Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid made the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding a path forward to avert a default crisis. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
Although the House of Representatives has not yet voted on Speaker Boehner’s plan, that plan is flawed.
That is why they have struggled for days to pass this inadequate legislation without a single Democrat. They have plowed forward, looking only to Republicans.
But as with the battle to pass a Continuing Resolution and keep our government open for business a few months ago, the Republican leadership was unable to get the votes with only Republicans. Speaker Boehner had to look to Democrats.
That’s how it’s supposed to work – Democrats and Republicans working together.
A Band-Aid approach to a world crisis is an embarrassment to Congress, to this country and to the world.
United Senate Democrats – all 53 of us – have informed the Speaker that his legislation was doomed in the Senate, because we would not vote for a short-term extension of the debt ceiling. It would put our great nation on the path to another default extravaganza in a few weeks.
Virtually every expert – every economist, every rating agency, every market analyst – has said the kind of short-term plan the Speaker proposed was no answer to the crisis Republicans have created. If we are trying to avert the kind of financial calamity default would bring, the Republicans’ plan is not was not a solution.
As the experts say, all too soon we would be back in the midst of partisan wrangling, with our economy once again held prisoner by extremist Tea Party Republicans.
Our economy cannot bear this kind of uncertainty any longer.
Congress and the White House are on lockdown, and the business of the country is not being conducted.
I say no, not again will we fight another battled like the one in which we are now engaged.
But default is not an option, either. And we cannot wait for the House any longer.
It is time for Republicans to stop the political games and embrace compromise.
No matter how long Republicans delay, the deadline will not move. We have hours – I repeat, hours – to act.
That is why, by the end of the day today, I must take action on the Senate’s compromise legislation.
The legislation in point would cut $2.4 trillion from the deficit over the next decade and avert a default on our national debt. It would protect Social Security and Medicare without raising a penny of revenue.
The question is – will today’s Republicans break away from the shrill voice of the Tea Party and return to the Republican Party of Ronald Reagan?
This is likely our last chance to save this nation from default.
I have invited Sen. McConnell to sit down with me, and to negotiate in good faith knowing the clock is running down. I hope will accept my offer.
I know the Senate compromise bill Democrats have offered is not perfect in Republican’ eyes. Nor is it perfect for Democrats.
But together, we must make it work for all of us. It is the only option.
The settlement on the table will never give either party everything it wants. But it already meets the Republicans’ demands.
John McCain, the Republican senior senator from Arizona and President Obama’s opponent in the last presidential election, has asked his party to compromise.
It “is not fair to the American people, to hold out and say we won’t agree to raising the debt limit,” he said. He called the radical Republican approach “unfair” and “bizarro.”
“It’s time we listened to the markets,” he said. “It’s time we listened to the American people and sit down and seriously negotiate.”
And former Senator Fred Thompson, a Republican, asked members of his own party to come to their senses.
“I respectfully suggest that you rake in your chips [and] stuff them in your pockets,” Thompson urged Republicans.
I hope my friend, Sen. McConnell, will come to me by the end of the day and indicate what constructive ideas he has to move the process along.
My door is open. I will listen to any idea to get this done in a way that prevents a default and a dangerous downgrade to America’s credit rating.
Time is short, and too much is at stake to waste even one more minute.
The last train is leaving the station.
The vote on this compromise will determine whether we enter the frightening world of default.
A vote for the Senate compromise will be a vote to honor the financial obligations of this great nation – to pay the bills.
A vote against this compromise will be a vote to default on the full faith and credit of the United States of America.
There will be no time left to vote on another bill or consider another option here in the Senate. None.
This is our last, best chance to preserve the character and credit of this great nation.