NEW YORK — Chuck Schumer makes history as the first Jewish Senate majority leader and the first in the post from New York.
But he takes the reins at a time of historic challenges for the country.
Democrats must pass more COVID-19 relief legislation, hold Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial, and confirm President Biden’s Cabinet picks — all with the Senate evenly split between parties.
“We are urging our Republican colleagues to move nominations forward," Schumer told reporters Thursday. "With the crises we have — the economic crisis, the health care crisis, and all the other crises we face — we need to have people in place.”
But even as he looked ahead to the challenges immediately at hand, Schumer looked back at his journey to this top legislative spot.
“My father was an exterminator, my mother was a housewife and here I am, majority leader of the United States Senate," he said. "It’s an amazing, amazing country.”
The U.S. Senate is going into Democratic control, making New York @SenSchumer the first Majority Leader born in this state. Schumer reacted on the Senate floor a little while ago. #NY1Politics pic.twitter.com/VDUGfekipv— Spectrum News NY1 (@NY1) January 20, 2021
The gravity was not lost on him when he on the Senate floor.
When Sen. Patrick Leahy addressed him as "the majority leader," Schumer took a deep, sharp and emotional breath to mark the moment before responding.
Charles Ellis Schumer of Midwood, Brooklyn, began his lawmaking career at 24 in the New York State Assembly. He went on to the U.S. House and then the Senate.
Now, at 70, he’s in the Senate’s most powerful perch, his party also at the helm in the House and the White House.
Schumer prides himself on never forgetting where he came from. He visits each of New York’s 62 counties each year.
In November, when Biden’s victory was declared, Schumer celebrated in New York with an eye on the state that would give Democrats control of the Senate. He sang "Georgia on My Mind" to a crowd.
And earlier this month, despite his national ascent, he dropped in virtually to local community board meetings to remind New Yorkers of his advocacy.
“And last but not least, a great help to your district, is $325 billion in small-profit and non-profit relief,” he told members of Manhattan Community Board 6 in listing what he's working on.
Schumer pledges he’ll keep talking with everyday New Yorkers even as his responsibilities in Washington pile high.
“God gave me a lot of energy. And so I’m intending to be as active in New York as I’ve ever been," he told NY1. “People tell you things that they care about and then you can roll up their sleeves and try with legislation to improve their lot.”
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