Washington, DC– Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid delivered the following remarks this afternoon on the floor of the U.S. Senate. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
“If we’re going to get the American economy back on track, we have to get the American people back to work.
“We know that our serious troubles were not created in one day, and we know they will not be solved overnight. But we have to begin. We have to take that first step.
“That’s what the bill before us represents: a strong first step in the right direction.
“This is a jobs plan that will cut businesses’ taxes as an incentive to hire unemployed workers.
“It is a plan that includes more tax breaks for keeping those workers on the payroll, and even more help for small businesses to write off their investments.
“It will extend the Highway Trust Fund and expand Build America Bonds – proven programs that work – so we can invest billions in our roads and bridges and save a million jobs.
“With this first bill, we will create the right conditions for the private sector to start hiring again. And we’re doing so in the right places.
“When we help small businesses thrive, we will create jobs that will let more entrepreneurs innovate and invent.
“When we invest in improving our roads and bridges, we will create jobs so workers can support their families, but also create infrastructure to support our growing nation.
“This bill is as good for the employers who will be doing the hiring as it is for the employees who will be getting hired.
“And one other thing about this bill: it is fully paid for – which means we’re not adding a single dime to the deficit. We’re doing this the responsible way, and holding ourselves to the same budgeting standards we teach our children: you can only spend the money you have.
“Each of these components – the tax breaks, the support to help small businesses grow and hire more workers, the new construction projects, and the fiscally responsible way we’re doing it – is a nonpartisan idea. Republicans have supported every part of this bill in the past, and Democrats have supported them, too. There is simply no reason it should not receive overwhelming support from both sides of the aisle.
“But so far, that hasn’t happened. Why not?
“Rather than figuring out how to put Americans back to work, Republicans last week met with big business lobbyists to devise a plan to defeat this bill.
“Rather than rally around a plan that we know will create jobs, we have heard excuse after tired excuse from the other side. But the American people aren’t buying it. They’re scared about their future. They’re sick of the excuses. They demand that their leaders lead. That’s what we’re trying to do today, with this good bill.
“Some have questioned the size of this bill. Only in Washington is a $15 billion investment to create and save more than a million jobs not enough.
“The answer is not to do nothing. It is to do something to create jobs, and then create more jobs, and then create more jobs after that. That’s why this is not the only jobs bill or the last jobs bill we will bring to the floor. We’re not going to stop until every American who wants a job can get one.
“But we can’t do it alone. Republicans share the responsibility to govern. If they support this bill – as they have in the past – and if they join us now to pass it, we will do many, many more just like it.
“However, if they once again put partisanship ahead of people – if they once again try to distract from the issue at hand – they will only confirm their reputation as the Party of No. They will only confirm the American people’s fears that Republicans refuse to do anything to help them.
“So to my Republican colleagues, here is your chance.
“Show us you’re serious about legislating.
“Show our constituents you’re serious about leading.
“Show the skeptics that you know putting people back to work is far more important than putting points up on the political scoreboard.
“Most important, I ask my reluctant Republican colleagues to show those Americans who deserve a job to go to every the morning that we’re willing to do our jobs this evening.
“It’s remarkable that we have to hold a procedural vote on a bill that will create jobs. It will be regrettable if the minority prevents us from moving forward, from taking that first step, from giving millions of unemployed Americans the hope that tomorrow will be better than yesterday.”