**WATCH Senator Gillibrand’s Speech on the Senate Floor HERE**
U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today spoke on the Senate floor to denounce Republican efforts to rush through the confirmation process of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. In a last chance effort to impose extreme, conservative views on this country, Senate Republicans are moving forward with a rushed confirmation process that will have harmful consequences on health care, immigrant’s rights, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, and more. Instead of delivering desperately needed COVID-19 relief to American families, this confirmation will risk the health care of millions of Americans. Four years ago, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell denied a hearing for Obama’s nominee eight months before the election and urged the Senate to ensure American voters picked the next Supreme Court Justice by voting for the next president. Today, we are eight short days from the 2020 general election and millions of Americans have already cast their vote.
Below are Senator Gillibrand’s remarks as prepared for delivery:
Mr. President, I rise today to speak about the future of the Supreme Court, the future of our country, and the responsibility this body has to the people of our nation.
Mr. President, it seems my Republican colleagues have lost sight of what the people of our states have sent us here to do. They sent us here to raise their voices, represent their interests, and provide them with the help they need.
The American people are struggling and they are calling on us to provide them with real relief during this public health and economic crisis. That should be our number one priority.
Eight million Americans have fallen into poverty during this pandemic, including an outsized number of people of color and children.
The proportion of American children who sometimes do not have enough to eat is now 14 times higher than it was last year. Parents now join lines for food banks because they cannot feed their children.
Cases of COVID are on the rise as we head toward a third peak.
And small businesses and their employees don’t see a rebound on the horizon. People are sick, struggling, and scared about their future.
For months my fellow Democrats and I have been calling for a vote on the relief package the House put forward to address these concerns, and we have been met with silence.
Then, after dragging their feet, Republicans put forward a totally inadequate 500 billion dollar package that put the needs of big businesses ahead of hardworking families. What’s worse is that they know it has absolutely no chance of becoming law – their only aim is to score political points, all while the American people continue to suffer.
The weeks we should have dedicated to negotiating a real relief package have instead been spent rushing through the confirmation of a Supreme Court Justice. The hypocrisy of my colleagues is stunning.
The same people who denied Merrick Garland a hearing months before an election are now trying to ram this process through while an election is already happening. Millions of ballots have been cast, Americans are already voting. Their futures are on the line, they should have a say in this outcome.
But we know why Republicans are rushing. They are rushing because they know this may be their last chance to impose their extreme conservative views on our country. They are rushing because they see the clock ticking towards November 10, when the Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether 129 million Americans with pre-existing conditions will continue to have access to affordable health care.
They are rushing to seat Judge Barrett in time for her to rule on that case – a case that could strip millions of Americans of health care in the middle of a pandemic, at the very moment they need it most. It’s inhumane.
The Affordable Care Act is a matter of life or death. I recently spoke with New Yorker Allie Marotta, who has been living with Type 1 Diabetes since 2006. Last December, she turned 26 and aged off of her parents’ insurance. Because her work is contract- based, she couldn’t enroll with an employer. She made too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to afford 400 dollar monthly premiums.
She was uninsured from December to March and had to ration her insulin, putting her life at risk. It was only when the pandemic started and she lost all of her income that she was able to qualify for the essential plan in New York’s ACA marketplace and access her life-sustaining medication. If the ACA is repealed, Allie will have nowhere to turn.
And she is not alone. My friend Kyle lives with Down Syndrome. His father Bill has multiple pre-existing conditions. Bill now works part-time in order to help Kyle, who needs to be with someone 24/7. They are worried about cuts to Medicaid, which could affect the job coaching Kyle receives at the pizza parlor where he works, and about the repeal of the ACA, which provides them with the only care they can afford.
Rushing to seat this nominee means rushing to put Allie’s life and Kyle’s life and the lives of millions of Americans in danger. And my colleagues are putting them all at risk only to further their extreme conservative agenda.
And it is extreme. Their agenda is to seat a nominee who has called Roe v. Wade – quote – “barbaric”, when nearly 8 in 10 Americans believe that it is a fundamental, human and civil right for women to make decisions about their bodies including to the decision of if or when, and under what circumstances, they will have children.
A nominee who referred to sexual orientation as a preference, language that is not just outdated but truly harmful, when 2 in 3 Americans believe in marriage equality.
A nominee who refused to admit climate change is settled science and not a controversial issue, when 99 percent of scientists and 81 percent of Americans agree that humans are drivers of global warming.
So, whose views does she represent? Certainly not those of the people who sent us here. They believe in access to reproductive care. They believe in equal rights for the LGBTQ community. They believe in science. And, they believe that this seat should be filled by the next president and confirmed by the next Senate.
They have made it clear they don’t want the process of a lifetime appointment rushed.
This is the wrong judge for this seat. And this is the wrong process for a lifetime appointment. It’s hypocritical, it’s dangerous, and it’s not what the American people want.
Mr. President, I ask my colleagues to stop ignoring the people who sent us here and to remember that it is our job to look out for their best interests – no one else’s. If we can’t do that, we have no business being here at all.