|United States Senator
from New York
January 3, 1999
Serving with Kirsten Gillibrand
|Preceded by||Al D'Amato|
|Chairperson of the Senate Rules Committee|
January 3, 2009 – January 3, 2015
|Preceded by||Dianne Feinstein|
|Succeeded by||Roy Blunt|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 9th district
January 3, 1993 – January 3, 1999
|Preceded by||Thomas Manton|
|Succeeded by||Anthony Weiner|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 10th district
January 3, 1983 – January 3, 1993
|Preceded by||Mario Biaggi|
|Succeeded by||Edolphus Towns|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 16th district
January 3, 1981 – January 3, 1983
|Preceded by||Elizabeth Holtzman|
|Succeeded by||Charles Rangel|
|Member of the New York State Assembly
from the 45th district
January 1, 1975 – December 31, 1980
|Preceded by||Stephen Solarz|
|Succeeded by||Daniel Feldman|
|Born||Charles Ellis Schumer
November 23, 1950
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Alma mater||Harvard University|
Charles Ellis "Chuck" Schumer (//; born November 23, 1950) is the senior United States Senator from New York and a member of the Democratic Party. First elected in 1998, he defeated three-term Republican incumbent Al D'Amato by a margin of 55%–44%. Schumer was re-elected in 2004 by a margin of 71%–24% and in 2010 by a margin of 66%–33%.
Before his election to the U.S. Senate, Schumer served in the US House of Representatives from 1981 to 1999, representing New York's 16th congressional district, later redistricted to the 10th congressional district in 1983 and to the 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, serving from 1975 to 1980.
Schumer was chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee from 2005 to 2009, in which post he oversaw a total of 14 Democratic gains in the Senate in the 2006 and 2008 elections. He is the third-ranking Democrat in the Senate, behind Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin, 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 starting at the opening of the 112th Congress.
- 1 Early life and education
- 2 State Assemblyman and Congressman
- 3 United States Senator
- 4 Political positions
- 4.1 Health care reform
- 4.2 Gun control
- 4.3 Abortion
- 4.4 Consumer issues
- 4.5 Homeland security
- 4.6 Foreign policy
- 4.7 Same-sex marriage
- 4.8 Immigration
- 4.9 Clinton impeachment
- 4.10 U.S. Attorney firings
- 4.11 Mukasey nomination
- 4.12 Subprime mortgage and foreclosure crisis
- 4.13 IndyMac Bank controversy
- 4.14 Financial industry regulation
- 4.15 Taxes on high incomes
- 4.16 Technology and the Internet
- 4.17 Support for areas declared disasters
- 4.18 Equal pay
- 4.19 Budget
- 5 Controversy & criticism
- 6 Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee
- 7 Book
- 8 Personal life
- 9 Electoral history
- 10 References
- 11 Further reading
- 12 External links
Early life and education
Schumer was born in Brooklyn, the son of Selma (née Rosen) and Abraham Schumer. His family is Jewish. He attended public schools in Brooklyn, scoring a perfect 1600 on the SAT, and graduated as the 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 Exam in early 1975, but never practiced law, entering politics instead.
State Assemblyman and Congressman
In 1974, Schumer ran for and was elected to the New York State Assembly, becoming, at age 23, the youngest member of the New York legislature since Theodore Roosevelt. He served three terms, from 1975–1980. 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 his mentor, veteran Brooklyn congressman Steve Solarz. 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 Senate. He won the Democratic Senate primary with 51 percent of the votes against Geraldine Ferraro (21 percent) and Mark Green (19 percent). He then received 54 percent of the vote in the general election, defeating three-term incumbent Republican Al D'Amato (44 percent).
In 2004, Schumer won re-election against Republican Assemblyman Howard Mills of Middletown and Conservative Marilyn 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 percent 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.
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. In Washington, he has been the lead consensus-builder on the difficult issues of health care, immigration, and financial regulation. Schumer has appeared as a guest on The Daily Show seven times.
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 12 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.
- Committee on Finance;
- Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs;
- Committee on the Judiciary;
- Committee on Rules and Administration (Chairman);
- Joint Committee on the Library (Vice Chair);
- Joint Committee on Printing (Chairman);
- Joint Economic Committee (Vice Chair);
- International Narcotics Control Caucus;
- Joint Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies (Chair).
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, pointing 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 possessing 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 the NRA-lobby, Schumer has supported hunters, sponsoring legislation to provide millions in outdoor recreation grants to landowners who allow hunting and fishing on their private property. Field and Stream Magazine designated Schumer one of its 2008 Hero Awards for his efforts. 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 hand gun or a permit for one and has produced a letter from NYPD stating that neither he nor his wife Iris Weinshall has a hand-gun 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 has given legislative attention on 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 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 (AARA).
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 New York to support the state's security and recovery efforts after the 9/11 terrorist attack 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 appparatus 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 September 11, 2001 attacks on World Trade Center and the Pentagon. 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, is an American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) member, 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 has criticized Schumer for his stance on the issue of torture.
The senator also is involved with legislation to address the Darfur genocide. In 2009, he cosponsored 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 antimissile 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 on June 10, 2008 regarding the article. In their letter they wrote "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 Lockerbie 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 March 2009 Sen. Schumer announced his support for same-sex marriage, noting that it "was time". Schumer previously supported civil unions. At a private risotto 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 state-wide officials, aggressively lobbied wavering senators to support the legislation.
Schumer is the head of the subcommittee on immigration and has opposed states' taking immigration enforcement into their own hands. Schumer has received an 8% rating from the USBC, indicating an open-border stance.
In April 2012, he introduced a bill that would kill the Arizona state law 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.
The other members of Congress to vote in both houses were Jim Bunning (R-Kentucky) and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho). All three had been US House members elected to the US Senate in the 1998 elections. Bunning and Crapo voted "yes" on all four counts in the House and "guilty" on the two impeachment charges in the Senate.
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.
Gonzales resigned on September 17, and Schumer personally introduced Bush's choice to replace Gonzales with former federal judge Michael 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.
Schumer voted to recommend Michael Mukasey for confirmation as U.S. Attorney General. Schumer, along with fellow Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, 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 GSEs to back mortgages on homes priced up to $780,000 with a 20-percent 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 resultant decreases in neighboring home values. As part of a package of regulatory reforms 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.
IndyMac Bank controversy
On June 26, 2008, Senator Schumer took the extraordinary step of publicly releasing letters he had written to regulators regarding IndyMac Bank, the seventh largest Savings and Loan and the ninth largest originator of mortgage loans in the United States and 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 a story suggesting that Senator Schumer's letter may have been prompted by an investment company's interest in IndyMac. His reported close ties to the Founders of One West 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, 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
Then-congressman Schumer in 1987, in opposition to the repeal of the Glass–Steagall Act of 1933, wrote in a New York Times op-ed: Don't Let Banks Become Casinos, wrote “Citing the pressures of rigorous worldwide competition in financial services, large American banks are pleading for the repeal of the Glass–Steagall Act, a law that keeps banks out of the more volatile and risky world of securities transactions. Their entreaties should be resisted..."
Senator Schumer in 1999, in support of Congress’s repeal of the Glass–Steagall Act of 1933, commented: "There are many reasons for this bill, but first and foremost is to ensure that U.S. financial firms remain competitive."
The Securities and Investment industry is the largest donor to Schumer’s senatorial campaigns.
On December 14, 2008, the New York Times published an article on Schumer's role in the Wall Street meltdown. The article stated that Schumer embraced the industry’s free-market, deregulatory agenda more than any other Democrat in Congress, even backing measures now blamed for contributing to the financial crisis. Schumer took steps to protect industry players from government oversight and tougher rules, a review of his record shows. Over the years, he has also helped save financial institutions billions of dollars in higher taxes or fees. He succeeded in limiting efforts to regulate credit-rating agencies. This article also charged that Schumer blocked ratings agencies reforms proposed by the Bush Administration and the Cox SEC.
In his book released in March 2010, "No One Would Listen," Madoff whistleblower Harry Markopolos passes 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 1991, when President George H. W. Bush proposed placing the DARPA network into the public domain, Schumer argued that "it would be a waste of the taxpayers' money" to essentially give away the Defence Department technology. The DARPAnet became the basis for 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," using 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."
PolitiFact rated Schumer's 2009 statement about the efficacy of Democrats' earmark reforms "false."
Controversy & criticism
Schumer, speaking at an Orthodox Union event in Washington D.C, in June 2010, made comments that were later criticized regarding Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip. 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 called the flight attendant 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 U.S. Senate floor, New York Democrat Charles 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 by the United States-India Business Council. Ron Somers, head of the USIBC, said that the remark was "outrageous in this day in age [sic], when the world is so interconnected by the Internet, that draconian measures would be floated by the U.S. Congress that tar-brushes Indian companies as ‘chop shops'.”"
Schumer is noted for his love of bicycling around his home town of Brooklyn, New York. However, in 2011 he was reported to have joined with a group of residents of his street in Park Slope, Brooklyn to have successful street safety improvements removed from the street in front of his home. 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 street safety improvements, 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 candidates for the Democrats 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 pled 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 Democrats lost only Tennessee. The incoming Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid persuaded Schumer to continue to serve another term as DSCC chair.
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 the New York City 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, is Chief of Staff and General Counsel of the Council of Economic Advisers. Schumer told a Utica television station that his father was brought up in the Utica area.
1998 New York United States Senate election
1998 New York United States Senate Democratic primary election
|Chuck Schumer 51%|
|Geraldine Ferraro 21%|
|Mark J. Green 19%|
1998 New York United States Senate general election
|Chuck Schumer (D) 55%|
|Al D'Amato (R) (inc.) 44%|
2004 New York United States Senate election
|Chuck Schumer (D) (inc.) 70.6%|
|Howard Mills III (Republican) 24.6%|
|Marilyn F. O'Grady (Conservative) 3.4%|
|David McReynolds (Green) 0.5%|
|Donald Silberger (Lib.) 0.3%|
|Abraham Hirschfeld (Builders Party) 0.2%|
|Martin Koppel (Socialist Workers) 0.2%|
2010 New York United States Senate election
|Chuck Schumer (D-Inc.) 3,047,775 – 67%
|Jay Townsend (R) 1,480,337 – 33%|
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|Wikisource has original works written by or about:
- 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