Washington, DC—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the following statement today on the floor of the U.S. Senate regarding the Jobs, Energy, Families, and disaster Relief Act of 2008:
“We have heard Republicans expend a tremendous amount of words and energy talking about our national energy crisis. Today, Democrats offer them yet another chance to stop the talking and actually do something to solve the problem.
“We have already offered Senate Republicans four opportunities to pass tax-extenders legislation. Today we offer a fifth chance. This tax-extender legislation provides tax incentives to private sector innovators who are discovering new ways to harness the power of the wind, the sun, geothermal, and other sources of clean, renewable energy.
“If they succeed – and with our help, they will – we will lower energy prices, create good new American jobs, and stem the tide of global warming.
“Chairman Baucus has done a tremendous job with this legislation. If anyone in this United States Senate knows how to bring all sides to the table to find common ground, it is Max Baucus – and this bill is no exception. Having heard Republican criticisms of the previous version of the tax extenders bill, Chairman Baucus went to work to make this a bill that should satisfy both sides of the aisle. Not only did Chairman Baucus address previous Republican concerns abut the tax extender package, this new legislation also provides rapid relief for victims of natural disasters – something Senator Grassley has worked hard for.
“These provisions will provide much-needed assistance not only to flood victims in the Midwest, but also to victims of natural disasters in Nevada, Kentucky, Georgia, Tennessee, Colorado, Mississippi and other states. This bill also transfers funds to the Highway Trust Fund to avoid a projected shortfall of more than $3 billion next year. This proposal has overwhelming bipartisan support and passed the House by a vote of 387-37.
“And, I’m pleased that this legislation also includes an initiative that our late friend, Senator Paul Wellstone championed, and that Senators Kennedy, Domenici and others have worked tirelessly to accomplish: mental health parity. This simply says that mental health is considered just as serious and legitimate a medical concern as physical health and those who suffer from mental health should receive equal access to the health care they need to get well.
“Democrats made some compromises in the current version of this legislation that we would rather not have made. We did so because we understand that compromise is essential to legislating. We have acted in good faith to respond to Republican concerns.
“I hope that our Republican colleagues will see this, as we do, as an opportunity for one bipartisan solution to the energy crisis. This is just one piece of the puzzle. But it is an important piece – and one that can make a difference in energy prices immediately.
“So we hope that Republicans will decide to take yes for an answer. Legislating requires the participation and cooperation of both sides of the aisle. Democrats can’t do it by ourselves. Surely the American people are tired of Republicans delaying and rejecting every effort Democrats make to solve our nation’s problems. We don’t need every Republican to agree. Perhaps today is the day that enough Republicans will see fit to reject the politics of delay and inaction – and embrace the path of progress.”