Chuck Schumer

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Chuck Schumer
Chuck Schumer official photo.jpg
Official portrait, 2017
Senate Minority Leader
Assumed office
January 3, 2017
DeputyDick Durbin
Preceded byHarry Reid
Chair of the Senate Democratic Caucus
Assumed office
January 3, 2017
DeputyMark Warner
Elizabeth Warren
Preceded byHarry Reid
United States Senator
from New York
Assumed office
January 3, 1999
Serving with Kirsten Gillibrand
Preceded byAl D'Amato
Chair of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee
In office
January 3, 2011 – January 3, 2017
LeaderHarry Reid
Preceded byByron Dorgan
Succeeded byDebbie Stabenow
Vice Chair of the Senate Democratic Caucus
In office
January 3, 2007 – January 3, 2017
LeaderHarry Reid
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byMark Warner
Elizabeth Warren
Chair of the Senate Rules Committee
In office
January 3, 2009 – January 3, 2015
Preceded byDianne Feinstein
Succeeded byRoy Blunt
Chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee
In office
January 3, 2005 – January 3, 2009
LeaderHarry Reid
Preceded byJon Corzine
Succeeded byRobert Menendez
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from New York
In office
January 3, 1981 – January 3, 1999
Preceded byElizabeth Holtzman
Succeeded byAnthony Weiner
Constituency16th district (1981–83)
10th district (1983–93)
9th district (1993–99)
Member of the New York State Assembly
from the 45th district
In office
January 1, 1975 – December 31, 1980
Preceded byStephen Solarz
Succeeded byDaniel L. Feldman
Personal details
Charles Ellis Schumer

(1950-11-23) November 23, 1950 (age 69)
Brooklyn, New York City, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
(m. 1980)
RelativesAmy Schumer (cousin)
EducationHarvard University (AB, JD)
WebsiteSenate website

Charles Ellis Schumer (/ˈʃmər/; born November 23, 1950) is an American politician serving as the Senate minority leader since 2017. A member of the Democratic Party, Schumer is the senior United States senator from New York, a seat to which he was first elected in 1998. He is the current dean of New York's congressional delegation.

A native of Brooklyn and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, Schumer was a three-term member of the New York State Assembly from 1975 to 1980. Schumer served in the United States House of Representatives from 1981 to 1999, first representing New York's 16th congressional district before being redistricted to the 10th congressional district in 1983 and 9th congressional district ten years later. In 1998, was elected as a U.S. Senator after defeating three-term Republican incumbent Al D'Amato. He was subsequently reelected in 2004 with 71 percent of the vote, in 2010 with 66 percent of the vote, and in 2016 with 70 percent of the vote.

Schumer was chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee from 2005 to 2009, during which time he oversaw 14 Democratic gains in the Senate in the 2006 and 2008 elections. He was the third-ranking Democrat in the Senate, behind Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Whip Dick Durbin. He served as Vice Chairman of the Democratic Caucus in the Senate from 2007 to 2017[1] and was chairman of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee from 2011 to 2017.[2] Schumer won his fourth term in the Senate in 2016 and was then unanimously elected Minority Leader to succeed Harry Reid, who was retiring.[3][4]

Family and early life

Schumer was born in Midwood, Brooklyn, the son of Selma (née Rosen) and Abraham Schumer.[5] His father ran an exterminating business, and his mother was a homemaker.[6][7] He and his family are Jewish,[8] and he is a second cousin, once removed, of actress Amy Schumer.[9][10][11] His ancestors originated from the town of Chortkiv, Galicia, in what is now western Ukraine.[12]

He attended public schools in Brooklyn, scoring a super-scored 1600 on the SAT, and graduated as class valedictorian from James Madison High School, in 1967. Schumer competed for Madison High on the It's Academic television quiz show.[13] He attended Harvard College, where he became interested in politics and campaigned for Eugene McCarthy, in 1968.[14] After completing his undergraduate degree, he continued to Harvard Law School, earning his Juris Doctor with honours, in 1974. Schumer passed the New York state bar in early 1975. However, he never practiced law, choosing a career in politics instead.[15]

State assembly and congressional tenure

Schumer's official congressional portrait, 1987

In 1974, Schumer ran for and was elected to the New York State Assembly, filling a seat previously held by Schumer's mentor Stephen Solarz.[16] Schumer served three terms, from 1975 to 1981, sitting in the 181st, 182nd and 183rd New York State Legislatures.[17][18][19][16] He has never lost an election.

In 1980, 16th District congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman won the Democratic nomination for the Senate seat of Republican Jacob Javits. Schumer ran for Holtzman's vacated House seat and won.[16]

He was re-elected eight times from the Brooklyn and Queens-based district, which changed numbers twice in his tenure (it was numbered the 16th from 1981 to 1983, the 10th from 1983 to 1993 and the 9th from 1993). In 1982, as a result of redistricting, Schumer faced a potential matchup with veteran Brooklyn congressman Steve Solarz, although the matchup did not actually materialize.[16][20] In preparation, Schumer "set about making friends on Wall Street, tapping the city's top law firms and securities houses for campaign donations. 'I told them I looked like I had a very difficult reapportionment fight. If I were to stand a chance of being re-elected, I needed some help,' he would later tell the Associated Press."[20]

Schumer introduced The Religious Freedom Restoration Act on March 11, 1993, Pub. L. No. 103-141, 107 Stat. 1488 (November 16, 1993), codified at 42 U.S.C. § 2000bb through 42 U.S.C. § 2000bb-4 (also known as RFRA)

As a member of the House Judiciary Committee, Schumer was one of four congressional members who oversaw the House investigation (leading the Democratic defense of the Clinton administration),[21] of the Waco siege hearings in 1995.[22]

United States senator

Schumer's Senate portrait

In 1998, Schumer ran for the Senate. He won the Democratic Senate primary with 51 percent of the votes against Geraldine Ferraro (21 percent) and Mark Green (19 percent). He received 54 percent of the vote in the general election,[23] defeating three-term incumbent Republican Al D'Amato (44 percent).

In November 2001, Schumer announced hearings on the decision of President George W. Bush to try terrorists in military tribunals amid Washington concerns that Bush would skip the American legal system in regards to his handling of such cases. Schumer said the two goals of the hearings were to ascertain if Bush had the power to form a tribunal apart from an attempt at interacting with Congress, and if a military tribunal was the most efficient instrument to ensure a trial that would not only protect national security information but also guarantee fairness for the suspect.[24]

In March 2002, as the Senate worked on a compromise to save an election reform bill that stalled due to Republicans' believing it was not combative enough against voter fraud, Schumer and Ron Wyden led a successful effort in protecting an amendment allowing first-time voters to be verified with only a signature.[25]

In April 2002, during a Senate speech, Schumer referred to the Middle East policy of the Bush administration as "muddled, confused and inconsistent" and said the planned meeting between Secretary of State Colin Powell and Yasser Arafat would be against the president's stated stand against terrorists and those harboring them.[26]

In 2002, Schumer authored a provision to an industry-sponsored bill intended to harden the ease by which individuals erase their debts through bankruptcy filing. The measure had opposition from anti-abortion activists who charged it with restricting their ability to use the bankruptcy courts to write off court fines. After the bill appeared to die in May, J. Dennis Hastert spokesman John Feehery opined, "Schumer really was pretty obnoxious about how this provision was going to hurt people who were pro-life and that really got some of our folks ginned up." In response, Schumer said the provision was a compromise with Henry J. Hyde and other colleagues and that it was met by opposition from people who did not properly read the law.[27]

In January 2004, after President Bush renominated Charles Pickering for federal appeals court along with 30 other nominees who had failed to win confirmation under the previous Democratic-controlled Senate, Schumer stated his intent to prevent Pickering's confirmation and said the US could do better.[28]

In March 2004, along with Jon Corzine, Ted Kennedy, and Frank Lautenberg, Schumer signed a letter to President Bush urging him to instruct staff to avoid taking action against whistleblower Richard Foster after Foster spoke out on the subject of White House efforts intended to keep Congress unaware of alternative higher cost estimates for the new Medicare prescription drug program.[29]

In August 2004, after American officials leaked the arrest of Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan to reporters, Schumer stated that he was troubled by the decision to reveal Khan's identity, citing the fact that the public had learned little of Khan's role in providing the information that led Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge to announce a higher terror alert level.[30]

In 2004, Schumer won re-election against Republican assemblyman Howard Mills of Middletown and conservative Marilyn F. O'Grady. Many New York Republicans were dismayed by the selection of Mills over the conservative Michael Benjamin, who held significant advantages over Mills in both fundraising and organization.[31] Benjamin publicly accused GOP chairman Sandy Treadwell and governor George Pataki of trying to muscle him out of the Senate race and undermine the democratic process.[31] Schumer defeated Mills, the second-place finisher, by 2.8 million votes and won reelection with 71 percent of the vote.[32] Schumer won every county in the state except one, Hamilton County, in the Adirondacks, the least populated and most Republican county in the state.[32] Mills conceded defeat minutes after the polls closed, before returns had come in.[32]

In March 2006, the House Appropriations Committee voted to block an amendment allowing Dubai Ports World to operate some terminals at U.S. amendment that was inserted into the emergency supplemental funding bill for military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan. The same day, Schumer introduced an amendment barring companies from operating in a U.S. port if the company was owned by a country that recognized the Taliban's regime in Afghanistan, the amendment being touted as similar to the House measure. Senate majority leader Bill Frist subsequently asked for a quorum call that effectively gnarled proceedings, Schumer afterward opining that the Democrats had "bent over backwards to try and accommodate the Republican schedule" and this meant Republicans did not want a vote at all.[33]

In July 2006, Prime Minister of Iraq Nouri al-Maliki stated that Iraq was urging the international community "to take a quick and firm stance to stop this aggression against Lebanon, to stop the killing of innocent people and to stop the destruction of infrastructure." In response, Schumer, Harry Reid, and Dick Durbin signed a letter to al-Maliki in which they charged him with failing to condemn the aggression of Hezbollah as well as Israel's right to defend itself, arguing the oversight raised serious concern over whether Iraq under his reign could "play a constructive role in resolving the current crisis and bringing stability to the Middle East."[34]

A SurveyUSA poll from April 2009 placed Schumer's approval rating at 62 percent, with 31 percent disapproving.[35]

Notable former aides to Schumer include former U.S. congressman Anthony Weiner; former New York state senator Daniel Squadron and New York state assembly members Phil Goldfeder and Victor M. Pichardo.[36][37]

In October 2013, Schumer announced his support for a proposal ending restrictions on shipping beer, wine, and spirits through the United States Postal Service, saying it would "help keep local post offices open by bringing in an estimated $225 million in new revenues to the USPS" in addition to broadening the availability of beers and wines to consumers.[38]

After the 2016 presidential election, Schumer opined that the Democratic Party lost due to not having "a strong, bold economic message" and called for the Democrats to push for reforms in the affordability of college and trade laws.[39]

In December 2016, Schumer called for Trump cabinet nominees to turn in their tax returns and in doing so follow the precedent set by Steve Mnuchin and Tom Price.[40]

In 2017, Schumer wrote to President Trump advocating for a block on China that would prevent the latter country from purchasing more American companies to increase pressure on Beijing to help rein in the nuclear missile program of North Korea.[41] In May 2018, after President Trump signaled his willingness to ease sanctions on ZTE in a bid for a trade deal with Beijing, Schumer observed, "This seems to be an area where Democrats and Republicans in the House and the Senate are coming together and telling the president, you've got to be tough on China, you have to have your actions match your rhetoric."[42]

Congressional leaders in January 2020

In November 2017, Schumer and Gilibrand announced $1,908,486 in funding for Head Start and Early Head Start programs at the Community Action Organization of Erie County, Schumer saying the federal funding would yield "real results to young students in Western New York by providing them with the resources they need to succeed both in and out of the classroom."[43]

In January 2018, Schumer requested the United States Department of Veteran Affairs complete final acquisitions for two 60-acre and 77-acre parcels in Pembroke, New York, and then initiate construction of the New Western New York National Veterans Cemetery, saying the completion of the cemetery would ensure "Western New York's military veterans will have the proper burial, at a site close to the homes, families, and the very communities they dedicated their lives to defend and serve."[44]

In March 2018, Schumer said the bipartisan legislation sponsored by Bob Casey and Pat Toomey would assist the children of deceased first respondents afford college by increasing the availability of Pell grant funding.[45]

In August 2018, Schumer announced the Senate passed 1 million in FY2019 funding for the national firefighter cancer registry as an amendment to the upcoming FY2019 Health and Human Services (HHS) minibus appropriations bill. Schumer said firefighters needed "first-rate medical care and treatment" for the work they did and the registry would help "researchers track, treat, and eventually prevent firefighters being stricken by cancer."[46] After the death of Arizona Republican John McCain that month, Schumer announced in a statement that he would be introducing legislation to rename the Russell Senate Office Building after McCain.[47]

Political style

Schumer and Hillary Clinton at Erie Canal Harbor opening ceremony
Schumer and President Barack Obama in October 2013

Schumer's propensity for publicity is the subject of a running joke among many commentators. He has been described as an "incorrigible publicity hound".[48] Bob Dole once quipped that "the most dangerous place in Washington is between Charles Schumer and a television camera",[49] while Barack Obama joked that Schumer brought along the press to a banquet as his "loved ones".[50][51][52][53] Schumer frequently schedules media appearances on Sundays on both legislative and non-legislative matters. His use of media has been cited by some as a successful way to raise a politician's profile nationally and among his constituents.[54] Schumer has appeared as a guest on The Daily Show seven times.[55]

In Washington, he has been a lead consensus-builder on the difficult issues of health care, immigration, and financial regulation.[56]

In his role as chairman of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies for the Second inauguration of Barack Obama, Schumer played a key role in organizing the event, gave the opening speech and served as the master of ceremonies.[57] A photograph of a smiling Schumer peering from behind Malia Obama as Barack Obama took the oath of office went viral and became a meme.[58] Although it was described as a "photobomb",[59] it was not technically one as he was standing in the correct place.[60][58] The Huffington Post quipped that, "clearly, inauguration day belonged to Chuck Schumer."[61]

Local issues

Schumer at the Binghamton St. Patrick's Day Parade on March 5, 2016
Schumer attended an anti-Trump march in New York City on January 21, 2017

Schumer prides himself on visiting every one of New York's 62 counties each year and has successfully done so in each of the 16 years he has served in the United States Senate, the only New York senator to have done so.[62] He has a reputation for focusing on local issues that are important to average New Yorkers not normally associated with United States senators, ranging from tourism, to local taxes, to job creation.[63][64][65][66] When it was revealed that Adidas planned to end its contract for the manufacture of NBA jerseys with American Classic Outfitters, an upstate New York apparel company, and outsource production overseas, Schumer blasted the company, citing the risk to 100 workers at the plant.[67]

When it was revealed that Canon Inc. was considering relocating from its corporate headquarters in Long Island because of a dispute over road infrastructure funding, Schumer stepped in to advocate New York state redirect federal stimulus dollars to make the road improvements and keep the company and its jobs on Long Island.[68] Along with his House and Senate colleagues, Schumer successfully worked to kill a Bush-era privatization plan for custodial and utility workers at the United States Military Academy at West Point. The plan would have called for turning over custodial and utility work to a Georgia company.[69]


In May 2001, Schumer and Republican John McCain introduced legislation intended to make it more difficult for makers of brand-name drugs to keep cheaper generic drugs off the market.[70] The legislation was supported by a coalition of consumer groups and Schumer told reporters that the legislation's enactment would reduce prescription drug costs by over 60 percent per prescription in addition to saving consumers $71 billion over the following decade.[71]

In October 2001, during a press conference, Schumer stated his desire for generic ciprofloxacin to be available for government use. At that time Bayer was holding exclusive patent rights for its commercial product Cipro. Schumer also said he believed the federal government had the authority to order the immediate production of generic ciproflaxin to expand the government stockpile of the drug.[72]

In July 2002, the Senate passed a bill sponsored by Schumer and McCain that could lower the costs of generic drugs more rapidly available to U.S. consumers and thereby lead to savings of billions of dollars in drug costs. The legislation also attempted to prevent frivolous lawsuits filed by brand-name drug manufacturers claiming generic drugs are infringing their patients.[73]


In November 2001, Schumer joined fellow New York senator Hillary Clinton to call for legislation encouraging the Federal Bureau of Investigation to share information on terrorism with local and state police by removing legal barriers to such cooperation, citing reports by New York mayor Rudy Giuliani that federal authorities did not tell city police what they were aware of. Schumer joined Patrick Leahy to report that the Justice Department supported the legislation.[74]

In October 2016, after FBI director James Comey announced the reopening of an investigation into whether Hillary Clinton, then the Democratic presidential nominee, mishandled classified emails during her tenure at the State Department, Schumer said that he had lost confidence in Comey.[75] In May 2017, after President Trump fired Comey, Schumer told reporters that they were aware the FBI had been investigating whether the Trump campaign had colluded with Russia and pondered whether the investigation was "getting too close to home for the president".[76] In a Senate floor speech, Schumer called for a "impartial and independent" investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election and that the Democrats had agreed to the priorities of Deputy Attorney Rod Rosenstein not being able to appoint a special prosecutor for an investigation into Russia's meddling, the need for Comey to meet with the Senate, and Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions meeting separately with senators.[77]

In January 2018, Schumer said since the Mueller investigation began, the United States "has had to endure conspiracy after conspiracy from the right wing, Republican congressmen, senators and of course the right-wing press, which acts in total cahoots" in regards to their views on the FBI and that Republican attempts to discredit Mueller "has now devolved into delusional, self-serving paranoia."[78] In May, after the White House invited two Republicans and no Democrats to a briefing by Department of Justice officials on an FBI informant that made contact with the Trump campaign,[79] Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi sent a letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI director Wray calling for "a bipartisan Gang of Eight briefing that involves congressional leadership from both chambers."[80]

Supreme Court

In September 2005, following the nomination of John Roberts by President George W. Bush, Schumer outlined the positives of Roberts as his brilliance, his being "a lawyer above all", and "judicial philosophy and modesty and stability" during the confirmation hearings for Roberts by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Schumer said Roberts had negatives on "the question of compassion and humanity", the Bush administration declining to show documents written by Roberts during his tenure as deputy solicitor general, and Roberts declining to answer many questions posed to him by the committee.[81] In June 2018, Schumer stated that Roberts was demeaning the Supreme Court as it was becoming more political, citing the court ruling in favor of anti-abortion clinics in California. Schumer said the court had "affirmed a plainly discriminatory travel ban, unleashed a flood of dark unlimited money in our politics and has scrapped a key pillar of the Voting Rights Act" and thereby aligned itself with goals of what he called "the hard right".[82]

In October 2005, Schumer stated that Bush Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers "would not get a majority either in the Judiciary Committee or the floor" and that her confirmation hearings would cause her to gather either support or opposition in a way that had not been seen by another other prior nominee in recent memory.[83]

In May 2009, he told reporters that the confirmation process for Obama Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor would be "more of a test of the Republican Party than it is of Judge Sotomayor", citing Sotomayor as a "mainstream justice" that Republicans had no reason to oppose.[84]

In March 2016, after Obama nominated Merrick Garland to replace the deceased Antonin Scalia, Schumer called for Mitch McConnell and Chuck Grassley to hold hearings "so America can make its own judgment as to whether Merrick Garland belongs on the court."[85] In July 2018, it was reported that Schumer had advocated for President Trump to nominate Garland during a phone conversation as a way of attracting bipartisan support, as opposed to Trump's nominating a person opposed to the Affordable Care Act and Roe v. Wade who would be more controversial.[86] In November, after the 2016 elections, Schumer said the Democrats were "going to go at" President-elect Trump if he did not nominate Supreme Court candidates who were mainstream and that the Republicans did not have "clean hands" for having blocked the Garland nomination for months.[87]

In March 2017, at the end of Senate hearings for Trump Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, Schumer stated he would vote against the nomination and called for Democrats to join him in waging a block of an up-or-down vote on Gorsuch. In his floor speech, Schumer said, "If this nominee cannot earn 60 votes — a bar met by each of President Obama's nominees and George Bush's last two nominees — the answer isn't to change the rules. It's to change the nominee."[88] Though the Democrats conducted the filibuster, it was broken by Republicans using the "nuclear option", and Gorsuch was confirmed the following day.[89]

In July 2018, after President Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh to replace the retiring Anthony Kennedy, Schumer said Kavanaugh should be asked direct questions about the precedent set by Roe v. Wade and other cases. Schumer noted Kavanaugh's expressed opinion on the possible incorrect decision in United States v. Nixon and that this could mean he would not hold President Trump accountable after being confirmed.[90]

On August 21, Schumer stated that he was requesting documents from Kavanaugh's White House tenure be shared with the Senate, arguing that "withholding documents from the Senate and the American people under the bogus label of committee confidential is a dark development for the Senate."[91] After meeting with Kavanaugh, Schumer stated that he had asked him if he believed Roe v. Wade and Casey v. Planned Parenthood were properly decided and that the nominee had not responded and the lack of an answer "should send shivers down the spine of any American who believes in reproductive freedom for women." He furthered that Kavanaugh had a special obligation to make his views clear due to his unique position as the only person nominated by a president for the Supreme Court after the president said "I will only nominate someone who overturns Roe v Wade."[92] Schumer subsequently called for the Senate Judiciary Committee to delay Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing after former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen plead guilty to charges of bank fraud, tax fraud and campaign finance law violations, calling the plea "a game changer".[93]

At a pro-choice rally outside the Supreme Court in March 2020, Schumer stated "I want to tell you Gorsuch, I want to tell you Kavanaugh, you have released the whirlwind and you will pay the price. You won't know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions". Chief Justice John Roberts subsequently issued a statement describing Schumer's comments as "threatening", "inappropriate" and "dangerous".[94] Senator Josh Hawley also moved a motion calling for Schumer to be censured.[95]

Net neutrality

In November 2017, Schumer said, "Just as our free highway system helped build jobs in America in the 20th century, Net Neutrality will help build jobs in the 21st century. To take a step back hurts our economy, our job growth and middle-class and working people. It is a disaster."[96] In December, after the FCC voted to repeal net neutrality rules, Schumer stated the internet could start resembling "a toll road, with the highest bidders cruising along private 'fast lanes' while the rest of us inch along a single, traffic-choked public lane; and we could be forced to purchase internet packages much like cable packages, paying more for popular sites" and the resolution he was introducing would undo the effects of the vote.[97]

In January 2018, Schumer announced that all 49 members of the Democratic caucus supported a resolution overturning the FCC vote on net neutrality and said congressional Republicans "have the opportunity to right the administration's wrong and show the American people whose side they're on: Big ISPs and major corporations or consumers, entrepreneurs, and small business owners."[98] In May, the Senate adopted a measure to revive Obama-era internet regulations enforcing equal treatment for all web traffic, Schumer describing the vote as "our best chance to make sure the internet stays accessible and affordable to all Americans."[99] In June, in response to the Republican-controlled House not taking up the Senate resolution restoring net neutrality rules, Schumer said "House Republican leaders gave a green light to the big ISPs to charge middle-class Americans, small business owners, schools, rural Americans, and communities of color more to use the internet."[100]

Committee assignments

Schumer serves on the following Senate committees in the 115th United States Congress:[101]

Caucus memberships

Political positions


Schumer is pro-choice, and has been given a 100% rating by NARAL Pro-Choice America,[104] though he received some criticism for attending a gala in 2007 hosted by Efrat— an organization that seeks to reduce abortion among Israeli Jews.[105] After Supreme Court justice Anthony Kennedy retired in 2018, Schumer voiced concern about President Trump's choice of replacement, believing that they would try to overturn Roe v. Wade.[106]


In March 2019, Schumer was one of thirty-eight senators to sign a letter to United States Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue warning that dairy farmers "have continued to face market instability and are struggling to survive the fourth year of sustained low prices" and urging his department to "strongly encourage these farmers to consider the Dairy Margin Coverage program."[107]

Clinton impeachment

Schumer voted on the impeachment charges of President Bill Clinton in both houses of Congress. Schumer was a member of the House of Representatives (and Judiciary Committee member) during a December 1998 lame-duck session of Congress, voting "no" on all counts in committee and on the floor of the House. In January 1999, Schumer, as a newly elected member of the Senate, also voted "not guilty" on the two impeachment charges.[108]

Consumer issues

Schumer has given legislative attention to consumer issues. Schumer passed legislation that required uniform disclosure information on the back of credit card applications, notifying prospective cardholders of annual fees and interest rates. This standardized information is now referred to as the "Schumer box". The senator has also aggressively pushed to end the practice whereby customers can be charged two ATM fees, once by their own bank and once by the bank who owns the ATM, if the ATM is outside their personal bank's network.[109]

With Congresswoman Nita Lowey, Schumer has been working to ban the chemical bisphenol A, or BPA, often found in baby bottles and plastic children's food containers.[110] The Canadian government has already banned the chemical in baby bottles and children's products.[111] Schumer is also seeking a ban on the use of cadmium, a carcinogen known to impair brain development in children, in toys and children's jewelry.[112] When companies began selling gloves, pills, inhalers, diuretics, shampoos and other products during the Swine Flu scare, Schumer urged the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to open an investigation. In the end, the FTC put ten companies on notice and identified a total of 140 scams.[113]

Schumer has been a champion of college tuition tax credits, calling for and passing a $4,000 tuition tax credit for students as part of a host of tax credits and cuts passed to stimulate the economy in the 2009 American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA).[114]

He received an "A" on the most recent (2008) Drum Major Institute's Congressional Scorecard on middle-class issues.[115]

Death penalty

In 2013, Schumer said the death penalty would be “appropriate” in the case of the Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the perpetrator of the Boston Marathon bombing. “The federal law allows the death penalty,” “I wrote the law in 1994 when I was head of the crime subcommittee in the House. This is just the kind of case that it should be applied to".

“Given the facts that I’ve seen, it would be appropriate to use the death penalty in this case,” he said.[116][117]

Disaster relief

In 2014, Schumer was recognized for helping to achieve the award of $700,000 in compensation monies from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for Gowanda, New York as a result of the devastating flood that occurred there in 2009.[118][119] In 2009, a flash flood devastated the village, causing two deaths. Four feet of flood waters swept through the village, and caused much damage.[118][119] The village was declared both a state and federal disaster site.[118][119]

Of the anticipated disbursement of FEMA monies to Gowanda, New York, due to the 2009 flood damage experienced there, Schumer is quoted, stating in the January 31, 2014 edition of Jamestown's The Post-Journal:

FEMA and the state were sitting on Gowanda's money for way too long. It's about time that they made the village of Gowanda whole for the damage done in this flood. I've been advocating for this for months and months and months; I'm glad everyone came together and finally did the right thing.[118][119]

Donald Trump

Schumer attended the Congressional leadership meeting with Trump in the White House Situation Room on January 2, 2019

In a November 2016 interview conducted in the weeks following Trump's victory, Schumer said that he and the president-elect were not friends and had "civil conversations a couple of times" when Trump had contacted him. Trump had said earlier that year that he believed he would get along with Schumer and that he was "close to Schumer in many ways."[120]

In February 2017, ahead of Trump's speech to a joint session of Congress, Schumer predicted that the speech would be less memorable than ones delivered by Trump's predecessors due to what he called "a yawning gap between what he says and what his administration actually does for working Americans." Though acknowledging Trump's populist campaigning style, Schumer said Trump "governs like a pro-corporate, pro-elite, hard-right ideologue."[121]

In March 2017, Schumer released a statement calling for Trump to apologize for claiming the Obama administration had wiretapped him during his presidential campaign. He advocated for Trump to stop tweeting to better focus on working on behalf of the United States and said Trump had "severely damaged his credibility" through promoting conspiracy theories.[122]

In June 2018, Schumer delivered a Senate floor speech decrying a call by Congresswoman Maxine Waters to harass members of the Trump administration as protest of the administration's policies: "I strongly disagree with those who advocate harassing folks if they don't agree with you. If you disagree with a politician, organize your fellow citizens to action and vote them out of office. But no one should call for the harassment of political opponents. That's not right. That's not American."[123]

In August 2018, in response to President Trump's charge that American Jews who vote for Democrats are "disloyal," Schumer tweeted, "When he [Trump] uses a trope that’s been used against the Jewish people for centuries with dire consequences, he is encouraging — wittingly or unwittingly — anti-Semites throughout the country and world."[124]

Equal pay

In April 2014, the United States Senate debated the Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 2199; 113th Congress), a bill aimed at attempted at addressing the gender pay gap in the United States."[125] Republicans argued that the Democrats were attempting to use the votes on this bill and the issue of equal pay as political issues in the 2014 midterm elections.[125] Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), who backed the measure, told reporters that "pay equity, that's women, that's 53 percent of the vote."[125]

Financial industry regulation

In 1987, then-congressman Schumer wrote a New York Times op-ed opposing the repeal of the Glass–Steagall Act of 1933, which was entitled "Don't Let Banks Become Casinos".[126] In 1999, Schumer commented in support of Congress's repeal of the Glass–Steagall Act of 1933: "There are many reasons for this bill, but first and foremost is to ensure that U.S. financial firms remain competitive."[127]

Since 2010, the securities and investment industry has been the largest donor to Schumer's senatorial campaigns.[128]

On December 14, 2008, an article in The New York Times on Schumer's role in the Wall Street meltdown stated that he embraced the industry's free-market, deregulatory agenda more than any other Democrat in Congress, backing measures blamed for contributing to the financial crisis. A review of his record showed that he took steps to protect the industry from government oversight and tougher rules. Over the years, he helped save financial institutions billions of dollars in higher taxes or fees. The article charged that Schumer succeeded in limiting efforts to reform and regulate credit-rating agencies reforms proposed by the George W. Bush Administration and the Cox SEC.[129]

The Charles Schumer-Rob Portman Senate bill of 2015[130] plans to tax the $2.2 trillion multinational corporations are holding outside the country in tax-haven subsidiaries, on which 35 percent is already owed, as a one-time tax "at a rate significantly lower than the statutory corporate rate".[131]

In his book released in March 2010, No One Would Listen, Madoff whistleblower Harry Markopolos passed along an unsourced claim that Schumer called the SEC for information about the Madoff investigation. Schumer denied this.[132]

Foreign policy

Schumer was a supporter of the Iraq War Resolution, and a strident pro-Israel member of Congress, although he was very critical of President George W. Bush's strategy in the Iraq War; he suggested that a commission of ex-generals be appointed to review it.[133] In October 2002, he voted for the war.[134] Nat Hentoff of the Village Voice, however, wrote in November 2006 that "the loquacious Schumer has been indifferent to the administration's war on the Constitution and on our laws and treaties", particularly on the issue of torture.[135]

The senator also is involved with legislation to address the Darfur genocide. In 2009, he co-sponsored two bills calling for peace in Darfur. Both bills, S.455 and S.684, passed in the Senate. He also voted in favor of measures to help increase the efficiency of peace keepers serving in Darfur.

Schumer, along with Republican senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, has been highly critical of the trade imbalance between the United States and China, and its alleged cause of Chinese currency intervention.[136] They have asked the White House, under both the Bush and Obama administrations, to find China "guilty of currency manipulation" under a 1988 law. Schumer and Graham have introduced legislation in three successive Congresses to apply tariffs onto Chinese goods for the purpose of raising the value of the Chinese yuan.

In 2009, Schumer criticized Scotland's release of convicted Pan Am Flight 103 bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, and called for the United States to impose economic sanctions on the United Kingdom if Megrahi's release was tied to a massive oil deal between the United Kingdom and Libya.[137]

In April 2017, after the Shayrat missile strike, Schumer said a "pinpointed, limited action to punish and hopefully deter Assad from doing this again is appropriate" while warning against the United States becoming further involved in Syria.[138]

In July 2017, Schumer voted in favor of the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act that grouped together sanctions against Iran, Russia, and North Korea.[139]

Schumer became the first senator to call for U.S. support for Kurdish independence following the results of the 2017 Kurdistan Region independence referendum, releasing a resolution calling for the U.S. government to change its policy to "support a political process that addresses the aspirations of the Kurds for an independent state". He called upon Iraq to "engage in a dialogue and peacefully determine the best way to accommodate the well-deserved and legitimate aspirations of the Iraqi Kurds".[140]

Before the Trump Administration takes concrete measures against China in late March 2018, Schumer and other Democratic leaders pressed Trump to focus more on China. Schumer said "China has stolen millions of jobs and trillions of dollars" but "administrations from both parties haven't been strong enough to fight back".[141][142][143]

In July 2018, after Trump criticized at the NATO Summit in Brussels Germany's decision to approve a new Russian-German gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea bypassing Poland and Ukraine, Schumer and House Minority Leader Pelosi released a joint paradoxical statement condemning the president's comments as an embarrassment and his behavior was "another profoundly disturbing signal that the President is more loyal to President Putin than to our NATO allies".[144]


In October 2009, Schumer said, "It cost us $6 trillion and 4,500 lives, approximately, to bring stability to Iraq. Just in terms of the loss of life and treasure, do we want to do the same exercise in Afghanistan?" He opined the United States could potentially be able to keep itself safe without bringing stability to Afghanistan and advocated for American forces to be scaled back in Afghanistan in favor of more reliance on unmanned drone attacks.[145]

In April 2017, Schumer called for caution in Afghanistan in noting the casualties in the Iraq conflict and said the military would have to come to Congress in the event they wanted more American soldiers in Afghanistan.[146]

Iran nuclear deal

On August 6, 2015, Schumer announced his opposition to the nuclear deal with Iran.[147] Schumer planned to tell the White House, then his Senate colleagues, and then the public, but the White House leaked the news during the Republican debate in what CBS News described as an "apparent attempt to limit coverage".[148] Arms control expert Jeffrey Lewis derided Schumer's decision, noting that Schumer was making factually incorrect claims about the amount of time in which the treaty would allow inspection of Iranian nuclear facilities.[149] In what The Guardian described as a "shot across Schumer's bow", White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said that fellow Democrats might remember Schumer's decision when deciding whom to elect as their next majority leader.[150]


Schumer supported Israel in the 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict.[151] In March 2018, Schumer told AIPAC's delegates that Israeli settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, have nothing to do with the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.[152][153]

Schumer is a co-sponsor of a Senate resolution expressing objection to the UN Security Council Resolution 2334, which condemned Israeli settlement-building in the occupied Palestinian territories as a violation of international law. Schumer criticized President Barack Obama, saying: "past administrations — both Democrat and Republican — have protected Israel from the vagaries of this biased institution [UN]. Unfortunately, by abstaining on United Nations Resolution 2334, this administration has not followed in that path."[154]

In May 2017, Schumer co-sponsored the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, Senate Bill 720, which made it a federal crime, punishable by a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment,[155] for Americans to encourage or participate in boycotts against Israel and Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories if protesting actions by the Israeli government. The bill would make it legal for U.S. states to refuse to do business with contractors that engage in boycotts against Israel.[156]

Schumer introduced a Senate resolution celebrating the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem.[157]

In May 2018, Schumer praised President Donald Trump for opening the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, saying "I sponsored legislation to do this two decades ago, and I applaud President Trump for doing it." [158][159] He had previously criticized Trump, accusing the President of "indecisiveness" for his former delays in implementing the move by waiving the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, as previous presidents had done.[160]

North Korea

In February 2017, Schumer said that North Korea had demonstrated itself to be "an irresponsible nation in every way" and China could be used to curtail North Korea as most of North Korea's imports and exports went through China. He advocated for the United States to tell China "they have to put the wood to North Korea in a much more serious way than they have done so far."[161] In August, after Trump said North Korea would be "met with fire and fury like the world has never seen" in the event of continued threats against the United States, Schumer released a statement advocating for the United States to be "firm and deliberate with North Korea, but reckless rhetoric is not a strategy to keep America safe".[162]

In May 2018, Schumer called for Kim Jong-un to be removed from the commemorative coin memorializing the 2018 North Korea–United States summit, citing Kim as a "brutal dictator" and offering the Peace House as a more appropriate alternative.[163] In June, Schumer was one of seven senior Democratic senators to sign a letter to Trump outlining the conditions of their caucus's support for any deal resulting from the North Korea-US summit.[164] After Kim and Trump issued a joint statement, Schumer said the meeting between the two had given "a brutal and repressive dictatorship the international legitimacy it has long craved" and that the agreement was without detail on achieving a pathway to the Korean peninsula being denuclearized, how the United States would verify North Korea's disarming, and an assurance of cessation for enrichment of plutonium and uranium from North Korea.[165] In a speech on the Senate floor, Schumer questioned what the United States had gained from the summit and added that the country had "won far stronger language on denuclearization" in previous agreements with North Korea. In response, Trump tweeted, "Thank you Chuck, but are you sure you got that right? No more nuclear testing or rockets flying all over the place, blew up launch sites. Hostages already back, hero remains coming home & much more!"[166]


In a June 3, 2008, op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, Schumer wrote that cooperative economic sanctions from the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China could topple Iran's theocratic government. In discussing the importance of Russia's cooperation, Schumer stated that "Mr. Putin is an old-fashioned nationalist who seeks to regain the power and greatness Russia had before the fall of the Soviet Union." He followed it up by noting that "The anti-missile system strengthens the relationship between Eastern Europe and NATO, with real troops and equipment on the ground. It mocks Mr. Putin's dream of eventually restoring Russian hegemony over Eastern Europe."[167] The East European Coalition sent Schumer a letter regarding the article on June 10, 2008, writing that "As a supporter of democracy for the nations of Eastern Europe, which suffered greatly under 'Russian hegemony over Eastern Europe,' your suggestion that these nations be used as bargaining chips in order to appease Russia is troubling, inexplicable and unacceptable."[168]

In August 2013, after Russia granted asylum to Edward Snowden, Schumer said Putin was behaving like a "school-yard bully" and added, "The relationship between the United States and Russia is more poisonous than any time since the Cold War because of all of this."[169]

In December 2016, Schumer joined John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Jack Reed in a letter to Senate Majority Leader McConnell urging the formation of a Senate select committee on cyber. Schumer stated that the panel would focus on Russian meddling and potential threats from other countries such as China and Iran.[170]

In December 2016, Schumer demanded a congressional inquiry into Russian meddling of U.S. affairs.[171] In January 2017 he said "Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you", in response to those questioning the U.S. intelligence community over its assessments.[172] Later that month he introduced legislation to limit executive action on Russian sanctions.[173]

In a May 2017 Senate floor speech, Schumer called for the release of unedited transcripts of the meeting between Trump and Russian officials the previous week by the White House, saying the continued confidentiality would ensure "the American people will rightly doubt if their president can handle our nation's most closely kept secrets."[174] In July, Schumer disavowed claims that the Democratic Party considered Russia its top priority and named health care and economic stability for working-class families as their primary concerns. "Obviously Russia is in the news. Obviously we want Bob Mueller to be able to pursue and our committees to be able to pursue their investigations unimpeded."[175]

Schumer spearheaded a non-binding resolution in July 2018 "warning President Trump not to let the Russian government question diplomats and other officials". The resolution states the United States "should refuse to make available any current or former diplomat, civil servant, political appointee, law enforcement official or member of the Armed Forces of the United States for questioning by the government of Vladimir Putin". It passed 98-0.[176]

Gun laws

While serving in the House of Representatives, Schumer, along with California senator Dianne Feinstein, authored the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban which expired in 2004. Supporters of gun control legislation, however, give him much of the credit for passage of both the Assault Weapons Ban and the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act.[177] The Assault Weapons Ban, which banned semi-automatic rifles, shotguns, and handguns with certain features, expired in September 2004 despite attempts by Schumer to extend it. He was one of 16 senators to vote against the Vitter Amendment, which prohibited the confiscation of legally owned firearms during a disaster.[178]

While a target of gun rights organizations, Schumer has supported hunters, sponsoring legislation to provide millions in outdoor recreation grants to landowners who allow hunting and fishing on their private property. For these efforts, Field and Stream magazine honored Schumer in its "Hero Awards" in 2008.[179] Schumer is a supporter of providing hunters with tax deductions for donating venison and other game to feeding programs.[180] In response to a question in a debate during his 2010 reelection campaign, Schumer has denied having a handgun or a permit for one and has produced a letter from NYPD stating that neither he nor his wife (Iris Weinshall) has a handgun license from NYC. In a statement from Brian Fallon, a Schumer aide, he "insisted that except for winning an NRA marksmanship award at age 14, the senator does not own a gun or have a license to carry one".[181]

In February 2018, after the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, Schumer was one of four Democratic senators to sign a letter to President Trump asserting that were he "to endorse legislation to require a background check on every gun purchase, without other poison pill provisions attached, we could finally move much closer towards the comprehensive system that you called for after the Stoneman Douglas attack" and that there was no justification in allowing individuals denied firearms by federally licensed dealers being able to "simply visit a gun show or go online to purchase the same gun that they were denied at the store".[182]

In January 2019, Schumer was one of forty senators to introduce the Background Check Expansion Act, a bill that would require background checks for either the sale or transfer of all firearms including all unlicensed sellers. Exceptions to the bill's background check requirement included transfers between members of law enforcement, loaning firearms for either hunting or sporting events on a temporary basis, providing firearms as gifts to members of one's immediate family, firearms being transferred as part of an inheritance, or giving a firearm to another person temporarily for immediate self-defense.[183]

Health care reform

Schumer supported President Barack Obama's health reform legislation; he voted for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in December 2009,[184] and he voted for the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.[185]

In 2009, Schumer also proposed that any new government-run health insurance programs follow all the standards applicable to private insurance. He did this to "address fears that a public program would drive private insurers from the market". Schumer commented, saying he wanted "a level playing field for competition".[186]

In May 2017, in response to an amendment by Fred Upton to the American Health Care Act, Schumer released a statement saying the amendment "leaves Americans with pre-existing conditions as vulnerable as they were before under this bill" and compared it to "administering cough medicine to someone with stage 4 cancer".[187] After the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) showed the American Health Care Act would cause millions of Americans to lose health coverage, Schumer said, "Republicans in Washington and the president should read this report cover to cover, throw their bill in the trash can and begin working with Democrats on a real plan to lower costs for the American people."[188] In June, Schumer sent a letter to Majority Leader McConnell requesting a meeting between all senators for a discussion on the American Health Care Act, citing the need for both parties to "come together to find solutions to America's challenges."[189] Later that month, Schumer estimated the bill had a "50/50" chance of passing in the Senate and added that Democrats were doing everything they could to fight the measure, referring to the legislation as "devastating for the middle class".[190]

Homeland security

As a senator from New York, Schumer has worked to secure homeland security funds for New York State and City and provide resources to its first responders. He delivered over $20 billion to support the state's security and recovery efforts after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York City and worked to deliver $200 million in Homeland Security funds to protect New York City mass transit.[191][192][193]

Schumer has been a leader in the fight to continue fully funding the FIRE Grant program[194] administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The program allows fire departments and first responders nationwide to apply for grant funding for major purchases that localities have difficulty providing, namely apparatus and emergency vehicles. When the Bush administration pushed a plan to reduce the program from $1 billion to just under $300 million, Schumer helped lead an effort with local firefighters to block the cuts.[195]

In 2006, Schumer led a bipartisan effort, with the help of Republicans like Congressman Peter T. King (NY), to stop a deal approved by the Bush administration to transfer control of six United States ports to a corporation owned by the government of United Arab Emirates (UAE), Dubai Ports World (see Dubai Ports World controversy). The 9/11 Commission reported that, despite recent alliances with the U.S., the UAE had strong ties to Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda prior to the 9/11 attacks. The measure in the House was H.R 4807, and in the Senate, S. 2333; these were introduced to require a 45-day review of this transfer of ownership. On March 9, 2006, Dubai Ports World withdrew its application to operate the ports.

In 1995, Schumer sponsored the Omnibus Counterterrorism Act of 1995 (H.R. 896) in the U.S. House of Representatives.[196]


Schumer is one of the Gang of Eight, a bipartisan group of four Democratic and four Republican senators who wrote and sponsored a 2013 comprehensive immigration reform bill. At the time, Schumer was the chairman of the Immigration, Refugees, and Border Security subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee.[197] In June 2013, the immigration bill passed the Senate with a strong majority—68-32, with 14 Republicans joining all Democrats—but the House of Representatives under Speaker John Boehner refused to take up the bill, and the legislation died.[198]

In April 2012, he introduced a bill that would kill Arizona's anti-immigration law, SB 1070 and ones like it if the Supreme Court were to rule in favor of the states. He backed his position, saying: "States like Arizona and Alabama will no longer be able to get away with saying they are simply 'helping the federal government' to enforce the law when they are really writing their own laws and knowingly deploying untrained officers with a mission of arresting anyone and everyone who might fit the preconceived profile of an illegal immigrant."[199]

In January 2018, Schumer stated that any agreement on the status of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals before its March expiration would have to be included in the spending bill.[200] Schumer offered Trump congressional approval of upward of $20 billion for his border wall in exchange for protecting recipients of DACA. Trump declined the offer. A week later, Schumer announced that conversations on immigration and border security were resuming between the White House and himself.[201] In a March CNN op-ed, Schumer wrote that Trump had stood in the way of progress on "compromise proposals that both sides should be proud of" and charged the President and the White House with using Dreamers as "bargaining chips to push forward their anti-immigrant agenda". He called on Trump to change course and said Americans would be aware that he was behind the prevention of Congress from settling the matter.[202] In June, ahead of a planned meeting between Trump and House Republicans for discussions on the compromise immigration bill, Schumer warned that moderates in the House would lose credibility if succumbing to pressure and enacting "the hard right's agenda".[203]

IndyMac Bank controversy

On June 26, 2008, Schumer took the extraordinary step of publicly releasing letters he had written to regulators regarding IndyMac Bank, the seventh largest savings and loan association and the ninth largest originator of mortgage loans in the United States, which he considered to be a severely troubled institution. Schumer wrote he was "concerned that IndyMac's financial deterioration poses significant risks to both taxpayers and borrowers and that the regulatory community may not be prepared to take measures that would help prevent the collapse of IndyMac." Many depositors at IndyMac panicked or from another perspective justifiably acted and withdrew funds in the 11 days before IndyMac failed.[204]

An audit by the Treasury Department's Inspector General would find that the primary causes of IndyMac's failure were associated with its business strategy of originating and securitizing Alt-A loans on a large scale. When home prices declined in the latter half of 2007 and the secondary mortgage market collapsed, IndyMac was forced to hold $10.7 billion of loans it could not sell in the secondary market. IndyMac's reduced liquidity was further exacerbated when account holders withdrew $1.55 billion in deposits in a "run" on the thrift following the public release of the letter. While the run was a contributing factor in the timing of IndyMac's demise, the underlying cause of the failure was the unsafe and unsound manner in which the thrift was operated.[205]

Director of the Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS) John Reich immediately blamed IndyMac's failure on the release of the letter. Reich said Schumer gave the bank a "heart attack" and opined, "Would the institution have failed without the deposit run? We'll never know the answer to that question."[206] Reich and top deputies later resigned or were removed amidst a Treasury Department audit and investigation revealing that Indymac had been allowed to backdate its financial reports.[207]

Schumer conceded his actions may have caused some depositors to withdraw their money prematurely, but suggested that "if OTS had done its job as regulator and not let IndyMac's poor and loose lending practices continue, we wouldn't be where we are today. Instead of pointing false fingers of blame, OTS should start doing its job to prevent future IndyMacs." He pointed out that "IndyMac was one of the most poorly run and reckless of all the banks ... It was a spinoff from the old Countrywide, and like Countrywide, it did all kinds of profligate activities that it never should have. Both IndyMac and Countrywide helped cause the housing crisis we're now in."[208][209]

Despite IndyMac's condition before the failure, the financial media criticized the senator sharply. CNBC financial analyst Jerry Bowyer charged that Schumer was responsible for the "second largest bank failure in US history".[210] While opining that IndyMac's failure was only a matter of time, banking consultant Bert Ely termed Schumer's actions "wrong and irresponsible".[211]

On October 18, 2008, The Wall Street Journal published an article suggesting that Schumer's letter may have been prompted by an investment company's interest in IndyMac.[212] His reported close ties to the founders of OneWest Bank have long been an interest to many action groups. On December 22, 2008, the Washington Post reported that OTS regional director in charge had been removed from his position for allowing IndyMac to falsify its financial reporting.[213][214] That same day, conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh not only continued to blame the senator, but recast IndyMac's July bankruptcy as an "October Surprise" planned by Democrats to help win the 2008 election.[215]


In April 2018, Schumer said that he would back efforts to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level.[216] On April 20, a day known as 4/20, he announced his sponsorship of legislation "to remove marijuana from the country's list of scheduled substances". The bill would "establish funding streams for women and minority-owned marijuana businesses, and provide money for research into the public health effects of THC".[217] On June 27, 2018, Schumer formally introduced the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act.[218]

Mukasey nomination

In 2007, after Bush nominated former federal judge Michael Mukasey to become attorney general of the United States (replacing Gonzales, who had resigned), Schumer expressed support for Mukasey. Despite appearing troubled by Mukasey's refusal to declare in public that waterboarding was illegal torture, Schumer announced on November 2 that he would vote to confirm Mukasey.[219] Schumer said that Mukasey assured him in a private meeting that he would enforce any law declaring waterboarding illegal. Schumer also said that Mukasey told him Bush would have "no legal authority" to ignore such a law.[220] The votes of Schumer and fellow Democratic senator Dianne Feinstein, to recommend Mukasey for confirmation allowed the confirmation to move on to the full Senate.

Same-sex marriage

Schumer at New York City's gay pride parade in 2007

Schumer voted for the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 1996.[221] He opposed the Federal Marriage Amendment, saying in 2004 that DOMA made it obsolete.[222]

In March 2009, Schumer announced his support for same-sex marriage, noting that it "was time".[223] Schumer previously supported civil unions. At a private dinner with gay leaders on March 22, 2009, Schumer said he not only currently supported same-sex marriage, but also backed a full reversal of DOMA.[224] When the New York State Senate took up a bill to legalize gay marriage in December 2009, Schumer, along with other statewide officials, aggressively lobbied wavering senators to support the legislation.[225]

Subprime mortgage and foreclosure crisis

In September 2007, Schumer proposed that the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO) raise Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's conforming loan ("affordable") limits from $417,000 to $625,000, thereby allowing these government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) to back mortgages on homes priced up to $780,000 with a 20 percent down payment.[226]

Following the meltdown of the subprime mortgage industry in March 2007, Schumer proposed a federal government bailout of subprime borrowers in order to save homeowners from losing their residences and to shore up communities that were seeing neighborhoods destabilized due to foreclosures and the resulting decreases in neighboring home values.[227] As part of a package of regulatory reforms that Schumer has pushed in response to the subprime foreclosure crisis, he called for the creation of mortgage industry regulators to protect borrowers from deceptive lending practices and called for the Securities and Exchange Commission to relocate from Washington to New York so that it was in closer proximity to the industry it was charged with overseeing.[228]

Schumer's top nine campaign contributors are all financial institutions that have contributed over $2.5 million to the senator.[229]

Taxes on high incomes

Schumer had been a staunch defender of low taxes on hedge fund and private equity managers in the past, arguing that this was necessary to protect the industry. Serving on both the Senate Banking and Finance Committees, Schumer was in a position to block attempts to tax their financial gains at the rate other taxpayers pay for income.[230] In 2010, however, Schumer suggested that a hedge-fund tax would be acceptable and not hurt the industry.[231]

In February 2012, Schumer said that he disagreed with the Obama administration's call to raise taxes on those making more than $250,000 a year, calling for a million-dollar level instead. According to Schumer, "there are a lot of people who make above 250 who aren't rich."[232]

Technology and the Internet

In June 2011, the senator and colleague Joe Manchin (D-WV) sought a crackdown on Bitcoin currency, saying it facilitated illegal drug trade transactions. "The transactions leave no traditional [bank transfer] money trail for investigators to follow, and leave it hard to prove a package recipient knew in advance what was in a shipment," which used an anonymizing network known as Tor.[233] One opinion website said the senators wanted "to disrupt [the] Silk Road drug website".[234]

Schumer is a sponsor of S. 968, the controversial PROTECT IP Act which would restrict access to web sites judged to be infringing copyrights.[235] On January 18, 2012, the NY Tech Meetup and other cybertech organizations held a demonstration with 2,000 protesters in front of the offices of Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, New York's other U.S. senator who also supported the bill.[236][237] Some demonstrators complained that the bill had originated with wealthy campaign contributors who would reward legislators for passing the bill.[238]

In March 2012, Schumer and Connecticut senator Richard Blumenthal gained national attention after they called upon Attorney General Eric Holder and the Department of Justice to investigate practices by employers to require Facebook passwords for employee applicants and workers.[239]


Schumer has been described as an ally of Facebook amid debates around regulating Facebook or probing its involvement in various controversies, including Russian interference in the 2016 election.[240] In July 2018, Schumer confronted Senator Mark Warner, who is one of Facebook's harshest critics, and told him that he ought to work with Facebook, not act in ways that could harm the company, because they needed to have a working relationship with Facebook.[240] Schumer's daughter works as a marketing manager at Facebook.[240]

U.S. Attorney firings

As chair of the Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the Courts, Schumer took a lead role in the investigation of the dismissal of U.S. attorneys controversy.[241] Although he was at one point criticized for being a lead investigator of the affair while also chairing the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, such criticism was not sustained after the full dimensions of the controversy became apparent.[242][243]

On March 11, 2007, Schumer became the first lawmaker in either chamber to call for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to resign for the firing of eight United States Attorneys. In an interview on CBS News's Face the Nation, Schumer said that Gonzales "doesn't accept or doesn't understand that he is no longer just the president's lawyer".[244] When Gonzales' chief of staff, Kyle Sampson, resigned on March 13, Schumer said during a press conference that Gonzales was "carrying out the political wishes of the president" and declared that Sampson would "not be the next Scooter Libby", meaning that he did not accept that Sampson had sole responsibility for the attorney's controversy.[245]

Schumer, like other members of the Senate Judiciary Committee from both parties, was angered during Gonzales' testimony on April 19, 2007; Gonzales answered many times that he didn't know or couldn't recall details about the controversy. When Schumer's turn came to ask his last round of questions, he instead repeated his call for Gonzales to resign, saying that there was no point to further questioning since Gonzales had "answered, 'I don't know' or 'I can't recall' to close to a hundred questions" concerning the firings (most press reports counted 71 instances) and didn't seem to know about the inner workings of his own department. Gonzales responded that the onus was on the committee to prove whether anything improper occurred. Schumer replied that Gonzales faced a higher standard, and that under this standard he had to give "a full, complete and convincing explanation" for why the eight attorneys were fired.[246]

Controversy and criticism

Gaza statements

Schumer, speaking at an Orthodox Union event in Washington D.C., in June 2010, made comments regarding Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip that were later criticized.[247] He called on Israel to "strangle them economically until they see that's not the way to go". He argued that the current Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip is justified not only because it keeps weapons out of the Palestinian territory, but also because it shows the Palestinians living there that "when there's some moderation and cooperation, they can have an economic advancement."[247][248] He also said, "The Palestinian people still don't believe in a Jewish state, in a two state solution ... They don't believe in the Torah. They don't believe in King David. So, they don't think it's our land ..."[249]


While discussing an immigration bill on the Senate floor in 2010, Schumer likened Indian tech giant Infosys Technologies to a "chop shop." When his statement set off a wave of outrage in India, the senator acknowledged his characterization was incorrect.[250][251] The remark was also criticized as "outrageous" by Ron Somers, head of the U.S.-India Business Council.[251]

Bicycle safety

Schumer is noted for his love of cycling in New York City, especially around his home in Brooklyn.[252] In 2011 he was reported to have joined a group of neighbors who live on his street in Park Slope, near Prospect Park. They attempted to remove a new "protected" bicycle path on their street,[253] which ran adjacent to the curb with a protection buffer provided by parallel-parked cars next to the bike lane.[254] While Schumer has not taken a public position on the traffic-calming project, whose most prominent feature is a two-way protected bike path, his wife Iris Weinshall is a prominent advocate against the project, and the New York Post reported that Schumer himself has lobbied behind the scenes against the bike path.[255] In addition, a major Schumer campaign contributor[256] has fought a controversial pro bono legal battle against the safety project, drawing criticism.[257]

Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee

Schumer was the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, part of the Democratic senate leadership, with primary responsibility for raising funds and recruiting Democratic candidates in the 2006 Senate election. When he took this post, he announced that he would not run for Governor of New York in 2006, as many had speculated he would. This step avoided a potentially divisive gubernatorial primary election in 2006 between Schumer and Eliot Spitzer, then New York's attorney general.

While chairman in 2006, staffers of the committee obtained a copy of Maryland's 2006 Republican senate candidate Michael Steele's credit report. A staff researcher used Steele's social security number to obtain his credit report from TransUnion. The report was paid for with the DSCC credit card issued to the researcher's supervisor. After an internal investigation, the Maryland Democratic Party determined the credit report was obtained illegally and reported the incident to the U.S. Attorney.[258] The staffer resigned and pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of computer fraud and was sentenced to 150 hours of community service.[259] The supervisor resigned from the DSCC.[260]

Under Schumer, in the 2006 elections, the Democratic Party gained six seats in the senate, defeating incumbents in each of those races and regaining control of the senate for the first time since 2002. Of the closely contested races in the Senate in 2006, the Democratic Party lost only Tennessee. The incoming Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, persuaded Schumer to continue to serve another term as DSCC chair.

In 2009, for the 111th Congress, Schumer was succeeded as the DSCC chair by senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey.

Senate minority leader

Schumer attending the Inauguration of Donald Trump as president of the United States, January 20, 2017
Schumer is among the members of the Senate leadership meeting with Donald Trump and Mike Pence in the Oval Office, January 24, 2017

The Senate Democratic caucus elected Schumer minority leader in November 2016. Schumer had been widely expected to lead Senate Democrats following the 2015 retirement announcement of his predecessor, Harry Reid. He is the first New Yorker, as well as the first Jew, to serve as a Senate leader.[261]


In January 2007, he published a book called Positively American: Winning Back the Middle-Class Majority One Family at a Time, outlining strategies with which Democrats could court middle-class voters. One of his aides at the time Daniel Squadron helped to write it, and they drew from the senator's experience helping his party win in the 2006 midterm elections.[36][262]

Personal life

Schumer and his wife, Iris Weinshall, were married September 21, 1980. The ceremony took place at Windows on the World at the top of the north tower of the World Trade Center.[263] Weinshall was New York City's commissioner of transportation, from 2000 to 2007.[264] Schumer and Weinshall live in Park Slope near Grand Army Plaza.[265]

The Schumers have two children, Jessica and Alison, both graduates of their father's alma mater, Harvard College. The older daughter, Jessica, served as chief of staff and general counsel of the Council of Economic Advisers from May 2013 to August 2015.[266] Alison was employed by Facebook, out of college, and is a marketing manager in the company's New York office.[267][citation needed]. In 2018, Chuck Schumer became the grandfather to Jessica's son, Noah.[268]

Electoral history

United States Senate election in New York, 1998
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Chuck Schumer 2,386,314
Independence Chuck Schumer 109,027
Liberal Chuck Schumer 55,724
total Chuck Schumer 2,551,065 54.62%
Republican Al D'Amato 1,680,203
Conservative Al D'Amato 274,220
Right to Life Al D'Amato 104,565
total Al D'Amato (Incumbent) 2,058,988 44.08%
Marijuana Reform Party Corinne Kurtz 34,281 0.73%
Green Joel Kovel 14,735 0.32%
Libertarian William McMillen 8,223 0.18%
Socialist Workers Rose Ana Berbeo 3,513 0.08%
Democratic gain from Republican
United States Senate election in New York, 2004[269]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Chuck Schumer 4,384,907
Independence Chuck Schumer 216,198
Working Families Chuck Schumer 168,719
total Chuck Schumer (Incumbent) 4,769,824 71.2%
Republican Howard Mills 1,625,069 24.2%
Conservative Marilyn O'Grady 220,960 3.3%
Green David McReynolds 36,942 0.3%
Libertarian Don Silberger 19,073 0.3%
Builders Party Abe Hirschfeld 16,196 0.2%
Socialist Workers Martin Koppel 14,811 0.2%
Majority 3,144,755 46.92%
Turnout 6,702,875
Democratic hold Swing
United States Senate election in New York, 2010 [270]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Chuck Schumer 2,710,735 65.4%
Republican Jay Townsend 1,365,439 33.0%
Green Colia Clark 39,815 1.0%
Libertarian Randy Credico 25,975 0.6%
Total votes 4,141,964 100.0%
Democratic hold Swing
United States Senate election in New York, 2016 [271]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Chuck Schumer 4,775,604 61.34% N/A
Working Families Chuck Schumer 241,381 3.10% N/A
Independence Chuck Schumer 150,457 1.93% N/A
Women's Equality Chuck Schumer 45,297 0.58% N/A
Total Chuck Schumer 5,212,739 70.61% +2.97%
Republican Wendy Long 1,720,492 22.10% N/A
Conservative Wendy Long 267,186 3.43% N/A
Reform Wendy Long 17,781 0.23% N/A
Total Wendy Long 2,005,459 27.16% -0.58%
Green Robin Laverne Wilson 113,179 1.45% +0.45%
Libertarian Alex Merced 48,036 0.62% +0.02%
None Blank/Void/Scattering 406,189 5.22% N/A
Total votes 7,785,602 100.00%
Democratic hold Swing

Honorary degrees

Schumer has been awarded several honorary degrees in recognition of his political career. These include:

Location Date Institution Degree
 New York 1999 Hofstra University Doctorate [272]
 New York June 3, 1999 Hunter College Doctor of Humane Letters (DHL) [273]
 New York May 21, 2000 Adelphi University Doctor of Humane Letters (DHL) [274]
 New York June 2, 2002 New York Law School Doctor of Laws (LL.D) [275]
 New York May 2004 Pace University Doctor of Humane Letters (DHL) [276]
 New York October 21, 2007 Touro Law Center Juris Doctor (JD) [277]
 New York 2015 Brooklyn Law School Doctor of Laws (LL.D) [278]

See also


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