Schumer discusses tense relationship with McConnell: ‘I try to get along with everybody’

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Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) on Thursday discussed the difficulties in his relationship with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), which he characterized as fundamentally lacking in communication.

Schumer and McConnell have fought a number of battles in recent years, ranging from the bitter confirmation fight over Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and the 2019 government shutdown to President Trump’s 2020 impeachment trial and recent clashes over coronavirus relief legislation.

Asked by late-night talk show host Stephen Colbert to describe what McConnell is like in private, Schumer acknowledged there isn’t much of a relationship between the two leaders.

“Look, I try to get along with everybody and — but he’s not very talkative. Let’s put it like that,” Schumer said during an appearance on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.”

Schumer fumed in March when McConnell rejected his entreaties to hold bipartisan negotiations before drafting the phase three coronavirus bill and instead let GOP chairmen take the lead in putting together its core components.

The relationship hit a low point during the impeachment trial when Schumer repeatedly decried the process as a “sham” because McConnell refused to negotiate an organizing resolution calling for additional witnesses.

Asked about McConnell’s decision to reconvene the Senate next week even though the House is staying away from Washington on the advice of Congress’s attending physician, Schumer said Thursday he plans to be back in the Capitol.

“I’m going back as minority leader, but let me just say this: If we’re going to go back, let’s do something about COVID. We should have tough, strong hearings,” he said.

“I’d like to call Dr. Birx and Fauci before us — without Trump hovering over them, correcting them and trying to keep them quiet — and ask them about the testing and why we’re not doing what we can do to make it happen,” he said, referring to senior White House health advisers Deborah Birx and Anthony Fauci.

“I’d like to bring the head of the Small Business Administration before a hearing and say, ‘Why are the big shots getting it, not the little businesses?’” he added, referring to the agency’s Paycheck Protection Program, which was intended to provide small-business loans.

Schumer said McConnell is more interested in getting confirmation for his “protégé” Justin Walker, whom President Trump has nominated to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

“It has nothing to do with COVID, and this guy was rated unqualified by the [American] Bar Association,” he said.

“We ought to be focusing on COVID and making things better,” he said.

Democrats say McConnell has given them little idea of what to expect in the upcoming work period.

A senior Democratic aide said Thursday afternoon there has been “no outreach from Sen. McConnell about what he plans to do next week.”

Schumer told Colbert that he’s only getting about three hours of sleep a night because he’s so consumed with responding to the pandemic, which has hit New York City harder than anywhere else in the country.

“Stephen, I’m working 24/7 — I sleep about three hours, there’s so much to do,” he said.

But the Democratic leader joked his toughest assignment is looking after his 16-month-old grandson Noah.

“My most exhausting hour [is] the hour I’m assigned to chase Noah around the house. We’re not childproof anymore. He pulls the books off the bookshelves, he goes into the closet, bangs the pots and pans,” he said. 

Tags Anthony Fauci Brett Kavanaugh Chuck Schumer Coronavirus Donald Trump Government shutdown late night talk shows Late Show with Stephen Colbert Mitch McConnell Senate Stephen Colbert

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