Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid made the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding the need to end partisan games and focus on job creation. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
Democrats believe job creation should be Congress’ number one priority – and Americans agree. But this year, Republicans have distracted Congress from its most important responsibility – getting our economy back on track – time and again.
They have piled endless amendments on legislation that should enjoy bipartisan support. They have killed good bills with obstructionism and stall tactics.
They have dragged out votes to continue funding the government and to avert a default crisis – votes that have always been routine under Republican and Democratic presidents alike.
President Reagan asked Congress to prevent this country from defaulting on its debt 18 times, and Republicans never batted an eye.
Yet this year we set aside our jobs agenda for months while they held up the work of Congress and held our economy hostage.
Rather than working with Democrats to pass job-creating legislation, they insisted on reckless cuts that hurt our economic recovery and prevented us from getting Americans working again.
And they did all this for the sake of politics. They will do anything to keep President Obama from getting reelected.
But the August employment report released last week should be a wakeup call to every Republican who has wasted Congress’ time over the last eight month.
The private sector added a lackluster 17,000 jobs last month, and the unemployment rate remained flat.
Although August marked the 18th straight month of private sector job growth, a stagnant unemployment rate is simply not good enough.
Congress must act quickly to jumpstart a slowing recovery and bring the unemployment rate down.
It is time for Congress to get down to the work it should have been doing all along – work Republicans have delayed for eight months now.
That will take cooperation, something that has been in short supply in Washington this year.
But I am hopeful as we begin a new work period that our constituents’ voices will be fresh in our minds as we take on the task of passing practical, bipartisan job creation legislation.
Over the last month I had the opportunity to spend time with my constituents in Nevada. Many of them are still struggling. They are still having trouble finding steady work, making the mortgage and putting food on the table.
And they will be watching closely this fall to see whether we have heard their message to Congress to put aside partisanship for the sake of American jobs.
They will not be satisfied with the same obstructionism and gridlock they saw this spring and summer.
They know, as I do, that this nation’s economy depends on dedicated men and women from both parties working together on bipartisan bills to put Americans back to work.
The Senate will waste no time getting down to business. Today we will hold a vote on legislation to streamline the patent system, which will help entrepreneurs start new businesses.
The America Invents Act will significantly reform the patent system for the first time in 60 years. It passed the House with more than 300 votes and includes many of the same provisions adopted by the Senate in March with 95 votes.
This is exactly the kind of job-creating legislation that our country needs to get the economic recovery back in motion. It will promote innovation, create American jobs and grow our economy without adding a penny to the deficit.
Today, 700,000 patent applications – three years worth – are waiting to be reviewed. The next revolutionary device might be sitting in that pile of applications, instead of being manufactured by American workers.
The America Invents Act will give the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office the tools it needs to work through that backlog, and unlock the job-creating potential of each patent. It will also lower fees for small business applicants by up to 75 percent, helping them put more people to work at a time we need jobs the most.
It is time our patent system became a tool to spark innovation instead of something that holds companies back from creating jobs.
The America Invents Act is the kind of bipartisan effort Americans have demanded – and deserve – from Congress.
But it is only the beginning – a down payment on the aggressive jobs agenda we will pursue this fall.
We will hold a cloture vote on this legislation tonight. And I hope to vote on final passage this week. Although this is important legislation, it has seen plenty of debate in Congress. It is time to move on to other job creation measures.
This work period, we must extend the authorization of the Federal Aviation Administration, safeguarding the jobs of airline safety workers. We can’t afford another FAA shutdown that would put air travelers at risk, lay off tens of thousands of construction worker and result in the lot of millions in uncollected airline ticket taxes.
Neither can we afford a disruption in collection of the federal gasoline taxes or a delay of highway and mass transit construction projects that employ 1 million Americans. So before the end of the month, we must also authorize federal spending for this nation’s highways.
Even Grover Norquist agrees advancing the highway bill is not a tax increase, and won’t oppose this crucial legislation.
Congress must also make sure that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has the resources it needs to help American families rebuild their lives after several deadly disasters.
Experts estimate Hurricane Irene to be one of the ten most costly disasters in American history. To free up money to help victims of this devastating hurricane immediately, FEMA has frozen long-term aid to tornado-ravaged Joplin, Missouri and other disaster areas.
We will provide funding for FEMA to immediately help victims of Hurricane Irene without abandoning the long-term needs of people whose homes and livelihoods were destroyed by tornados and floods in the Midwest.
I also look forward to hearing President Obama’s job-creation ideas on Thursday. It will be crucial for Congress to work together with the President to jumpstart our flagging recovery.
It won’t be easy for Congress to tackle all of these things this fall. But it has never been more important that we put our jobs agenda ahead of either party’s political agenda.
I anticipate a productive work period, during which colleagues on both sides of the aisle will work together for the good of our economy and this nation.