Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid made the following remarks on the Senate floor regarding the Aviation Jobs conference report and the payroll tax cut extension. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
I am pleased that today the Senate will pass the Aviation Jobs conference report.
This measure is the first long-term reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration in almost five years.
The FAA has worked under 23 short-term extensions since 2007. In fact, the FAA shut down for two weeks last year.
The four-year compromise we’ll pass this evening didn’t give everyone everything they wanted. But it will finally give the FAA the stability it needs to properly maintain a world-class air travel system.
The Aviation Jobs Bill will also create thousands of jobs, protect airline workers and improve safety for travelers. This legislation will create and protect more than 300,000 badly needed jobs.
And it will give the FAA the ability to finally upgrade this country’s air-traffic control system.
Today America relies on World War II-era technology to track aircraft and guide them in for safe landings. An upgrade to modern, satellite technology is long overdue.
The Aviation Jobs Bill will finally make that critical investment possible. It will invest more than $24 billion in airports and runways across the nation, and on modern air traffic control equipment.
I am glad that Democrats and Republicans were finally able to reach this compromise.
I wish the spirit of compromise would also extend to ongoing conference committee negotiations on a year-long payroll tax cut.
I was dismayed to read this morning that rank-and-file Republicans in both chambers are on the fence over whether we should extend this break for working families at all.
More than 160 million American workers will benefit, with the average family saving $1,000 this year.
But Republicans are questioning whether Americans really need that extra cash. And they are once again playing politics and putting our economy at risk as time to reach a compromise runs out.
Democrats have offered to meet them halfway, but Republicans won’t take yes for an answer.
In exchange for extending this middle-class tax break, Republicans are insisting we pass unrelated, ideological legislation that will make our water less safe to drink.
And they’re refusing to close tax loopholes, such as giveaways to oil companies making record profits. Instead they insist on more handouts to millionaires and billionaires before they’ll do anything to benefit the middle class.
The American people have spoken, and they’ve spoken clearly: working families need this $1,000 to put food on the table and gas in the car.
And they won’t tolerate Republicans holding their money hostage to extort political payback, as they did before.
I thought Republicans got the message in December, when they took a beating for opposing this tax cut. I hope they won’t pick this losing fight a second time.
But if they do chose to fight Democrats as we try to put money back in the pockets of 160 million working Americans, the outcome will eventually be the same.
Democrats will not give in when it comes to protecting middle-class families.
That’s why we will prepare a fallback plan in case Republicans refuse to cooperate.
Our legislation will prevent a tax hike on middle-class families, extend unemployment benefits, protect seniors on Medicare from losing their doctors and extend expire tax provisions.
And it will be free of unrelated, ideological legislation designed to please the radical right. Stopping a $1,000 tax increase on virtually every American family is too important to be bogged down with sweeteners for the Tea Party.
Senate Democrats will be prepared to act with or without Republican cooperation.
Republicans must make a choice. They can force a $1,000 tax increase on American families to strengthen the Tea Party. Or they can compromise to strengthen the middle class. The choice is theirs.