WASHINGTON, D.C.–Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid released the following statement today in honor of President George W. Bush’s Inauguration.
*Remarks as prepared
“Every four years, Inaugurations fill Washington with a fresh spirit and the potential of new beginnings. We put aside political differences and honor the office of the American presidency while looking forward to the promise that lies ahead for our great nation.
“It is my sincerest hope that today will usher in a new beginning in Washington – that the partisan rancor and squabbling will now give way to a spirit of bipartisanship.
“We did not get the much promised “new tone” in Washington over the last four years, but that does not mean it cannot change now. And I hope it does. This country needs some unification. We’ve been divided far too long.
“The morning following the 2004 campaign, President Bush called me, and with the election behind him, pledged that he was committed to reaching across the aisle. We heard more about that same commitment in his speech today. I very much appreciated his call and the pleasant conversation we had.
“I trust and hope the President is sincere in this pledge. The American people are counting on us, and we must all work together to tackle the challenges that lie ahead. Democrats will never shy away from living up to our values and our priorities, and if the President is serious about working with us, we stand ready to work with him.
“President Bush took an oath today to uphold the Constitutional, and during his remarks praised the wisdom contained in the document. It is that same Constitution that lays forth the separation of powers within our government, and the duties of office for each of us as members of the Senate. It is our Constitutional responsibility as Senators to advise and consent and it is an obligation we owe to the American public. Just as I’m sure President Bush holds the oath he took today to be sacred, so do we as Senators. And we will not let the American people down.
“We may be elected as Democrats and Republicans, but we serve as Americans. And there are many areas where we can find common ground. I look forward to leading the Democratic caucus and working personally with the President and my Republican colleagues to find ways we can keep our commitments to our troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, and to keep Americans safe by winning the war on terror. One of our immediate tasks must be to put our nation’s fiscal house in order. And there is much work to be done to strengthen education, and expand access to quality, affordable health care.
“I don’t talk about bipartisanship just in theory. My Republican colleague from Nevada and I have worked very closely together over the years. He is a loyal Republican and I am a loyal Democrat. But because of our bipartisan work, we have introduced and passed legislation that has been incredibly beneficial to Nevada.
“With the spirit of the Inauguration close to our hearts today, we look forward to the great debates ahead. I am optimistic and confident that today’s new beginning and bipartisan tone will carry forward for the next four years.”