U.S. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer

U.S. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer touched on several important topics in a Feb. 12 talk at the University of Louisville.

He discussed bipartisan leadership, federal budgets, student debt, immigration reform and jobs during his visit as part of the McConnell Center’s Distinguished Speaker Series.

Schumer, D-NY, said he supports programs that take aim against high levels of student debt and would like to see lower interest rates for student loans. He also said he believes in strong support of colleges and universities, especially as the nation continues to move toward an “ideas” economy.

“A focus on higher education is needed more than ever before,” Schumer said. “It is our future.”

Schumer also delivered a surprise to UofL sophomore Jasper Noble when he announced that Noble was selected to be an intern in the Democratic leader’s office over the summer. Noble is a McConnell Scholar majoring in political science, history and philosophy.

Introduced to an audience of nearly 400 by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Schumer stressed that the two party leaders “can and do work together” to tackle important issues. He cited the Feb. 7 two-year bipartisan budget as a good example of how he and McConnell have recently worked together.

“We try our best to understand each other; to be honest and respectful,” Schumer said.

In his introduction of Schumer, McConnell shared similar thoughts about bipartisan problem solving. “Washington may look like a pretty divided place but, actually, the Senate is a pretty collegial place,” McConnell said.

This is the second time the McConnell Center has had both Senate leaders on the stage, said Gary Gregg, who directs the Center. The last time was in 2007 when former Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., was a McConnell Center guest.

The Center has hosted many political leaders since 1993. Past speakers include U.S. President George W. Bush; U.S. Secretarys of State Hillary Clinton, Madeleine Albright and Colin Powell; Senators Ted Kennedy, John McCain, Marco Rubio and many others.

In addition to giving a public talk, guests who come to UofL as part of the center’s Distinguished Speaker Series meet privately with UofL students who are part of the McConnell Scholars program.

Check out video from Schumer’s talk below: