Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid made the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding Republicans’ obstruction of job-creation efforts. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
Tonight before a joint session of Congress President Obama will address the single most important issue facing our nation: America’s unemployment crisis.
I look forward to hearing the specifics of his plan. I already know I support its goal: to create good jobs for the 14 million Americans who can’t find work during these dark economic times.
I applaud the common-sense, bipartisan approach he will unveil tonight: to invest in badly needed infrastructure, and to cut taxes for working families and small businesses to spur job creation.
These are ideas behind which members of both parties ought to rally.
Republicans have always supported tax cuts. And in the past they have agreed we must bring America’s infrastructure up to 21st century standards.
If they oppose these proposals now, the reason will be clear: partisan politics.
The other side seems convinced that a failing economy is good Republican politics. They think if they kill every jobs bill and stall every effort to revive the economy, President Obama will lose.
My friend, the Republican leader, has said so. He said the Republican Party’s number one goal this Congress is to defeat the President.
But Republicans aiming at the President have caught innocent Americans in the crossfire.
This week, Republican leaders have said they want to work with the President and Democrats in Congress on bipartisan job creation legislation. But their actions over the last 8 months speak louder than those words.
Republicans opposed reauthorization of the Small Business Innovation Research program and the Economic Development Administration. Both have proven track records of spurring innovation, encouraging entrepreneurship and creating jobs. But Republicans were willing to put hundreds of thousands of American jobs at risk rather than work with Democrats.
The Senate passed much-needed patent reform in March. Yet House Republicans stalled for months before sending us back their version of the bill, which we will vote on today.
Republicans wasted weeks threatening to shut down the government this spring. Then they held our economy hostage for months this summer over a routine vote on whether to pay the nation’s bills.
Congress took the same vote 18 times while Ronald Reagan was president and 7 times while George W. Bush was president. Never was the vote half as time consuming or contentious as this year.
And through it all, Republicans have hacked away at funding for the very programs that were helping to get this nation’s economy back on its feet.
The results of their stall tactics, obstructionism and mindless budget cuts are beginning to show. Although the private sector created jobs for the 18th month in a row, August saw no change in the national unemployment rate. Unemployment in Nevada is still the highest in the nation.
Yet Republicans refuse to focus on employment.
As Democrats introduced jobs bill after jobs bill, Republicans made it clear they were more interested in pursuing a political agenda than a jobs agenda. But we will no longer allow them to put politics ahead of the American people.
There are two things we must get done this work period that will create and save jobs immediately. We must reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration to protect both air travelers and airline workers. And we must pass a highway bill to fund transit construction projects across the nation.
Those two bills will create or save more than 2 million jobs right away, including many jobs in the struggling construction industry. But we will need Republicans’ help to past them.
This is their chance to prove they remember the meaning of the word “bipartisan.” It is time for necessity to trump ideology.
Robert Byrd once said “potholes know no parties.” The challenges that face this nation today are greater than any speed bump. But the road to recovery is the same: cooperation.
Partisanship will not solve our jobs crisis. But setting aside politics in service to our country certainly will.