Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid made the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding the only viable debt ceiling compromise to avert a default. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
Republicans leaders in the House of Representatives wasted this week pursuing a right-wing proposal they knew from the start could not pass the Senate.
From the very beginning the Speaker’s Band-Aid approach was fatally flawed – it would have put us back in this incredible position, fighting the clock to prevent financial collapse, in just a few weeks.
It was a concession to Tea Party extremists, yet it barely passed the House yesterday with only Republican votes. And it failed on a bipartisan basis last night in the Senate.
But knowing all along that this radical legislation – which was neither balanced nor bipartisan – would not and could not pass in our chamber, Democrats have been working on a true compromise in the Senate.
We have solicited ideas from our Republican friends and colleagues. Let it never be said that Democrats in the Senate were afraid to compromise. We welcome it.
As recently as yesterday morning I asked my friend, the Senate Minority Leader, to help make this Senate compromise more palatable to Republicans. Yet we have heard nothing from the Republican leader.
My friend, Sen. McConnell, did not answer the call to negotiate yesterday or any other day this week. He did not come to the table on behalf of his caucus with ideas to improve a proposal already cut from Republican cloth.
But Democrats are still willing to sit down and negotiate. My door is still open.
I appreciate that several of my Republican colleagues have reached out to me over the last few hours, hoping to reach a compromise. Senate Democrats welcome their input and look forward to working with them on a path forward.
But my friend, the Republican leader of the Senate, must come forward as well.
The two parties must work together to forge an agreement that preserves this nation’s economy. We will need the help of reasonable Republicans – including Sen. McConnell – to get this done.
But unbelievably, another filibuster stands in our path.
The Republican filibuster has become routine. From the smallest measure to the greatest matter of national importance, they stall and delay and use every procedural trick in the book to keep this body from doing its job.
But a filibuster at this late hour, and when so much is at risk, is irresponsible. It puts our economy at risk.
A majority vote was good enough for the Speaker’s proposal in the House of Representatives yesterday, but Republicans believe it isn’t good enough for the Senate today.
Rather than filibuster, I ask that my Republican colleagues work with Democrats to make our proposal better.
We have offered a reasonable, rational way for Republicans to help us avert default. Let me tell you about it.
This amendment was written by Democrats with both parties’ principles in mind. It would:
- Avert default while cutting about $2.4 trillion from the deficit over a decade. It includes no revenues, a concession to House Republicans.
- It establishes a Joint Congressional Committee to find additional savings this year, and guarantees that committee’s recommendations will see an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor.
- And literally every single spending cut in it has been voted for or endorsed by Republicans in both houses of Congress.
We have made several changes to make this proposition amenable to our Republican colleagues. We have:
- Improved the program integrity language to allow more savings by combating government waste and fraud.
- Removed a measure that would have raised revenue by selling spectrum, which would have caused a Blue Slip process in the House.
- Added a process conceived of by my friend, Sen. McConnell, to allow two additional votes over the next year and a half – two motions of disapproval – before the President may raise the debt ceiling.
This proposal also protects Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits. But as you can see, this amendment was designed to appeal to our Republican colleagues as well as to Democrats.
As I said, we are willing to listen to ideas from the other side to make this proposal better. But time is short.
Already the economy has gone from bad to worse. Stocks continued a weeklong slide yesterday.
I know my Republican colleagues love this country. I believe they want to do what is best for our economy.
That is why together we must avert a default that would jeopardize veterans’ benefits, seniors’ Social Security payments and checks for troops on the front lines. It would also effectively raise taxes on every American family and business, increasing the cost of everything from groceries to the mortgage.
And so I urge them to join me to move forward the only true compromise plan left – in fact, the only option left at all – to save this country from default.