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 last Congress, we heard our colleagues say things like, ‘I cannot understand how we can claim to support our troops and yet put them in increased jeopardy as a result of our failure to act.’
“Here’s another: ‘It is so irresponsible to tell these young men and women who are serving in uniform with the orders of their commander in chief that you’re not going to give them the necessary ability to defend themselves. In my view it’s terribly misplaced priorities.’
“And another: ‘It is time to put politics behind us and support our troops with the funds they need.’
“Each of these quotes were spoken by Republicans when a Republican was in the White House.
“Today, with a Democrat in the White House, some Republicans threaten to stand in the way of our efforts to support our troops.
“Our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines have done everything we’ve asked of them and more. As always, our troops and commanders have gone above and beyond. The least we can do is give them the basics.
“This bill does that. It gives our brave troops – including the nearly 1,000 men and women who are from Nevada – the resources they need to do their jobs and return home safely.
“It provides $80 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“We are also dedicating billions of dollars:
- to make sure we are prepared for and can respond do a potential flu pandemic;
- to strengthen the security along our borders; and
- to support counterterrorism programs both at home and abroad.
“But in this bill are not merely numbers. This bill also contains our commitment to strengthening our military, rebuilding our relationships with key allies around the world and reducing key security threats.
“Rather than restoring our standing in the world, some Republicans are standing in the way. They are threatening to block this entire bill and all the good it does because of one small but significant part of it.
“That small but significant part is actually a good program. It’s called ‘Cash for Clunkers,’ and it will help both our economy and our environment.
“Here’s how it works: If you trade in your car over the next four months, we’ll give you up to $4,500 toward a new car that is more fuel efficient.
“Those that oppose this bill may not think that’s a worthy goal, but they shouldn’t hold hostage the equipment and training our troops need because of it. They should not let less than one percent of this entire, important bill sink the whole thing. But that’s exactly what some of our colleagues plan to do.
“The question is whether these Senators still agree that we must never walk away from our troops – or if they only believe it when their party is in the White House.
“I sincerely hope Senate Republicans do not follow the lead of House Republicans, only five of whom – five – voted the right way this week. I sincerely hope that after days and days of unnecessary delays, they join us to pass this bill.
“Our troops – each and every single one of whom volunteered for duty – are the last people who should be caught in the crossfire of political gamesmanship.”