[Congressional Record Volume 167, Number 162 (Monday, September 20, 2021)]
[Pages S6535-S6536]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                       BUSINESS BEFORE THE SENATE

  Mr. SCHUMER. Madam President, the Senate begins this week with a lot 
to accomplish in very little time. This week, and in weeks to come, 
Senate Democrats will continue our work to pass historic legislation to 
strengthen our economy and renew America's middle class for the 21st 
  Very soon, we will also take up a continuing resolution to avoid a 
needless government shutdown and provide emergency funding necessary to 
settle Afghan refugees and those devastated by this summer's natural 
  We must also work on a bipartisan basis to extend the debt ceiling to 
preserve the very important and cherished full faith and credit of the 
United States.
  The Senate will also consider recently introduced voting rights 
legislation and advancing President Biden's nominees to the judiciary 
and to his administration.
  So the next few weeks will be critical weeks for the Senate. Members 
should be prepared for the possibility of working late nights and into 
the weekend.
  On the nominations front, we will begin the week by confirming Ms. 
Veronica Rossman of Colorado to serve on the Tenth Circuit. Ms. Rossman 
has spent the majority of her career in public service, representing 
criminal defendants who cannot afford counsel oftentimes. She would be 
one of very few Federal public defenders on the entire Federal bench, 
bringing both personal and professional diversity to our courts at a 
time when we need to strengthen the public's trust in the Federal 
  In addition to Ms. Rossman's confirmation, Senate Democrats are 
working to confirm many other nominees for a critical number of 
Agencies, including the Departments of Defense, State, and Treasury.
  Now, unfortunately, some of our Republican colleagues have chosen to 
play cheap political games and stonewall the confirmation of these 
uncontroversial but essential nominees.
  Let's be clear. By blocking these perfectly qualified public 
servants, my Republican colleagues are deliberately hindering our 
government's ability to protect our country and to work with our allies 
  These nominees should be the work of a few hours at most. Many of 
them have been reported out of committee with bipartisan support and, 
under normal circumstances, would be confirmed without any trouble.
  And so while my Republican colleagues won't be able to stop these 
nominees from reaching final confirmation, their stonewalling will drag 
out what would normally be a routine and easy process. The few 
obstructionists on the Republican side who are leading this charge are 
deliberately derailing the confirmation of these important nominees in 
an all-out effort to gain the support of hard-right elements of their 
party, and in the process--the nasty political process they are engaged 
in--they are making Americans less safe at home and abroad. They should 
stop immediately, and the Republican leader should admonish them.
  Now, on the legislative front, Democrats continue to make good 
progress toward enacting our Build Back Better agenda into law. Last 
week, the House completed their markups--the House committees completed 
their markups on the legislative text that underpins Democrats' 
reconciliation bill.
  Here in the Senate, our caucus held a long and productive discussion 
last week about the substance of our bill. We will continue these 
discussions as the week progresses.
  Now, no one expected that it would be easy to pass legislation to 
transform the American economy and provide the biggest tax cut for the 
middle class in a generation. But no one in this body was elected to do 
only the easy stuff. We have a lot of hard work to do, and

[[Page S6536]]

we are going to keep at it until we get the job done.
  Now, I just want to say something about the news we received last 
night about the Senate Parliamentarian.
  Last night's ruling was extremely disappointing. It saddened me. It 
frustrated me. It angered me. But make no mistake. The fight continues.
  Senate Democrats have prepared alternative proposals and will be 
holding additional meetings with the Senate Parliamentarian in the 
coming days.
  I have been working closely with my colleagues in the Senate, 
including Judiciary Chairman Durbin, Senators Padilla, Menendez, Lujan, 
and Cortez Masto, and we will continue our fight to find the best 
option available to provide immigrants with the chance at one day 
obtaining lawful residence here in America.
  The last year and a half have shown how vital our immigrants have 
been to keeping our economy going during a time of crisis. So many 
risked their lives on the frontline of this pandemic but remain 
excluded from the very same benefits that have kept millions of others 
secure during these hard times.
  We are short of workers from one end of America to the other. One of 
the reasons, the Trump administration dramatically cut back on 
immigrants in this country. We need them. We need them in our labor 
force. We need them to continue American vitality. We need them because 
they are part of the American Dream.
  It is estimated in my city by some that one-third of the healthcare 
workers at the height of COVID who risked their lives for us were 
  Having a strong law that helps our immigrants is vital. The American 
people understand that fixing our broken immigration system is a moral 
imperative and an economic imperative. Immigration reform has been one 
of the most important causes of my time in the Senate, and I will not 
stop fighting to achieve it.
  Finally, on addressing the debt limit, on debt limit the Republicans 
are doing a dine-and-dash of historic proportions that hurts the 
American people and hurts our country. That hurts the American people 
and hurts our country.

  In the immediate future, both parties will have to come together to 
allow the Federal Government to continue its most important 
responsibility: paying the bills and making good on our outstanding 
  A few minutes ago, I joined with Speaker Pelosi in announcing that 
the continuing resolution that we will take up to avoid a government 
shutdown will also include a suspension of the debt limit through 
December 2022, allowing us to meet our obligations and preserve the 
full faith and credit of these United States of America. Suspending the 
debt limit through December of 2022 provides an amount of time 
commensurate with the debt that was incurred as a result of the $908 
billion COVID emergency relief bill last year. That was a bill that was 
passed when Donald Trump was President and Senator McConnell was the 
majority leader of the Senate. It was passed under Republican 
leadership. That is the debt we are paying in this bill. The 
legislation that funded this $908 billion in COVID relief was supported 
by more than 40 Republicans and signed into law by President Trump. So 
anyone who says this is Democratic debt is not talking fact; they are 
talking fiction.
  Both sides--both sides--have a responsibility to pay for the debt 
that we have already incurred. It has always been done in a bipartisan 
way. Unfortunately, last week, Leader McConnell announced that the 
Senate Republicans are inclined to deliberately turn their backs on 
their obligations.
  When asked if Republicans would block an extension of the debt limit, 
Leader McConnell, amazingly and cravenly, said that ``Republicans are 
united in opposition to raising the debt ceiling.'' Shame. This is the 
same Leader McConnell who urged Democrats and Republicans to support 
raising the debt ceiling when Donald Trump was President and he was 
majority leader. He always comes up with some sophistry as to why it is 
different, but everyone knows it is not different. In fact, Democrats 
supported three times raising the debt ceiling when Trump was 
President, and if my recollection is right, at least one of those times 
was when the House, the Senate, and the Presidency were controlled by 
  Should Republicans careen our country toward a default, our country 
could actually be plunged into recession--laying off millions, making 
it harder for people to pay for the food on the table and their 
mortgages and their rent. Shame, shame on the Republican leader.
  As Secretary Yellen put it just days ago, failure to raise the debt 
limit would have ``absolutely catastrophic economic consequences . . . 
[and] would precipitate a financial crisis.'' A default would risk 
sending interest rates sky high across the board, hurting consumers, 
small businesses, and our country's ability to borrow in the future. 
Our economy, still fresh off the trauma of the COVID crisis, could slip 
back into recession and undo everything we have done to help struggling 
Americans pick themselves back up.
  Now, many on the other side, including the Republican leader himself, 
are trying to justify their reckless position with deeply misleading 
talking points. They have argued over and over again that they refuse 
to work with Democrats because they oppose our forthcoming legislative 
agenda. Of course, what they don't say is that these two issues have 
nothing to do with each other. The forthcoming legislative agenda has 
not incurred any debt--a nickel of debt--in the United States. It was 
the previous agenda of President Trump and the Republican Senate and 
Republicans in the House that created this debt.
  Republicans ignore the analysis like the one done by the Washington 
Post, which observed that ``roughly 97 percent of the current U.S. 
cumulative debt was accrued before Biden took office.'' Indeed, none 
other than the Wall Street Journal made this even clearer. ``Raising 
the debt limit wouldn't facilitate future spending,'' it said, ``and 
Congress would still need to raise the debt limit this fall even if no 
new major spending programs are enacted.''
  I want to repeat that not just for Leader McConnell but for my 
Republican colleagues. Hopefully there are some who will rise to their 
responsibility and abandon this crass, craven, political move, which 
would do such harm to the United States, that the Republican leader has 
proffered. So I will read it again. The Wall Street Journal said, 
``Raising the debt limit wouldn't facilitate future spending'' and went 
on to say that ``Congress would still need to raise the debt limit this 
fall even if no new major spending programs are enacted.''
  So the bottom line is simple. Let me repeat. What Republicans are 
doing is nothing short of a dine-and-dash of historic proportions. They 
want working-class American families to foot the bill for their 
irresponsibility, and as a consequence of their callous political 
games, it will be veterans and Social Security payment recipients who 
suffer most.
  This isn't just another partisan fight. This isn't who can be more 
macho. This is about the country. All too often, the press--they make 
it into macho, macho. That is wrong. What one party is doing here, 
everyone knows, is deliberately wrong--at least the Republican leader 
and all those who choose to follow him--with serious consequences for 
the people. It is not just another partisan fight; it is about avoiding 
a crisis that would undo all the progress our country has made to heal 
itself of the COVID crisis.
  Democrats are going to do the responsible thing and vote to extend 
the debt limit when the time comes. We will see which of our Republican 
colleagues on the other side will have the strength and the courage to 
follow suit.
  I yield the floor.