other country was taking actions to protect their citizens, and they’re still not taking us seriously.
Senator Stabenow: (07:28)
Today, we’re releasing a report on how our schools and our children’s education have been profoundly impacted by the pandemic and how we need to act immediately. If our children are going to have the opportunity to go back to school in safe schools, we need to act immediately this week. In fact, today, Senator Murray will be on the floor asking that we do that. This is a latest in a series of reports that highlight how Republican inaction on COVID-19 has cost people’s lives and their livelihoods. People are sick. People have died because the administration failed to develop a national testing strategy. Rural communities are coping with not just outbreaks, but a lack of healthcare resources in their hospitals to address issues that are critical. Communities of color have been hit especially hard, making racial disparities that already existed much, much worse. Our mental health system, already under strain, has been pushed to the breaking point. State and local services are struggling to cope, and so are the people who depend on them. Our central workers have proved themselves heroes, but the words thank you, maybe a little applause isn’t going to put food on the table or pay the rent. And poor families and low wealth Americans were already struggling to get ahead. Now they feel themselves slipping even farther behind.
Senator Stabenow: (09:02)
There’s still so much we can do to manage this pandemic, and we are committed to doing that right now. Today. We can save lives. We can prevent additional economic harm. We can protect our communities. The House passed the Heroes Act over a month ago. It’s now part of the graveyard, the legislative graveyard that Senator Durbin talked about. Over a month ago. Now Senate Republicans are looking to head into the July break without joining us to act on any of the things, on any of the things that would help people and businesses and farmers that are in that bill. We’ve offered real solutions. We simply need Republicans to work with us and act. COVID-19 has left no community untouched. It is time for Senator McConnell to act. Thank you.
Senator Chuck Schumer: (10:01)
Questions on this subject first. No one on this subject? Then we’re going to leave.
Speaker 5: (10:11)
How much money do you want to see specifically? Do you have a number in your mind?
Senator Chuck Schumer: (10:17)
Yeah. We thought what the Heroes Act did was exactly right. It’s about $960 billion, 500 billion for the states and 460 billion for the localities.
Speaker 5: (10:29)
And then unemployment insurance. Leader McConnell just now told reporters he thinks that something needs to be done for people who don’t get their jobs back. The Heroes Act has $600 federal plus that. Would you consider the important back to work bonus or any level [inaudible 00:10:45]?
Senator Chuck Schumer: (10:48)
Well, the back to work bonus pays people who are working. What about the people who are unemployed and can’t get back to work? I don’t get it. It’s illogical. If unemployment insurance is supposed to help people who are unemployed, the back to work bonus, doesn’t solve that problem. Second, we need generous unemployment benefit during this time. And McConnell, I heard what he said. He didn’t even commit to doing it. He just said if it’s going to happen, he doesn’t want to make sure it’d be excessive, whatever that means. We Democrats believe in just again, what’s in the CARES bill. We should extend this provision past December 31st, and there are ways we could strengthen unemployment insurance as well.
Speaker 6: (11:26)
Senator, on the bounty situation, Republicans today seem to be saying both that the reporting on this is wrong but also that Congressional leaders have known about this issue for a very long time. [inaudible 00:11:42] it’s been well established that proxies are working for American adversaries in places like Afghanistan to kill Americans. What’s your response to that?
Senator Chuck Schumer: (11:54)
My response is I haven’t been briefed on it, and that’s why I requested that every Senator get briefed directly by the CIA and the DNI. That’s what would do. And there’s a bigger point here. Where is President Trump? His number one job is to protect American soldiers, to protect the men and women who fight for us overseas. Instead of dithering about what he knew, what he didn’t know, he should be talking. He should have a plan. What are we doing? And above all, go after Putin. This president has been played like a fool by President Putin. Every time they negotiate, Putin wins and he loses. He’s afraid to talk to Putin. One can wonder why, but the bottom line is we need tough action and tough action against Putin, and in the NDAA bill, we will seek to get it.
Speaker 5: (12:43)
Is there any movement on police reform? Are the key parties talking right now?
Senator Chuck Schumer: (12:48)
We have asked. We have stated to the Republicans that we want to sit down and do bipartisan, sit down and do a bipartisan bill, then bring that bill before the judiciary committee, and then bring it to the floor and have amendments. If we start off with a base bipartisan bill, we can actually get something done. Thus far, they’ve refused. And maybe they’re just in disarray among themselves. Maybe they don’t want to build to begin with. I don’t know the answer to that, but we are ready right now to sit down. I’m willing to appoint a few members. Leader McConnell could appoint a few members and they should start talking.
Speaker 5: (13:26)
With regards to the NDAA and Russia, could you be more specific about [inaudible 00:13:29] offer and do you think it’s necessary to vote on sanctions legislation [inaudible 00:00:13:33]?
Senator Chuck Schumer: (13:34)
We support in one of the amendments we want to get put on the floor is a bipartisan amendment by Chris van Holland and Marco Rubio about sanctions against Russia if they interfere in these elections, but we’re also exploring more specific language that would deal with the issue you talked about.
Speaker 6: (13:51)
Can you talk about how you expect a Confederate-based name issue to be resolved in the [inaudible 00:13:57]?
Senator Chuck Schumer: (13:57)
I dare President Trump to veto the bill over Confederate base naming. It’s in the bill. It has bipartisan support. It will stay in the bill.
Speaker 6: (14:04)
So do you think the equality amendment, the Warren amendment, they want to make changes [inaudible 00:14:10] neither will be adopted?
Senator Chuck Schumer: (14:13)
I think that the bottom line is that what’s in the bill will stay in the bill. Thank you, everybody.
Speaker 5: (14:19)