Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid made the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding the Rebuild America Jobs Act. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
Today I join millions of Nevadans in commemorating the day, 147 years ago, that our great state joined the Union.
Granted statehood during the bitter years of the Civil War, our mettle was tested from day one.
Today our state is once again tested. Too many of our fellow Nevadans are still out of work or underwater in their homes during these tough economic times.
But I know by facing our challenges together we will once again demonstrate the collective strength that comes from being, literally, “Battle Born.”
The image behind me is a satirical takeoff on the Occupy Wall Street protests taking place around the country. Monopoly men in top hats and monocles proclaim, “Keep things precisely as they are,” and “I’ve got mine.”
It is true that for a few lucky Americans, things in this country are going just fine.
The “haves” have never had more. And my colleagues in the Republican Party are singularly focused on making sure it stays that way.
Meanwhile, the gap between the “haves” and “have nots” has never been bigger. And the middle class is falling further and further behind.
That’s why, while Republicans advocate for millionaires and billionaires, Democrats are looking out for working Americans.
We have not forgotten that 14 million people are still out of work, or that millions more are struggling to make ends meet.
We have not stopped fighting to create good-paying, American jobs.
That’s why Democrats will introduce the Rebuild America Jobs Act, legislation that will create hundreds of thousands of jobs by investing in our nation’s crumbling infrastructure.
It would put men and women across this country to work upgrading 150,000 miles of roadways, laying 4,000 miles of train tracks, restoring 150 miles of airport runways and installing a modern air-traffic control system that no longer relies on World War II-era technology, and will reduce travel time and delays.
Since the economic downturn began, more than 2 million construction workers have lost their jobs. This legislation will send hundreds of thousands of those workers back to job sites to build $27 billion worth of roads and bridges.
The plan would fund $250 million worth of projects in Nevada, where the construction industry has been decimated. It would support about 3,300 badly-needed jobs in my state.
Overall, the Rebuild America Jobs Act would invest $50 billion putting Americans back to work and ensuring our nation has top-notch infrastructure once again.
It will also invest $10 billion to create an infrastructure bank that would leverage private and public capital to fund a wide range of long-delayed projects.
And it will do all this without adding a penny to the deficit. Instead it would require millionaires and billionaires to contribute their fair share – a fraction of one percent of their income over $1 million – to get this nation’s economy back on track.
Americans overwhelmingly support Democrats’ plan to invest in roadways, runways and railways. Seventy-two percent of them – like Drew Ramey from Jonesboro, Arkansas – support the Rebuild America Jobs Act.
This is what Mr. Ramey told TIME magazine: “I used to think I was a libertarian. But I like my roads now. I like my public services.”
Like Mr. Ramey, Americans of all political persuasions, including 54 percent of Republicans, believe a world-class economy should have world-class roads and bridges.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and labor union AFL-CIO rarely agree on anything. Yet they agree that we should pass the Rebuild America Jobs Act and improve the woeful state of America’s infrastructure.
But it’s not only labor and business groups, transit officials and mayors, and three-quarters of the American public that support our plan. Senate Republicans have also supported it in the past.
I could quote a dozen of my Senate Republican colleagues serving today speaking out in support of infrastructure investments, one as recently as last month.
So why aren’t they lining up to support our proposal today? There are two reasons.
First, Republicans are determined to see President Obama fail, even if it means Americans fail with him. They would rather see Americans continue to struggle to find work than work together with the President or with Senate Democrats.
Second, Republicans are more concerned with protecting these millionaires and billionaires than with putting 14 million people back to work. They refuse to ask the richest of the rich to contribute a tiny fraction more to secure our economic future, even if it costs hundreds of thousands of jobs.
In recent days, Republicans have shown new interest in the gulf between rich and poor that has motivated thousands to occupy parks across the country and make their voices heard. Apparently they believe American’s staggering income inequality makes a good talking point.
Yet while Democrats fight for jobs for the middle-class, Republicans fight for tax breaks for the one percent of Americans who don’t need our help.
I say to my Republican colleagues, actions speak louder than words.