Democrats 'better stand for something,' says party's Senate leader

The top Senate Democrat said the party needs a strong economic message.

June 25, 2017, 1:49 PM

— -- Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said in the wake of his party's most recent loss in a congressional special election that Democrats "better stand for something."

Schumer told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on “This Week” Sunday that the party will this summer unveil a strong economic message that will appeal to the middle class and unite Democrats.

"Here’s the number one lesson from Georgia Sixth," Schumer said in reference to the Democratic loss in the special election last week in Georgia's Sixth District outside Atlanta.

"Democrats need a strong, bold, sharp-edged and commonsense economic agenda -- policy, platform, message that appeal to the middle class...and unite Democrats," the Senate minority leader said.

"I think if we come up with this strong, bold economic package, it will ... change things around," Schumer said. "People don’t like Trump; he’s at 40 percent [approval rating.] But they say, 'What the heck do the Democrats stand for?' We better stand for something, and it can’t be baby steps."

The New York senator also addressed the Senate health care bill unveiled by Republicans on Thursday, which he said stands about a 50 percent chance of passing.

“I think they have, at best, a 50-50 chance of passing this bill," Schumer said, adding that the legislation “is just devastating. And that’s what’s making it so hard for them to pass it.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell hopes to bring the bill to a vote on the Senate floor before the July 4 recess. So far five Republican senators have announced their opposition to the bill in its current form, leaving in question whether the bill can clear the 50-vote threshold for passage.

The GOP Senate leadership unveiled the legislation titled the Better Care Reconciliation Act on Thursday after negotiating behind closed doors. The private negotiations drew criticism and concern from Democratic senators and some Republicans.

Schumer told Stephanopoulos on “This Week” that he asked McConnell to bring the entire Senate together to work on the bill.

“Let Democrats and Republicans together, all 100 of us, meet in the old Senate chamber and discuss this," the Democratic senator said.

But, he said Senate GOP leaders "want to try it themselves first. If they fail, hopefully they’ll come sit down. They’ll stop sabotaging Obamacare and sit down with us and make Obamacare better.”

Related Topics

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events