Ever the New Yorker, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer delivered a speech at the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday night with the Statue of Liberty behind him, calling the monument a “symbol of freedom and a beacon of hope” but one that President Donald Trump has “demeaned.”
The Brooklynite, who has represented New York in the Senate since 1999, started the three-minute speech by noting that he can see Lady Liberty from his Park Slope apartment – but his eyes seemed focused on winning control of the U.S. Senate. It’s a goal that seems increasingly achievable for Democrats in November, and one that would likely make Schumer majority leader, increasing his already substantial power in Washington, D.C.
Schumer listed some of the party’s goals should Democratic nominee Joe Biden win the White House and Democrats control Congress, including making health care “affordable for all,” undoing “the vicious inequality of income and wealth that has plagued America for far too long” and – with a nod to the Statue of Liberty behind him – reforming the immigration system “so that immigrants, yearning to breathe free, will at last become American citizens.”
The goals weren’t wildly different from those shared by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in her speech later in the night. Ocasio-Cortez, who represents Queens and the Bronx, was one of two delegates chosen to deliver a nominating speech for U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders. It was essentially a procedural point before the roll call vote that would officially designate Biden as the party’s nominee, but Ocasio-Cortez used her one minute and 40 seconds to speak to the progressive movement that helped elect her to Congress in 2018 and continues to hold her up as a champion. She thanked the “mass people’s movement working to establish 21st century social, economic, and human rights including guaranteed health care, higher education, living wages and labor rights to all people in the United States.” Like Schumer, she used her brief time on air to highlight economic inequality, saying that the progressive movement realizes “the unsustainable brutality of an economy that rewards explosive inequalities of wealth for the few at the term of long-term stability for the many.”
While Ocasio-Cortez was there to nominate Sanders, her appearance was a sign of party unity going into the November election. She has repeatedly said she will vote for Biden in November, even as her home state is all but guaranteed to deliver its electoral votes for the nominee without her help. But her support for another senior party leader isn’t as clear cut – not long after Ocasio-Cortez took office, rumors started flying that she may be considering challenging Schumer when he’s up for reelection in 2022.
The state of New York had another moment on the digital convention proceedings when 1199SEIU nurse Scheena Iyande Tannis represented the Empire State in the roll call vote. With Lt. Kathy Hochul standing behind her and the Lower Manhattan skyline in the distance, Tannis cast 44 votes for Sanders and 277 for Biden. “It’s Joe time!” she said.
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