By Joseph Lyell —

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said Senator Rand Paul’s opposition to last week’s federal budget is “very hollow” in a campus speech Feb. 12. Schumer delivered the keynote address for the McConnell Center’s distinguished speaker lecture series to a packed Bigelow Hall.

“How do you respond to Senator Rand Paul’s comments that bipartisanship that increases spending, both foreign and domestic, is not the kind of bipartisanship we need?” An audience member asked.

Schumer said the new budget increases the deficit by about $300 billion.

Paul voted for the December tax reform bill that added $1.5 trillion to the deficit with a variety of tax cuts.

Paul opposed the two-year federal budget last week.

“If you’re a deficit hawk, you’ve got to be a deficit hawk all the way through,” Schumer said. He said if Paul had voted against tax reform because it increased the deficit, then his protest against the new budget would ring true.

Schumer said senators can’t be worried about the deficit on some issues but not others. To bring the deficit down, he said it will have to be considered in all bills.

In the next week, Schumer said the senate would be looking at one of the most contentious issues they face: immigration.

He credited Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for tackling the bill with a bipartisan approach.

“Democrats and Republicans are laboring to find a bill to protect the dreamers and provide border security, and garner 60 votes,” Schumer said.

Schumer also talked about striking deals with McConnell. He said middle ground can’t always be found, but both sides need to be open to compromise.

“Sometimes it doesn’t happen. It’s no secret I didn’t agree with the way healthcare and tax legislation were considered in the senate,” Schumer said.

He said the new two-year budget showcases effective compromise. He said this bill provides funding to fight the opioid epidemic, provide veterans with health care and relieve young Americans of some student loan debt.

Schumer listed the April 2017 budget, sanctions against Russia for 2016 election interference and the new budget as three important deals he struck with McConnell.

Introducing Schumer, McConnell cited Schumer’s memoir, which said his mother and father didn’t want him to run for office.

“Chuck, I’ve got to say, my life would’ve been a lot easier if only you’d listened to your parents,” he said.

McConnell said the two have a good relationship, despite what the media shows. Schumer agreed, saying they often talk about U of L basketball.

“Every Monday I come back and say, ‘How’s Louisville doing, where are they in the rankings?’ — I don’t ask him this year as much,” Schumer said.

Schumer presented McConnell with a bottle of Widow Jane bourbon, bottled in his New York neighborhood.

McConnell accepted, but told Schumer, “There’s no such thing as Brooklyn bourbon.”

Photo by Joseph Lyell / The Louisville Cardinal