Washington, D.C. — Nevada Senator Harry Reid delivered the following remarks on the Senate floor this afternoon as Republicans continue to hold important legislation hostage. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
“As far as lame-duck sessions of the Senate go, our agenda is rather ambitious, and the session itself is relatively long.
“It didn’t have to be this way. We’ve tried many times this Congress to tackle each of the priorities on our agenda. Each time we’ve tried, the minority has tried to shut down the Senate. Republicans ground the Senate to a halt and forced endless hours of inactivity. That’s why we were here voting on Saturday. That’s why we’ll still be here another few weeks.
“We have a long to-do list. But these priorities aren’t mere leftovers – they are critical to our economy and our national security, to our families and our country’s future. And we will resolve them before we adjourn.
“We have to give first responders – our communities’ firefighters, police officers and emergency medical personnel – the same job protections that other workers enjoy.
“We need to give seniors and disabled veterans some relief, which will also benefit our economy as a whole. The cost-of-living adjustment for Social Security recipients is a question of both fairness and economics.
“We will again fight for the DREAM Act. When it passes, millions of children who grew up as Americans will be able to get the education they need to contribute to our economy. Many who have volunteered to defend our country will no longer have to fear being deported from it.
“We will give the heroes of 9/11 long-overdue help. Thousands of first responders who rushed to Ground Zero on 9/11 got terribly sick from the toxins there. Everyone should agree they shouldn’t have to wait any longer than they already have for the health care and compensation they deserve.
“We will protect middle-class families from a tax hike.
“We will ratify the bipartisan START Treaty to make America safer.
“We have to confirm the enormous backlog of qualified nominees to the bench and other important positions. For example, there are more than 30 judicial nominees ready to come to a vote. Most were voted out of the Judiciary Committee without a single vote against them. They’ve been waiting for a long time to fill these important seats and serve their country. It’s time we let them.
“We’re also going to repeal the discriminatory Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell rule. We’re going to match our policy with our principles and finally say that in the United States, everyone who steps up to serve our country should be welcomed.
“Republicans know they don’t have the votes to take this repeal out of the Defense Authorization Act, so they’re holding up the whole bill. But when they refuse to debate it, they also hold up a well-deserved raise for our troops, better health care for our troops and their families, equipment like MRAP vehicles that keep our troops safe, and other critical wartime efforts in Afghanistan and counterterrorism efforts around the world.
“Obstruction has consequences. And none of the issues on this long list is new. Neither is the minority’s effort to keep the Senate from working and keep Senators from doing our jobs.
“It’s time to roll up our sleeves – not dig in our heels. My hope for the final weeks of this year is that Republicans finally will realize we all have much more to gain by working together than working against each other.”