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Schumer Floor Remarks on the Need for a Special Prosecutor to Investigate Russian Interference in the Election and the Flaws of TrumpCare

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today delivered remarks on the Senate floor calling on the Department of Justice to name a special counsel to lead the investigation into Russia interference in the 2016 presidential election and laid out the most troubling tenets of House Republicans’ health care plan to replace the Affordable Care Act. Below are his remarks:

Mr. President, this morning the Judiciary Committee is going to have a hearing on the nomination of Mr. Rod Rosenstein to serve as the Deputy Attorney General. During the hearing, Mr. Rosenstein should commit to naming a special prosecutor to look into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.

There is a strong legal rationale for a special prosecutor – a special prosecutor would be free from the day-to-day supervision of anyone at the Department of Justice, would be free to follow the investigation where it leads, and would be subject to an increased level of congressional oversight.

Moreover, it’s the right thing to do to ensure this investigation remains impartial, nonpartisan, and truly gets to the bottom of the matter.

The bottom line is very simple. A special prosecutor can only be fired for cause, but a line person in the Justice Department could be fired at will. We saw that happen when Trump didn’t like what Sally Yates said about his executive order. He simply fired her. Mr. Rosenstein’s a very fine man, an excellent long-time prosecutor in the Justice Department, but this is — when we call for a special prosecutor, it is not an aspersion to him in any way. It is that we’re worried that the White House would not let an investigation within the Justice Department, without the insulation of a special prosecutor, go forward.

If Mr. Rosenstein is unwilling to commit to naming a special prosecutor, or says that he needs to be confirmed and in his position before he can make an assessment – that is insufficient. The need for a special prosecutor is clear enough today to make that call.

We don’t need to wait for Mr. Rosenstein – Mr. Boente, the acting Deputy Attorney General, could make the call today. But if neither will commit to a special prosecutor, Congress must consider bringing back a narrower independent counsel law to see that this investigation is conducted properly.

Now, Mr. President, on another matter. Last night we finally saw the House Republican’s plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

After seven years of talking about the same thing over and over again, you’d think the Republicans would have been able to come up with a better plan than this.

This plan is a mess.

First, it will cost average Americans more money for their health care while providing them fewer benefits;

Second, it will cut taxes on the very wealthy, making average Americans pay more;

Third, it will raise premiums and costs on older Americans;

And forth, it will remove the guarantee that ensures Americans with pre-existing conditions can get coverage.

Trumpcare will make health insurance in America measurably worse in just about every way and likely leave more Americans uninsured. It does however, greatly benefit the very wealthy and special interests.

Let’s quickly look at each of those items I just mentioned:

First, Trumpcare will cost more and you’ll get less:
• By eliminating minimum coverage for health plans and decreasing the availability of tax credits, the cost for average Americans will increase by at least $1,000 annually. That’s a huge increase, like a tax increase on average Americans who need health care.
• It cuts and caps Medicaid, which has expanded health insurance and affects more people as well as many elderly who are in nursing homes as well as their children who might have to pay for their care with the kinds of cuts that we’re seeing.
• The bill would greatly decrease the coverage for maternity care, preventative screenings, mental health and opioid treatment and more
• And with respect to women, Trumpcare would send us back to the Dark Ages.
o Gone are the protections for maternity care, mammograms and more.

o Gone is all funding next year for Planned Parenthood, where 2.5 million women a year get health care.

o The ACA finally made it the case that you no longer had to pay more for coverage just because you’re a woman. Trumpcare rips that way; undoes the progress that we made just a few years ago.
Second, Trumpcare would be a boon to the wealthy while making working Americans pay more:
• The bill is a winning lottery ticket for wealthy Americans – it removes an investment tax and a surcharge on the wealthiest Americans, folks with incomes above $250,000, saving them an average of $200,000 a year.
• And it allows a tax break for insurance executives making over $500,000 a year

Third, Trumpcare will raise premiums and costs for older Americans:
• It would repeal the Affordable Care Act’s premium subsidies and replace them with “refundable tax credits” that will could be worth thousands of dollars less than what was provided under the ACA. Under this plan, a senior without Medicare might only receive $4,000 per year in tax credits, an inadequate sum for someone that age. One illness or bad break and the value of that tax credit would evaporate.
• Also it allows insurers to charge older Americans more, simply because of their age

And finally, Trumpcare would remove the guarantee of coverage for Americans with pre-existing conditions.

Trumpcare is breathtakingly irresponsible. It shifts the costs and the burdens from the rich to the poor, from the government to the people, and raises premiums on older Americans. It seems designed to cover less Americans, and make that coverage less affordable, and less generous. It seems designed to make America sick again.

Mr. President, we don’t even know how large of a negative impact this bill would have yet because Republicans are irresponsibly rushing forward before this bill even receives a score from CBO. After years of howling at the moon about Democrats rushing through the Affordable Care Act; the mantra they said over and over and over again on the floor here and in the House, “read the bill,” Republicans are having committee votes two days after the bill is released. No wonder they don’t want anyone to know what’s in the bill.

They’re rushing it through because it’s very hard to defend what they have done, and the longer it’s out there, the harder it’s going to be for their Republicans colleagues to vote for it.

Lawmakers will be voting blind, without a firm analysis of how this bill would affect overall coverage numbers, affordability and I know this affects a lot of my colleagues on the other side, we have no knowledge of how it will impact the deficit. It’s removing a lot of the revenues for health care without replacing them. So in all likelihood, we’ll see what CBO says, the deficit is going to go way up.

The President is already throwing his arms around this plan, and ultimately he and his party will bear the responsibility for its passage and implementation.

At this time, I’d like to remind President Trump that he said repeatedly in the campaign that he would expand treatment for Americans suffering from opioid addiction. But this mess of a replacement bill would rip treatment away from hundreds of thousands of Americans dealing with opioid addiction.

President Trump said that he would ensure Americans with pre-existing conditions will continue to have access to coverage, but this bill makes that harder in several ways.

President Trump, during the campaign, said that: “Everybody’s gotta be covered…I am going to take care of everybody. I don’t care if it’s going to cost me votes or not. Everybody’s going to be taken care of, much better than they’re being taken care of now…They can have their doctors. They can have their plans. They can have everything.”

… “They can have everything.”

If you read the bill, the way it reduces funding for Medicaid, and replaces the Affordable Care Act’s subsidies with much smaller tax credits; there is just no way this bill meets the President’s standard.

Was the Affordable Care Act perfect? No, it could use some improvements. But Democrats spent a long time thinking about it and crafting the policy to achieve two very real and specific goals: expand coverage and lower costs. Trumpcare would do the very opposite. If it has any one, coherent, positive goal: it’s to limit the tax burdens on the rich.

And in the process, it would badly hurt millions of Americans and throw our health care system back into chaos. If the final product out of the House looks anything like this draft bill, the Senate should consider it a moral duty to reject it.