Justin Murphy, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer visited Rochester on Wednesday, enumerating the bounty of recent federal stimulus funding and promising even further spending in President Joe Biden’s proposed $2 trillion infrastructure bill.
The American Rescue Plan that Congress passed last month includes an array of direct and indirect payments to individuals and state and local governments, including $1,400 stimulus checks, an expanded child tax credit and earned income tax credit, and large payments to municipalities and school districts.
“Just about every aspect of life that was hurt by COVID will come bouncing back thanks to these dollars,” he said.
Schumer said he supports making the child tax credit permanent, a step that nonprofit The Children’s Agenda CEO Larry Marx encouraged.
“We’re witnessing history in the making,” Marx said. “Just as in 1935 this country made a commitment to its senior citizens … we are on the verge of life-changing supports for those families who most need it in our country.”
Schumer also touted a provision that provides relief to performing arts venues and other artistic organizations. He spoke at the Bug Jar, a longtime counterculture mainstay in the Rochester arts scene that collected about $23,000 from patron-donors to avoid going out of business.
“I hear Lizzo was here,” the 70-year-old senator said, his khakis neatly creased, a quarter-zip sweater layered under a mocha blazer. “Wow, must be a hip place.”
Schumer offered to come back and sing when the Bug Jar reopens this summer. Co-owner Aaron Gibalski’s reaction was obscured beneath his mask.
The next big job for the Democratic majority leader will be passing Biden’s major new infrastructure plan, called the American Jobs Plan.
That legislation, which Biden formally unveiled Wednesday in Pittsburgh, would invest $2 trillion in energy and transportation infrastructure upgrades, among other things.
Schumer called it “a big, bold bill that will drive Americans forward for decades to come.”
He said he hopes it could include a provision eliminating the $10,000 cap on state and local income tax deductions, which has hurt high-tax states like New York.
The measure, part of the 2017 tax reform approved by the Republican-led Congress and then-President Donald Trump, has been vilified by Democrats, but they have been unable to undo it.
Now, with Democrats in charge of Congress and the White House, Schumer has talked about having the repeal of so-called SALT as part of the infrastructure package, which would include higher taxes on corporations.
Schumer’s press conference happened just hours after Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law the legalization of marijuana in New York. Schumer said he and other federal lawmakers soon will introduce a bill to decriminalize marijuana on the federal level.
He touted the amount of federal relief money targeted to New York state but declined to say whether that largesse should blunt calls for a tax hike on billionaires in the state.
“My job was to get them the money,” Schumer said. “Now they have to decide what to do.”