Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer on Tuesday said implementation of major legislation will be his focus as Democrats contend with a House GOP majority that will serve as a check on liberal policies and the Biden White House.
“Implementation of these major accomplishments will be a top focus for us this year,” Mr. Schumer said in a press conference ahead of President Biden‘s State of the Union address. “Not everybody follows day to day what’s going on in the Senate, or what’s going on in the House. But this year you will see us rolling out these things that matter to people.”
Mr. Schumer, New York Democrat, said that includes projects funded by the 2021 infrastructure law, including the Gateway Program that facilitates the heavy flow of rail traffic through New York City.
The leader said his guests for Mr. Biden‘s speech will highlight efforts to implement legislative wins, including bills that help veterans exposed to toxic burn pits, reduce the cost of insulin and grow the American semiconductor industry.
Mr. Schumer also highlighted Democrats’ push to impose more limits on military-style weapons after a bipartisan law tightened up gun purchase rules last year. One of his guests, Zeneta Everhart, is the mother of Zaire Goodman, a 21-year-old who was shot in the Tops Supermarket in Buffalo, New York. He survived, though the gunman killed 10 shoppers in the racially motivated shooting.
Mr. Schumer focused on the implementation of past achievements as Mr. Biden gets ready to announce a “unity agenda” or a bundle of proposed actions with four prongs: beating the opioid epidemic, tackling mental health issues, supporting veterans and ending cancer.
The White House officials said the idea is to avoid flashy proposals and present an easier sell to a divided Congress.
Mr. Schumer said unity can mean one of two things — working across the aisle to deal with filibuster rules, or keeping the Democratic caucus on the same page so it finds ways to muscle through its priorities.
“When we can’t get things done in a bipartisan way, we’ll try to get them done on our own,” Mr. Schumer said.
Mr. Schumer has contended with some revolts from key centrists over the past years, however, and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona recently flipped her party affiliation from Democrat to independent. The leader said he remains optimistic.
“Unity is our strength, and we’re going to keep at it,” Mr. Schumer said of his caucus. “I believe we will stay unified. I’m really, really excited about the upcoming two years.”
Amid talk of unity, Mr. Schumer slammed the GOP side for its hardball tactics over raising the debt limit.
Republicans want to rein in spending, though Mr. Schumer said Democrats are waiting for them to detail a list of proposed spending cuts.
“One member says they want to cut the ‘woke agenda,’” Mr. Schumer said. “What’s that? What cuts does that mean?”
Also Tuesday, Mr. Schumer defended Mr. Biden‘s decision to let a Chinese spy balloon float across the continental U.S. before shooting it down over the Atlantic Ocean.
“Over water, much of the surveillance balloon’s stuff can be recovered,” he said. “We’re gonna know what it is, and we’re also gonna know what they sought.”