Charles Ellis Schumer (//; born November 23, 1950) is an American politician of the Democratic Party serving as the senior United States Senator from New York, a seat he was first elected to in 1998. Since 2017 he also is the Senate Minority Leader. He first defeated three-term Republican incumbent Al D'Amato 55% to 44% before being reelected in 2004 with 71% of the vote, in 2010 with 66% of the vote, and in 2016 with 70% of the vote.
|Senate Minority Leader|
January 3, 2017
|Preceded by||Harry Reid|
|United States Senator
from New York
January 3, 1999
Serving with Kirsten Gillibrand
|Preceded by||Al D'Amato|
|Chair of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee|
January 3, 2011 – January 3, 2017
|Preceded by||Byron Dorgan|
|Succeeded by||Debbie Stabenow|
|Vice Chair of the Senate Democratic Caucus|
January 3, 2007 – January 3, 2017
|Preceded by||Position established|
|Succeeded by||Mark Warner
|Chair of the Senate Rules Committee|
January 3, 2009 – January 3, 2015
|Preceded by||Dianne Feinstein|
|Succeeded by||Roy Blunt|
|Chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee|
January 3, 2005 – January 3, 2009
|Preceded by||Jon Corzine|
|Succeeded by||Robert Menendez|
|Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from New York
January 3, 1981 – January 3, 1999
|Preceded by||Elizabeth Holtzman (16th)
Mario Biaggi (10th)
Thomas J. Manton (9th)
|Succeeded by||Charles Rangel (16th)
Edolphus Towns (10th)
Anthony Weiner (9th)
|Constituency||16th district (1981–83)
10th district (1983–93)
9th district (1993–99)
|Member of the New York State Assembly
from the 45th district
January 1, 1975 – December 31, 1980
|Preceded by||Stephen J. Solarz|
|Succeeded by||Daniel Feldman|
|Born||Charles Ellis Schumer
November 23, 1950
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Iris Weinshall (m. 1980)|
|Education||Harvard University (BA, JD)|
Before his election to the Senate, Schumer served in the 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 in 1993. A native of Brooklyn and graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, he was a three-term member of the New York State Assembly from 1975 to 1980.
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 was elected Vice Chairman of the Democratic Caucus in the Senate in 2006. In November 2010, he was also chosen to hold the additional role of chairman of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee. Schumer won his fourth term in the Senate in 2016 and was then unanimously elected Minority Leader to succeed the retiring Reid.
Family and early life
Schumer was born in Brooklyn, the son of Selma (née Rosen) and Abraham Schumer. His father ran an exterminating business, and his mother was a homemaker. His family is Jewish, and he is a second cousin, once removed, of actress Amy Schumer. His ancestors originated from the town of Chortkiv, Galicia, in what is now western Ukraine.
He attended public schools in Brooklyn, scoring a perfect 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. He attended Harvard College, where he became interested in politics and campaigned for Eugene McCarthy, in 1968. After completing his undergraduate degree, he continued to Harvard Law School, earning his Juris Doctor with honors, in 1974. Schumer passed the New York state bar in early 1975. However, he never practiced law, choosing instead a career in politics.
State assembly and Congressional tenure
In 1974, Schumer ran for and was elected to the New York State Assembly, filling a seat previously held by Schumer's mentor Steve Solarz. Schumer served three terms, from 1975 to 1981, sitting in the 181st, 182nd and 183rd New York State Legislatures. He has never lost an election.
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. 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."
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), of the Waco siege hearings in 1995.
United States senator
In 1998, Schumer ran for the Senate. He won the Democratic Senate primary with 51% of the votes against Geraldine Ferraro (21%) and Mark Green (19%). He then received 54% of the vote in the general election, defeating three-term incumbent Republican Al D'Amato (44%).
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. 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. Schumer defeated Mills, the second-place finisher, by 2.8 million votes and won reelection with 71% of the vote. Schumer won every county in the state except one, Hamilton County in the Adirondacks, the least populated and most Republican county in the state. Mills conceded defeat minutes after the polls closed, before returns had come in.
Notable former aides to Schumer include former US congressman Anthony Weiner; and current New York state senator Daniel Squadron and New York State assembly members Phil Goldfeder and Victor M. Pichardo.
Schumer's propensity for publicity is the subject of a running joke among many commentators. He has been described as an "incorrigible publicity hound". Bob Dole once quipped that "the most dangerous place in Washington is between Charles Schumer and a television camera", while Barack Obama joked that Schumer brought along the press to a banquet as his "loved ones". 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. Schumer has appeared as a guest on The Daily Show seven times.
In Washington, he has been the lead consensus-builder on the difficult issues of health care, immigration, and financial regulation.
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. 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. Although it was described as a "photobomb", it was not technically one as he was standing in the correct place. The Huffington Post quipped that, "clearly, inauguration day belonged to Chuck Schumer."
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. 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. 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. 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. 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.
Iran nuclear deal
On August 6, 2015, Schumer announced his opposition to the nuclear deal with Iran. 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". 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. 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.
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, and he voted for the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.
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".
While serving in the House of Representatives, Schumer, along with California senator Dianne Feinstein, authored the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban which expired in 2004. The National Rifle Association and other gun groups (see gun politics) have criticized him for allegedly not knowing much about guns, alluding to various errors regarding the subject. 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. 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.
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 their "Hero Awards" in 2008. Schumer is also a supporter of providing hunters with tax deductions for donating venison and other game to feeding programs. 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".
Schumer is pro-choice, and has been given a 100% rating by NARAL Pro-Choice America, though he received some criticism for attending a gala in 2007 hosted by Efrat— an organization that seeks to reduce abortion among Israeli Jews.
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.
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. The Canadian government has already banned the chemical in baby bottles and children's products. 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. 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.
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).
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.
Schumer has been a leader in the fight to continue fully funding the FIRE Grant program 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.
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.
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. 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.
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. 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 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." 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."
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.
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."
In December 2016, Schumer demanded a congressional inquiry into Russian meddling of U.S. affairs. 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. Later that month he introduced legislation to limit executive action on Russian sanctions.
In March 2009, Schumer announced his support for same-sex marriage, noting that it "was time". Schumer previously supported civil unions. At a private dinner with gay leaders at the Gramercy Tavern on March 22, 2009, Schumer said he not only now supports same-sex marriage, but also backs a full reversal of DOMA. 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.
Schumer was 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. 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.
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."
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.
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. 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.
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' Face the Nation, Schumer said that Gonzales "doesn't accept or doesn't understand that he is no longer just the president's lawyer." 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.
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.
In 2007, after Bush nominated former federal judge Michael Mukasey to become attorney general of the United States (replacing Gonzales, who was 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. 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. 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.
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% down payment.
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. 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.
Schumer's top nine campaign contributors are all financial institutions that have contributed over $2.5 million to the senator.
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 justifably acted and withdrew funds in the 11 days before IndyMac failed.
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.
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." 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.
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," saying, "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."
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." While opining that IndyMac's failure was only a matter of time, banking consultant Bert Ely termed Schumer's actions "wrong and irresponsible".
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. 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. 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.
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". 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."
Since 2010, the securities and investment industry has been the largest donor to Schumer's senatorial campaigns.
On December 14, 2008, a New York Times article 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.
The Charles Schumer-Rob Portman Senate bill of 2015 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".
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.
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. In 2010, however, Schumer suggested that a hedge-fund tax would be acceptable and not hurt the industry.
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."
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. One opinion website said the senators wanted "to disrupt [the] Silk Road drug website."
Schumer is a sponsor of S. 968, the controversial PROTECT IP Act which would restrict access to web sites judged to be infringing copyrights. 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. Some demonstrators complained that the bill had originated with wealthy campaign contributors who would reward legislators for passing the bill.
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.
Support for areas declared disasters
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. In 2009, a flash flood devastated the village, causing two deaths. Four feet of flood waters swept through the village, and caused much damage. The village was declared both a state and federal disaster site.
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.
In April 2014, the United States Senate debated the Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 2199; 113th Congress). It was a bill that "punishes employers for retaliating against workers who share wage information, puts the justification burden on employers as to why someone is paid less and allows workers to sue for punitive damages of wage discrimination." Democrats said they intended to use the votes on this bill and the issue of equal pay as political issues in the 2014 midterm elections. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) told reporters that "pay equity, that's women, that's 53 percent of the vote."
Controversy and criticism
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. He called on Israel to "strangle them economically until they see that's not the way to go". He explained 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." 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..."
Flight attendant incident
After being asked by a flight attendant to turn off his cell phone during take-off of a US Airways flight from New York to Washington D.C. on December 13, 2009, Schumer referred to the flight attendant as a "bitch." Schumer made the comment to fellow New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who was seated next to him, but was overheard by a Republican House aide who happened to be on the plane. After the story was reported on Politico.com, Schumer issued an apology through a spokesperson for the "off-the-cuff comment".
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. The remark was also criticized as "outrageous" by Ron Somers, head of the U.S.-India Business Council.
Schumer is noted for his love of cycling in New York City, especially around his home in Brooklyn. 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, which ran adjacent to the curb with a protection buffer provided by parallel-parked cars next to the bike lane. 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. In addition, a major Schumer campaign contributor has fought a controversial pro bono legal battle against the safety project, drawing criticism.
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. The staffer resigned and pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of computer fraud and was sentenced to 150 hours of community service. The supervisor resigned from the DSCC.
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.
During the week of December 16, 2016, Schumer fired the employees of the media team of the Senate Democratic caucus. A new viral version[clarification needed] of the social media division will be created to help Senate Democrats with winning future elections.
Senate minority leader
The Senate Democratic caucus elected Schumer minority leader in November 2016. Schumer was widely expected to lead Senate Democrats following the retirement announcement of his predecessor, Harry Reid. Schumer is the first New Yorker, as well as the first Jewish person, to serve as a Senate leader.
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.
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. Weinshall was New York City's commissioner of transportation, from 2000 to 2007. 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.
|Conservative (N.Y.)||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%|
|Socialist Workers||Rose Ana Berbeo||3,513||0.08%|
|Democratic gain from Republican|
|Working Families||Chuck Schumer||168,719|
|total||Chuck Schumer (Incumbent)||4,769,824||71.2%|
|Conservative (N.Y.)||Marilyn O'Grady||220,960||3.3%|
|Builders Party||Abe Hirschfeld||16,196||0.2%|
|Socialist Workers||Martin Koppel||14,811||0.2%|
|Working Families||Chuck Schumer||241,381||3.10%||N/A|
|Women's Equality||Chuck Schumer||45,297||0.58%||N/A|
|Conservative (N.Y.)||Wendy Long||267,186||3.43%||N/A|
|Green||Robin Laverne Wilson||113,179||1.45%||+0.45%|
Schumer has been awarded several honorary degrees in recognition of his political career. These include:
|United States||2 June 2002||New York Law School||Doctor of Laws (LL.D) |
|United States||May 2004||Pace University||Doctor of Humane Letters (DHL) |
|United States||2007||Touro Law Center||Juris Doctor (JD) |
|United States||2015||Brooklyn Law School||Doctor of Laws (LL.D) |
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...Ms. Schumer, who said she is second cousin to Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York.
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He is not my uncle, he is my dad's cousin, I don't even think they are first cousins.
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- Geeks Converge on NYC to Protest Anti-Piracy Bills; Thousands ditched their computers to protest anti-piracy bills outside the offices of New York senators Wednesday. Brian Ries reports on the fight for the future of the Internet. By Brian Ries, The Daily Beast, January 18, 2012
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- Chuck Schumer at Curlie (based on DMOZ)
- Senator Chuck Schumer interview from Fresh Air from WHYY at NPR, January 30, 2007
- Sound of one man voting: Chuck's 'voice' OKs border bill, Richard Sisk, New York Daily News August 12, 2010