How Schumer’s Messy Style Offers Dems: ‘I Persist’

DEVELOPMENT… The story will be updated as new information can be verified. Updated 3 times

WASHINGTON — Shoes removed, a near-empty container of leftovers, an unfinished glass of wine — it was the exhausted portrait of one of Washington’s most powerful Democrats after the Senate passed the sweeping health, climate, and health agenda. and economics of President Joe Biden.

Chuck Schumer of New York effectively went from minority to majority leader of the U.S. Senate on the morning of the Capitol uprising on January 6, 2021, and he led the chamber through a tumultuous, messy, yet surprisingly productive race with the longest 50-50 Senate tie split in the nation’s history.

He is not methodical, as evidenced by the crumbs strewn across the senatorial carpet in his office next to the Senate.

But with a willingness to negotiate politically unpalatable compromises and a willingness as a New Yorker to continue harassing his colleagues, Schumer is using his party’s shaky control over the Senate for significant and significant accomplishments not seen in recent years.

“Persist. I persist,” Schumer said in an interview Sunday night after the 24-hour session and the Senate’s passage of Biden’s bill.

The $740 billion package, less than once contemplated but still huge, would be a big legislative victory for any president and his party. For Biden and Democrats, it builds on long-held aspirations to cut health care costs, tax big business that doesn’t pay their share and launch the nation’s biggest investment, some $375 billion. dollars, to fight against climate change. With revenue from corporate taxes and allowing the federal government to negotiate some prescription drug costs with pharmaceutical companies, the remaining $300 billion is dedicated to deficit reduction.

Not everyone is cheering for Schumer.

Republicans are deriding the Democrats’ effort as “yet another reckless tax-and-spend spree,” as GOP Senate Leader Mitch McConnell put it. Over the weekend, he argued that Democrats had confounded their thin control, with Vice President Kamala Harris able to cast a deciding vote, such as a mandate for far-reaching political goals.

And the 755-page bill comes on top of a series of similarly stripped-down initiatives, deep disappointments for the liberal wing of the party. But some were backed by Republicans with a rare bipartisan deal, adding to a Congress with windfall gains.

The toughest gun violence measure in a generation, a bipartisan effort to tighten up who can own guns, is now law. This week, Biden is set to sign into law a $280 billion bipartisan bill to boost the semiconductor industry as well as a nearly $300 billion measure to help veterans exposed to hotspots. toxic.

The Democrats alone have muscled in on a $1 trillion COVID relief package that McConnell calls an “all you can eat liberal spending” buffet. But McConnell and Republicans joined Schumer in passing the bipartisan $1 trillion infrastructure bill for roads, broadband and other nationwide needs.

In addition to the legislation, in the past 18 months under Schumer’s leadership, the Senate held the nation’s fourth presidential impeachment trial, ultimately acquitting Donald Trump for inciting the Capitol insurrection; ratified Finland and Sweden’s NATO membership and confirmed the first black woman, Ketanji Brown Jackson, as a justice of the United States Supreme Court.

“It’s the longest evenly divided Senate, and it’s a real tribute to Leader Schumer that he was able to rally all 50 Democrats behind a legislative platform,” said Sen. Chris Coons, Democrat of Delaware.

“Remember, any of these would have been the biggest bill passed in Congress. Oh, didn’t we do a massive bipartisan infrastructure bill last year? C was the biggest in a generation? And before that, the US bailout? Yes.”

Unlike previous highly productive sessions of Congress, Schumer does not enjoy the large majorities typically required to get the job done. The tradition of filibuster, with its 60-vote threshold to advance most measures, is a powerful tool used by McConnell and Republicans (and Democrats, when in a minority) that can block almost any initiative. .

With no room for error, Schumer relied on a vital skill – speaking

When he first became Democratic leader, then in a minority, he expanded his leadership team to include nearly half of the caucus, ensuring that all segments – from Bernie Sanders on the left to Joe Manchin more on the right – had a seat at the table. His flip phone has become such an integral part of his communication strategy that Schumer now presents it as an accessory, a reminder of how he works.

And then there are the dinners.

After Manchin abruptly walked away from talks with Biden over the original Build Back Better party proposal, Schumer invited the West Virginia senator to dinner.

“I said, look, Joe, we have to do something here,” Schumer recalled.

Over spaghetti and meatballs the day after Valentine’s Day at a Capitol Hill Italian restaurant, Schumer got to work.

“And I said, Look, you have a lot of influence here. You have proven that you are ready to stop everything. But I have to get 49 senators to vote on this. It can’t be what you want,” Schumer told the former governor he recruited to run for the Senate a decade ago. “There has to be a compromise.”

This willingness of Schumer to take political evil with good — in Manchin’s case, the coal state senator’s insistence on oil and gas industry policies that liberals deplore — infuriates liberals. and somewhat threatens Schumer’s grip on power.

Sanders called the final package insufficient, even though he voted for it, and Sanders’ progressive Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was seen as a powerful New York Democrat who could one day challenge Schumer in a primary election. There are many senators who could one day envision themselves being the majority leader.

Schumer’s take: “My job is to get things done.”

“It’s very easy to be a Mitch McConnell,” he said of the Republican who bragged about sending House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Democrat bills to the “graveyard” when he was Majority Leader.

“It’s easy to stop things, especially in a Senate that’s designed to stop things. It’s hard to get things done. »

Schumer has always wanted to be the leader of the Senate since his election more than 20 years ago. But even he was somewhat surprised when two Georgia Democrats, Rafael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, won their January 5, 2021 special election, tipping the majority.

At 4 a.m. on January 6, Schumer was briefed on the latest counts from election night. He was giving a speech in the Senate as an alleged leader hours later when a Capitol police officer grabbed him by the collar of his shirt and pulled him off the ground.

Led to a safe place as the mob of rioters loyal to Trump stormed the Capitol, he and other congressional leaders agreed to resume session that night, determined to complete certification of the presidential election. and move on to the work of the new Congress.

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