Chuck Schumer facts for kids
Quick facts for kids
Official portrait, 2017
|Senate Majority Leader|
January 20, 2021
|Preceded by||Mitch McConnell|
|Chair of the Senate Democratic Caucus|
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|
|Senate Minority Leader|
January 3, 2017 – January 20, 2021
|Preceded by||Harry Reid|
|Succeeded by||Mitch McConnell|
|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||Office established|
|Chairman 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|
|Succeeded by||Anthony Weiner|
|Member of the New York State Assembly
from the 45th district
January 1, 1975 – December 31, 1980
|Preceded by||Stephen Solarz|
|Succeeded by||Daniel L. Feldman|
Charles Ellis Schumer
November 23, 1950
New York City, U.S.
|Relatives||Amy Schumer (cousin)|
|Education||Harvard University (AB, JD)|
Charles Ellis Schumer (/ˈʃuːmər/ SHOO-mər; born November 23, 1950) is an American politician serving as Senate Majority Leader since January 20, 2021. A member of the Democratic Party, Schumer is in his fourth Senate term, having held his seat since 1999, and is the senior United States senator from New York. He is the dean of New York's congressional delegation.
- Early life and education (1950–1974)
- Political positions
- Personal life
- Honorary degrees
- See also
Early life and education (1950–1974)
Schumer was born in Midwood, Brooklyn, the son of Selma (née Rosen) and Abraham Schumer. His father ran an exterminating business, and his mother was a homemaker. He and his family are Jewish, and he is a second cousin, once removed, of comedian Amy Schumer. His ancestors originated from the town of Chortkiv, Galicia, in what is now western Ukraine.
Schumer attended Brooklyn public schools, scoring 1600 on the SAT and graduating as the valedictorian of James Madison High School in 1967. He competed for Madison High on the television quiz show It's Academic. He attended Harvard College, where he originally majored in chemistry before switching to social studies after volunteering on Eugene McCarthy's presidential campaign in 1968. After graduating magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa in 1971, Schumer attended Harvard Law School, earning his Juris Doctor with honors in 1974. He passed the New York state bar in early 1975, but never practiced law, choosing a career in politics instead.
A native of Brooklyn and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, Schumer was a three-term member of the New York State Assembly from 1975 to 1980. He served nine terms in the United States 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 ten years later. In 1998, Schumer was elected to the Senate, defeating three-term Republican incumbent Al D'Amato. He was reelected in 2004 with 71% of the vote, in 2010 with 66% of the vote, and in 2016 with 70% of the vote.
Schumer chaired the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee from 2005 to 2009, overseeing 14 Democratic gains in the Senate in the 2006 and 2008 elections. He was the third-ranking Democrat in the Senate, behind Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Majority Whip Dick Durbin. He served as Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus in the Senate from 2007 to 2017 and chaired the Senate Democratic Policy Committee from 2011 to 2017. Schumer won his fourth term in the Senate in 2016 and was then unanimously elected Democratic leader to succeed Harry Reid, who was retiring.
In January 2021, Schumer became Senate Majority Leader, and the first Jewish leader of either chamber of Congress.
Schumer served on the following Senate committees in the 115th United States Congress:
- Committee on Rules and Administration
- Select Committee on Intelligence (Ex officio)
- Afterschool Caucuses
- Congressional NextGen 9-1-1 Caucus
In March 2019, Schumer was one of 38 senators to sign a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue warning that dairy farmers "have continued to face market instability and are struggling to survive the fourth year of sustained low prices" and urging his department to "strongly encourage these farmers to consider the Dairy Margin Coverage program".
Schumer has given legislative attention to consumer issues. He 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 known as the "Schumer box". Schumer has also aggressively pushed to end the practice whereby customers can be charged two ATM fees, one by their own bank and one by the bank that owns the ATM, if the ATM is outside their bank's network.
With Representative Nita Lowey, Schumer has been working to ban the chemical bisphenol A (BPA), often found in baby bottles and plastic children's food containers. The Canadian government has already banned BPA 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 2009 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 championed 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.
Schumer received an "A" grade on the 2008 Drum Major Institute's Congressional Scorecard on middle-class issues.
In October 2013, Schumer announced his support for a proposal ending restrictions on shipping beer, wine, and spirits through the U.S. Postal Service, saying it would "help keep local post offices open by bringing in an estimated $225 million in new revenues to the USPS" and broaden the availability of beers and wines to consumers.
In 2013, Schumer said the death penalty would be "appropriate" in the case of the Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the perpetrator of the Boston Marathon bombing. "The federal law allows the death penalty. ... I wrote the law in 1994 when I was head of the crime subcommittee in the House. This is just the kind of case that it should be applied to."
In 2014, Schumer was recognized for helping to achieve the award of $700,000 in compensation from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for Gowanda, New York, as a result of the devastating flood there in 2009. A flash flood devastated the village, causing two deaths. Four feet of flood waters swept through the village, and caused much damage. Gowanda was declared both a state and federal disaster site.
Of the anticipated disbursement of FEMA monies to Gowanda, Schumer said:
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 March 2002, as the Senate worked on a compromise to save an election reform bill that stalled due to Republicans' believing it was not combative enough against voter fraud, Schumer and Senator Ron Wyden led a successful effort in protecting an amendment allowing first-time voters to be verified with only a signature.
In April 2014, the United States Senate debated the Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 2199; 113th Congress), a bill aimed at addressing the gender pay gap in the United States. Republicans argued that the Democrats were attempting to use the votes on this bill and the issue of equal pay as political issues in the 2014 midterm elections. Schumer backed the measure and told reporters, "pay equity, that's women, that's 53 percent of the vote".
Financial industry regulation
In 1987, then-Representative Schumer wrote a New York Times op-ed opposing repeal of the Glass–Steagall Act of 1933, titled "Don't Let Banks Become Casinos". In 1999, Schumer supported Congress's repeal of Glass–Steagall, saying: "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.
According to a December 14, 2008, New York Times article on Schumer's role in the Wall Street meltdown, 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 taxes or fees. The article claimed that Schumer succeeded in limiting efforts to reform and regulate credit-rating agencies the George W. Bush administration and the SEC had proposed.
The Charles Schumer-Rob Portman Senate bill of 2015 proposed to tax the $2.2 trillion multinational corporations are holding outside the country in tax-haven subsidiaries, on which 35% was 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, Bernie Madoff whistleblower Harry Markopolos passed along an unsourced claim that Schumer called the SEC for information about the Madoff investigation. Schumer denied this.
In response to The American Prospect’s Day One Agenda, Schumer announced a new stance on eliminating student debt. In November 2020, he said, “I have a proposal with Elizabeth Warren that the first $50,000 of debt be vanquished, and we believe that Joe Biden can do that with the pen as opposed to legislation".
In 1994, then-Representative Schumer and Senator Dianne Feinstein authored the Assault Weapons Ban. Supporters of gun control legislation give Schumer 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 its "Hero Awards" in 2008. He supports tax deductions for hunters who donate venison and other game to feeding programs. In response to a question at a debate during his 2010 reelection campaign, Schumer denied having a handgun or a permit for one. He has produced a letter from the NYPD stating that neither he nor his wife, Iris Weinshall, has a handgun license from NYC. Schumer aide Brian Fallon said, "except for winning an NRA marksmanship award at age 14, the senator does not own a gun or have a license to carry one".
In February 2018, Schumer was one of four Democratic senators to sign a letter to Trump asserting that were he "to endorse legislation to require a background check on every gun purchase, without other poison pill provisions attached, we could finally move much closer towards the comprehensive system that you called for after the Stoneman Douglas attack" and that there was no justification for allowing people denied firearms by federally licensed dealers to "simply visit a gun show or go online to purchase the same gun that they were denied at the store".
In January 2019, Schumer was one of 40 senators to introduce the Background Check Expansion Act, which would require background checks for either the sale or transfer of all firearms including all unlicensed sellers. Exceptions to the bill's background check requirement included transfers between members of law enforcement, loaning firearms for either hunting or sporting events on a temporary basis, providing firearms as gifts to members of one's immediate family, firearms transferred as part of an inheritance, or giving a firearm to another person temporarily for immediate self-defense.
In March 2004, Schumer, Jon Corzine, Ted Kennedy, and Frank Lautenberg signed a letter to President Bush urging him to instruct staff to avoid taking action against whistleblower Richard Foster after Foster spoke out on the subject of White House efforts intended to keep Congress unaware of alternative higher cost estimates for the new Medicare prescription drug program.
Schumer supported Obama's health reform legislation; he voted for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in December 2009 and for the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.
In 2009, Schumer 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 said he wanted "a level playing field for competition".
In May 2017, in response to an amendment by Fred Upton to the American Health Care Act, Schumer released a statement saying the amendment "leaves Americans with pre-existing conditions as vulnerable as they were before under this bill" and compared it to "administering cough medicine to someone with stage 4 cancer". After the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) showed the American Health Care Act would cause millions of Americans to lose health coverage, Schumer said, "Republicans in Washington and the president should read this report cover to cover, throw their bill in the trash can and begin working with Democrats on a real plan to lower costs for the American people." In June, Schumer sent McConnell a letter requesting that all senators meet to discuss the American Health Care Act, citing the need for both parties to "come together to find solutions to America's challenges". Later that month, Schumer estimated the bill had a 50% chance of passing the Senate and added that Democrats were doing everything they could to fight the measure, calling the legislation "devastating for the middle class".
In 1995, Schumer sponsored the Omnibus Counterterrorism Act of 1995 (H.R. 896) in the House of Representatives.
As a senator, 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 New York'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.
In November 2001, Schumer announced hearings on George W. Bush's decision to try terrorists in military tribunals amid Washington concerns that Bush would skip the American legal system in handling such cases. Schumer said the hearing's two goals were to ascertain whether Bush had the power to form a tribunal apart from an attempt at interacting with Congress and whether a military tribunal was the most efficient instrument.
In August 2004, after American officials leaked the arrest of Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan to reporters, Schumer said he was troubled by the decision to reveal Khan's identity, citing the fact that the public had learned little of Khan's role in providing the information that led Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge to announce a higher terror alert level.
Schumer supported continuing to fully fund the FIRE Grant program the Federal Emergency Management Agency administered. 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 Republicans like Representative Peter T. King, to stop a deal the Bush administration approved to transfer control of six U.S. 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 before 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.
In March 2018, Schumer said the bipartisan legislation sponsored by Bob Casey and Pat Toomey would assist the children of deceased first respondents afford college by increasing the availability of Pell grant funding.
In August 2018, Schumer announced that the Senate had passed $1 million in FY2019 funding for the national firefighter cancer registry as an amendment to the upcoming FY2019 Health and Human Services minibus appropriations bill. He said firefighters needed "first-rate medical care and treatment" for the work they did and the registry would help "researchers track, treat, and eventually prevent firefighters being stricken by cancer".
Schumer is 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, Schumer introduced SB 1070, a bill that would kill Arizona's anti-immigration law, and ones like it if the Supreme Court ruled 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."
In January 2018, Schumer stated that any agreement on the status of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals before its March expiration would have to be included in the spending bill. Schumer offered Trump congressional approval of more than $20 billion for his border wall in exchange for protecting recipients of DACA. Trump declined the offer. A week later, Schumer announced that conversations on immigration and border security were resuming between the White House and himself. In a March CNN op-ed, Schumer wrote that Trump had stood in the way of progress on "compromise proposals that both sides should be proud of" and charged Trump and the White House with using Dreamers as "bargaining chips to push forward their anti-immigrant agenda". He called on Trump to change course and said Americans would be aware that he was behind the prevention of Congress from settling the matter. In June, before a planned meeting between Trump and House Republicans for discussions on the compromise immigration bill, Schumer warned that House moderates would lose credibility if they succumbed to pressure and enacted "the hard right's agenda".
Schumer voted for the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 1996. He opposed the Federal Marriage Amendment, saying in 2004 that DOMA made it obsolete.
In March 2009, Schumer announced his support for same-sex marriage, noting that it "was time". He previously supported civil unions. At a private dinner with gay leaders on March 22, 2009, Schumer said he not only supported same-sex marriage, he also backed a full reversal of DOMA. When the New York State Senate took up a bill to legalize gay marriage in December 2009, Schumer and other statewide officials aggressively lobbied wavering senators to support the legislation.
Student loan forgiveness
Schumer supports the cancellation of $50,000 or more in federal student loan debt for every borrower by executive action.
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.
After the March 2007 meltdown of the subprime mortgage industry, Schumer proposed a federal government bailout of subprime borrowers 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 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 move 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.
Taxes on high incomes
Schumer had been a staunch defender of low taxes on hedge fund and private equity managers in the mid-2000s, arguing that this was necessary to protect the industry. Then 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. But in 2010, he suggested that a hedge-fund tax would be acceptable and not hurt the industry.
In February 2012, Schumer at first said 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 floor instead. According to Schumer, "in large parts of the country, that kind of income does not get you a big home or lots of vacations or anything else that is associated with wealth." He later stood by the assertion but also said that raising taxes on those making more than $250,000 was necessary to bring in enough revenue.
Technology and the Internet
In June 2011, Schumer and Senator Joe Manchin sought a crackdown on Bitcoin, saying it facilitated illegal transactions.
Schumer is a sponsor of S. 968, the controversial PROTECT IP Act, which would restrict access to websites 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, 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 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.
In January 2007, Schumer published a book, Positively American: Winning Back the Middle-Class Majority One Family at a Time, outlining strategies by which Democrats could court middle-class voters. One of his aides at the time, Daniel Squadron, helped write it, and they drew from Schumer's experience helping his party win in the 2006 midterm elections.
Schumer and his wife, Iris Weinshall, were married on September 21, 1980. The ceremony took place at Windows on the World atop the north tower of the World Trade Center. Weinshall was New York City's commissioner of transportation from 2000 to 2007. Schumer and Weinshall live in Park Slope near Grand Army Plaza.
The Schumers have two children, Jessica and Alison, both graduates of their father's alma mater, Harvard College. Jessica, served as chief of staff and general counsel of the Council of Economic Advisers from May 2013 to August 2015. Alison is a marketing manager in Facebook's New York office. In 2018, Jessica gave birth to a son, making Schumer a grandfather.
Schumer has been awarded several honorary degrees in recognition of his political career. These include:
|New York||1999||Hofstra University||Doctorate|
|New York||June 3, 1999||Hunter College||Doctor of Humane Letters (DHL)|
|New York||May 21, 2000||Adelphi University||Doctor of Humane Letters (DHL)|
|New York||June 2, 2002||New York Law School||Doctor of Laws (LL.D)|
|New York||May 2004||Pace University||Doctor of Humane Letters (DHL)|
|New York||October 21, 2007||Touro Law Center||Juris Doctor (JD)|
|New York||2015||Brooklyn Law School||Doctor of Laws (LL.D)|
- In Spanish: Chuck Schumer
- List of Jewish members of the United States Congress