Washington, DC—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the following statement today on the floor of the U.S. Senate. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
“In the past few days, we have seen one major investment bank fail and file for bankruptcy, another saved by a competitor, and the Federal Reserve liberalize access to its ‘discount window.’ By all accounts, this was a remarkable turn of events for Wall Street and our nation’s financial markets. When all the smoke of these major financial shakeups has cleared, our job remains the same as always: to do everything we can to help the American people make it through these trying times.
“What we are seeing on Wall Street today is yet more fallout from the Bush-McCain economic policies that have failed our country. The Bush Administration failed to police lenders and neglected to protect consumers. That led to the subprime crisis that has cost millions of American families their homes and continues to wreak havoc on financial institutions. This ‘anything goes’ approach – that the Bush Administration called free market economics but amounted to nothing more than willful neglect for American families – has resulted in millions of lost jobs, with an enormous price tag for American taxpayers.
“If there was ever a reminder of our country’s desperate need for new economic leadership, this is it.
“Yet even today – with all this bad news– Senator McCain said again that the fundamentals of our economy are still strong. For whom is this economy strong? It’s not strong for homeowners in Nevada Arizona, California, and across the country, where foreclosure looms as never before. It’s not strong for low-wage earners who are spending more of their paychecks than ever just to pay for gas to get to work. It’s not strong for middle class families who are saving less and spending more on groceries, clothing and health care. It’s not strong for the more than 600,000 victims of the Bush/McCain economy who have lost their jobs this year. And it’s certainly not strong for fixed-income senior citizens who face a winter of record heating costs.
“There may be places in America where the economy is strong – maybe in country clubs and a few boardrooms of firms that haven’t folded. But for the rest of America, this economy is not strong and it won’t solve itself – no matter what President Bush and Senator McCain say. Fixing this mess will take real leadership.
“During this work period, I hope that Congress will show some leadership by passing another economic stimulus plan that creates jobs and invests in our economy. We face other priorities this work period as well.
“I hope we can reach consent on a list of amendments to the Defense Authorization bill. This will allow Senators from both sides of the aisle to have their voices heard, which could perhaps allow us to pass this critical legislation without yet another Republican filibuster.
“We must work to pass comprehensive energy legislation as another step to energy independence. We had a very productive energy summit on Friday, and I hope the bipartisan nature of the summit will inspire even more cooperation to pass a bill this year. The House is expected to pass an energy bill in the coming days, and here in the Senate we will consider Democratic, Republican and bipartisan legislation so that all sides will be heard.
“Part of this effort must include passing tax extenders so that private sector innovators who are developing and producing the clean, renewable alternative to oil and coal – like wind, solar and geothermal – will have incentives to bring their products to the market at a price that consumers can afford.
“We must work to pass a supplemental appropriations bill, as well as a Continuing Resolution. And, I hope to turn to a variety of other bipartisan legislation that the House has passed but Republicans have stalled here in the Senate.”