Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid made the following remarks on the Senate floor regarding economic growth. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
I was saddened to hear that Senator Mark Kirk suffered a stroke over the weekend. He had surgery this morning, and doctors say he will recover.
Senator Kirk is only 52 years old, and doctors say his young age and good health are on his side.
I wish Senator Kirk a full and speedy recovery. I look forward to seeing him return to his work in the Senate soon.
Winston Churchill once said “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak. Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”
I know each one of my colleagues in the Senate – regardless of political party – has the courage to stand up and speak in defense of his or her principles.
This year I hope we each find the courage and faith to listen and cooperate as well.
The founders, in their wisdom, created a divided government. They envisioned a robust debate on important issues.
I don’t believe they envisioned the obstructionism and gridlock that ground the work of Congress to a halt last year.
Influenced by Tea Party voices, Republicans forced us to waste months on routine legislation. They nearly shut down our government. And they held hostage the full faith and credit of the United States.
So I remind my Republican colleagues that not every discussion should collapse into a fight. Every piece of legislation we consider should not result in a political battle.
When we work together, we achieve greater results for the American people.
That is why this year Democrats and Republicans must seek common ground.
We should all be able to agree on this: Congress must do whatever it takes to create jobs and strengthen our economy.
Democrats believe it will take common-sense policies that protect the middle class and smart investments that rebuild our roads, bridges and schools.
We must combat income inequality now, or the rich will keep getting richer and the poor getting poorer while the middle class disappears. That’s not fiction. It’s fact.
Democrats will continue to defend working Americans. We hope Republicans will join us.
But if they again allow the Tea Party to turn every issue into an all-or-nothing battle, we will not back down. We will side with the middle class every time.
We saw the results of Republican brinksmanship in December.
Democrats refused give up on tax cuts for hard-working families. And Republicans finally listened to the American people, who couldn’t afford a $1,000 tax hike.
Putting money back in the pockets of 160 million American workers shouldn’t have been so difficult. It shouldn’t have been a fight in the first place.
I hope we all learned a lesson.
It is time for reasonable Republicans to stop following the Tea Party off a cliff, and join Democrats to create jobs and safeguard the middle class instead.
There will be times in the coming year when we will need the courage to stand and fight.
This year it will be just as important that we summon the courage to sit down and listen.