Washington, DC— Nevada Senator Harry Reid made the following remarks on the Senate floor this morning regarding Republicans’ recent vote to block an open debate on Wall Street accountability legislation. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
“The American people undeniably demand that we protect them from a Wall Street run wild.
“Two-thirds of Americans support us cracking down on big bankers’ reckless risk-taking. And a majority supports us asking banks to pay for their own funerals – that’s the fund financed by the big financial firms to cover the cost of their liquidation. Not to bail out banks that threaten the larger economy, as some have mischaracterized it, but to shut them down for good.
“The American people also demand that their leaders discuss these details and improve on these ideas. They have two simple requests: One, that their leaders look out for their economic security; and two, that their legislators legislate. In other words, they want us to look out for their jobs and they want us to do our own.
“Right now, Senate Republicans are refusing to do either.
“Yesterday they stood together, en bloc, to block us from moving this bill to the floor. They didn’t even want the Senate to talk about legislation as part of the normal legislative process.
“More than two years after the financial collapse that sparked a worldwide recession, Senate Republicans are claiming we’re moving too fast.
“They are claiming that only a fully negotiated and agreed-upon bill can come up for debate. They want all the details to be worked out beforehand, behind closed doors and out of view from the public.
“That is unprecedented in the 220 years of the United States Senate. As we all learned in civics class, that’s not how the legislative process works.
“We want to bring our bill to the floor so we can discuss it, debate it, amend it and improve it. We want to do it out in the open.
“After all, if we are not debating – if Senators refuse to let the Senate do its job – what are we doing here?
“What purpose does the Senate serve? Why do we have rules for debate and the opportunity to offer amendments?
“President Kennedy once said, ‘Let us not be afraid of debate or discussion – let us encourage it.’ I ask my Republican colleagues, What are you so afraid of?
“As I have said before, the right response to disagreement is not dismissal; it is discussion.
“For far too long there has been too much secrecy and too little transparency on Wall Street. The American people have paid the price with their jobs and their life savings, and they demand we fix what’s broken.
“As long as Republicans insist on secrecy and resist transparency here in the Senate – and if they don’t let us address the problems we were sent here to solve – we will never fully recover.”