Washington,DC—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the following statement today on the floor of the U.S.Senate before voting for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which will create millions of new jobs, provide tax relief for the middle class and invest in our future. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
“In the mid-1830s, the legendary inventor Samuel Morse was in pursuit of funds to build infrastructure for the first telegraph, connectingWashington, DC, withBaltimore. Morse had the misfortune of campaigning for funds when the economic downturn known as the Panic of 1837 hit. In 1843, the country’s economy had recovered and Morse received a grant of $30,000 from Congress to build his line – not an insignificant sum at the time.
“Some opposed public funding for the new invention. But once the wires connecting the two cities were laid, our country’s communications structure was changed forever. What started as a government investment became a major private sector enterprise – creating thousands of jobs and new opportunities to connect people and ideas. If that sounds familiar, it is exactly what created one of the greatest economic opportunities of our lifetime – the Internet.
“Throughout our history, the federal government has catalyzed a good idea, invested in the ingenuity and entrepreneurship of the American people, and let the private sector flourish. Faced with an economic crisis today, we have an opportunity to make similar investments that will help our country prosper in the years to come. We can save and create up to four million jobs, provide tax relief to working families, and lay the groundwork for long-term prosperity with investments in schools and infrastructure.”
“Last night, President Obama brought his case for his economic recovery plan directly to the American people. He clearly explained that no new President relishes the thought of starting an Administration with a major investment of public funds to clean up the economic mess left by the previous Administration.
“Not one Member of Congress or one single American family relishes the difficult choices left for us to make. But with the growing likelihood that this crisis will grow into what the President termed a possible catastrophe, the worst decision would be indecision.
“The President spoke yesterday in the City of Elkhart, Indiana, a place where unemployment has risen to a nationwide high of 15.3 percent. InNevada, the latest figures have surpassed 9 percent, with no signs of retreat. The people ofElkhartunderstand that our economy will not turn around overnight. The people ofReno,Carson City andLas Vegashave patience for the tough choices and hard days still to come. But the American people have no patience for a Congress that points fingers, drags its feet or fails to act.
“It is not common for the National Association of Manufacturers, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the AFL-CIO to all join together in support of legislation. But each of these organizations understands how important it is for us to pass this bill
“Yesterday evening, the United States Senate took a major step toward doing so by voting 61-36 to lift a filibuster and move forward to a vote.
“Now, we move to final passage of President Obama’s plan. But our work does not end there. We must move swiftly with our colleagues in the House of Representatives to complete work on this legislation and send it to the President’s desk as soon as possible.
“The time for debate on this legislation was productive, but it is now over. With common sense as our compass, we must now answer the urgent call for action.”