Washington, DC— Nevada Senator Harry Reid made the following remarks today on the Aviation Jobs Bill and Republican efforts to repeal healthcare. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
“If the American people want to understand the difference between Democrats and Republicans, I suggest they pay attention to what’s happening on the Senate floor this week. The two parties simply have different priorities.
“Democrats are fighting to modernize our nation’s air travel. Republicans are fighting to repeal the health reform law, ignoring the 80 percent of Americans who want them to leave it alone.
“In other words, Democrats want to give passengers rights they deserve. Republicans want to take away rights patients already have – rights that are saving lives, saving money and saving Medicare, just as we promised when we wrote this law.
“What Republicans refuse to understand – or at least what they hope the people don’t realize – is that in America, we give our citizens rights. We don’t take them away. That principle comes first. It inspired this country’s founding, it has directed our evolution and it defines our promise.
“We all have a choice: We can move forward, or we can look backward. We can make progress, or we can stage a futile fight with the future. It’s clear this week that while the American people and Senate Democrats are looking ahead, Senate Republicans are looking for a way to distract the American people.
“This is what moving forward looks like: Our bill to modernize our nation’s air travel will protect consumers. It is a passengers’ bill of rights. We know delays happen. But when they do, we want to make sure passengers are treated right.
• They have the right to timely and accurate information about their flight.
• They have the right to food, water and access to restrooms while they are forced to wait.
• And they have the right to know that while they’re sitting on an airplane that’s sitting on a tarmac, the airline they’re flying has a contingency plan to get them where they need to go.
“This bill will also make flying safer and more efficient.
• It will help prevent accidents on the runway.
• It will finally introduce GPS technology into our nation’s air traffic control system.
• It will improve air access to rural communities, which is important to Nevadans in isolated cities like Ely, which isn’t near a big metropolitan area.
• And it would reduce delays in the first place.
“That’s what moving forward looks like. That’s what Democrats want to do.
“This is what moving backward would look like: Republicans’ symbolic effort to repeal the rights in the health reform law would put us all at risk.
• It would let insurance companies once again stand in the way of a child and the medical care he or she needs.
• It would take away a child’s right to get health insurance and instead give insurance companies the right to use asthma or diabetes as an excuse to take away that care.
• It would kick kids off their parents’ health insurance.
• It would take away seniors’ rights to a free wellness check.
• It would force seniors to pay more for their prescriptions.
• It would raise taxes on small businesses and add a trillion and a half dollars to our deficit.
“This is how health insurance worked before our reforms became the law of the land. We can’t afford to go back.
“There is one more difference between what Democrats and Republicans are fighting for this week: Jobs. Along with all the advances in the aviation modernization bill I mentioned a minute ago, it is also a jobs bill. It will create and protect at least 280,000 American jobs. That’s why Democrats are fighting so hard for it.
“And while the health reform law is making sick Americans better, it’s also helping unemployed Americans find work. A healthier health care system is going to create hundreds of thousands of jobs a year for the next decade. That’s because when businesses don’t have to spend so much on premiums, they can spend more on people. And healthier workers are, of course, more productive workers. That helps our economy at every level.
“This is the difference between moving forward and moving backward. It is the difference between giving people rights and taking them away.
“In the late days of the health reform debate, my colleagues on the other side asked us to stop everything and start over. It was nothing more than an excuse to keep the insurance companies in charge of our health.
“And in the early days of this Congress, the minority again is asking us to go turn back the clock on the progress we’ve made. The minority is again trying to turn Americans’ health back over to the insurance companies.
“They can dig in their heels and try to slam on the brakes as hard as they want. But the course of our country goes in only one direction. We move forward.”