Senate Democrats

Senator Harry Reid’s Remarks at Democratic Unity Event

Remarks as prepared for delivery:

The hour of decision has come for our nation’s Senate. In the debate that has begun, the Republican majority that holds the reins of power will have to make a choice.

They will have to choose between their partisan interests or the people’s interests.

Between upholding our liberties and rights or overturning 200 year old protections.

Between continuing to abuse the power the American people have lent them or using that power on behalf of everyday Americans who are looking for a fair break.

When Americans think of a scary person in a black robe, they should be thinking of Darth Vader, not Republican choices for judges. But what the Republican leadership is attempting to do is to pack the courts with judges far out of the mainstream of American values.

To do so they want to scrap rules that have been in place since our nation’s beginning that give every Senator the right to speak their mind and say their piece. They are demanding a power no president has ever had: the ability to all-but personally hand out lifetime jobs to judges without giving the other party any say.

That’s too much power for one person. That’s too much power for one President. That’s too much power for one political party.

Our Constitution says the Senate should give “advice and consent.” Not advice as long as we agree with everything President Bush wants. Not consent as long as we rubber-stamp the most extreme elements of the Republican agenda.

These checks and balances were put in place by our founding fathers. And they are there for a reason: to prevent any political party from abusing its power.

Look at the facts: more than 60 of President Clinton’s nominees to be judges never were allowed an up-or-down vote. In contrast, we have approved 208 out of President Bush’s 218 nominees. That’s the best record any president has had in a quarter of a century. But its not enough for George Bush and the Republican leaders.

We’ve approved 95 percent of their picks. But that’s not enough for them. They want 100 percent. They want it all. All the say. All the control. All the power. It’s their way or the highway. But that’s not the American way.

The Washington Republicans are on a quest for absolute power…and we all know what that brings. Their corruption and abuse of power is already here for all Americans to see. House Republican leader Tom Delay is a walking symbol of what’s wrong with Washington DC.

At a time when gas prices are going through the roof and families are cutting back on summer vacations, George Bush and Dick Cheney are trying to line the pockets of big oil and walking hand-in-hand with the Saudi princes.

And while health care costs are rising, pensions are sinking, and our economy is stuck in place, Washington Republicans are wasting our time by trying to pay off the far right.

We are a nation at war. And the American people want their leaders to be focused on achieving progress, not playing partisan games.

Fifty years ago this Spring, a US Senator in the majority party wrote that “Fanatics and extremists are always disappointed at the failure of their government to rush to implement all their principles.” But that the job of leaders is to follow the “course of their conscience.”

Those were the words of John F. Kennedy in “Profiles in Courage.” Now comes a time of testing for our own time. In the coming days, we will see who our nation’s leaders of courage are today. I ask Republicans who believe in liberty and limited government to join us in taking a stand against this abuse of power.

Its time that the Republican leaders in Congress stopped silencing people’s voices and began hearing the voices of Americans who are calling on us to live up to our nation’s promise.

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