Just two weeks ago, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer noted he had not spoken with President Trump since Inauguration Day in January.
But after his second White House meeting with the president in as many weeks, it’s now obvious that a new relationship has emerged in Washington.
The senator told reporters in Buffalo Friday morning that his new bond with Trump is “businesslike but not antagonistic.” He said he is optimistic about the results of new cooperation, and that bipartisan dinners like the one he had in the White House this week gathering over Chinese food is good for the country.
“When any president of any party tries to work only with his or her party, you don’t do very well,” Schumer said at an appearance at Buffalo Harbor State Park. “Better to work in the middle in a bipartisan way.”
Earlier this year, Trump labeled his fellow New Yorker a “crybaby.”
But Schumer seems unfazed by his new “friendship” with the president, as he and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi signal progress in their meetings with Trump on immigration and the nation’s debt limit.
A hot mic caught Schumer earlier this week observing that Trump "likes" him.
“He’s flattered me and it hasn’t affected me, and he’s called me names and it hasn’t affected me,” Schumer said in Buffalo. “I just want to keep it on the merits. And right now, we’re working together on some good things.”
Schumer and Pelosi tentatively agreed with the president on Wednesday to the concept of protecting the legal status of young, undocumented immigrants without any immediate accord on the Mexican border wall that ranks as a top priority for Trump. While some confusion ensued on the extent of their agreement, Schumer said Friday he believes he and Pelosi sealed a deal with the author of “The Art of the Deal.”
“Bottom line is the president gave his word in that meeting and I believe he’ll keep his word,” Schumer said.
The senator, visiting Safe Harbor Marina to announce support for legislation aiding the Great Lakes sport fishing industry, touched on a variety of topics during a half hour stay that included chatting with surprised patrons at Charlie’s Boat Yard restaurant.
On other topics, Schumer had these observations:
Flight 3407 regulations: Schumer encountered John and Marilyn Kausner, parents of a victim of the fatal commuter flight that crashed in Clarence in 2009 and claimed 50 lives. The chance meeting as the Kausners headed toward their boat follows new efforts to relax pilot training standards successfully sought by Flight 3407 families.
Schumer assured the couple, whose daughter Ellyce was among the Flight 3407 victims, that efforts will fail to reverse new regulations requiring pilots of regional airlines to accumulate at least 1,500 hours of flight time.
“If the pilots were well trained, those 50 people would be alive,” he said, adding that any bill attempting to relax the standards long sought by the families is “dead in the water.”
“Hear that loud and clear,” Schumer said.
The senator also noted that while an advisory panel to the Federal Aviation Administration has recommended the relaxed requirements, it cannot reverse adopted legislation through executive order.
“They can try to get around it by executive order...we will stop it,” he said, noting that no fatal crashes have occurred in the United States since the Continental Connection incident in 2009.
That development, he said, is not a coincidence.
“This is one of those issues for which we have proof, almost, that when we don’t do this, death results,” he said.
Marilyn Kausner told reporters she and her husband continue to support Schumer’s efforts and that regional carriers should be forced to follow the same requirements as major airlines.
“We know they’ve been trying to roll back the regulations, but the major airlines have done it for years with great success,” she said. “We’re talking human life here.
“If you had to pay five more dollars to have a qualified pilot in the seat of an airplane, who wouldn’t to that?” she added. “We’ll fight as long as we have breath.”
Equifax: Schumer said the news that hackers have infiltrated the Equifax credit reporting bureau and exposed 143 million people “infuriates me.”
“They had an extra obligation to protect us, and they didn’t,” he said, labeling the firm’s performance as “awful.”
“First they tried to hide it and now they’re telling us we’re on our own,” he fumed.
The senator said unless the firm fulfills within a week several demands he has issued to address the situation he will demand the resignation of its chief executive officer and board of directors.
Great Lakes: Schumer joined tourism and sport fishing officials to support infrastructure improvements to Lake Erie’s fisheries. A bill he has co-sponsored, which he estimates would cost around $100 million and stands a good chance of passage, would provide grants to repair or replace aging dams, culverts and roads that inhibit movement of fish populations.
He noted that Buffalo landed the 2018 Costa Fishing League World Series that will enhance the current $80 million annual impact of sport fishing in Erie County. More than 1,200 hotel rooms are already booked for the summer event, he said.
The new fisheries bill, he said, is sponsored by several other Great Lakes senators and stands in addition to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative that funds anti-pollution and other efforts throughout the region. He said that although the Trump administration has proposed significant reductions in the initiative program, he is confident Congress will block the attempt and restore the funds.
Schumer was joined at the event by Patrick Kaler, executive director of Visit Buffalo Niagara; Scott Callen, president of WNY Bassmasters, and Jeff Leible, chairman of Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper.