Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid spoke on the Senate floor today regarding show votes on non-binding Republican budget resolutions. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
It’s almost universally acknowledged that Republican obstructionism has reached new heights in the Senate.
Democrats would have to break a filibuster to declare the sky blue or the Earth round.
And passing even the most common-sense, consensus legislation can take weeks or months. So, with a mile-long to-do list, we can’t afford to waste time.
Yet today Republicans will force the Senate to waste a day on a series of political show votes.
We’ll spend hours debating and voting on a handful of non-binding budget resolutions – even though we already have a legally-binding budget.
The Senate could spend the day passing tax cuts for small businesses that grow and hire or legislation to keep the FDA running.
We could be considering the Paycheck Fairness Act – ensuring American women receive equal pay for equal work.
We could be debating cyber security legislation, working on a farm bill or protecting 7 million students from rate hikes on their federal loans.
We could even move a series of appropriations bills to implement the budget we’ve already enacted.
Instead we’ll debate and vote on a series of stunt budgets.
Republicans aren’t interested in getting anything done this year – they’re more interested in trying to defeat President Obama. So they don’t mind wasting a day of the Senate’s time on useless political show votes.
Republicans will say over and over they’re only forcing votes on four budgets today because Democrats failed to pass our own budget. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
In August, Congress passed and President Obama signed a budget that reduces the deficit by more than $2 trillion – the Budget Control Act.
Twenty-eight Senate Republicans – including my friend, the Minority Leader – voted for that legally-binding budget.
But since August those Republicans have developed a case of amnesia. Why else would they walk around Washington claiming we don’t have a budget?
And unlike the hollow Republican budget resolutions the Senate will waste the day debating, the Budget Control Act actually has the force of law.
If Republicans were serious about reducing the deficit, they wouldn’t be working so hard to undo that August law, which cuts more than $2 trillion from the deficit.
Democrats agree the across-the-board cuts to domestic spending and defense programs – agreed to in the Budget Control Act – aren’t the ideal way to solve our nation’s fiscal problems.
But the cuts were designed to be tough so lawmakers were forced to reach to a balanced deal.
Unfortunately, Republicans refused to be reasonable. They refused to raise even a penny of new revenue, or ask millionaires to contribute their fair share to help reduce our deficit.
And Democrats won’t agree to a one-sided solution that lets the super-wealthy off the hook while forcing the middle class to bear all the hardship.
These four stunt budgets all take that one-sided approach, which protects wealthy special interests at the expense of ordinary Americans.
And they clearly illuminate Republicans’ priorities – to shower the wealthy with tax breaks paid for by the middle class.
All four of the Republican plans cut investments that help middle class families get back on their feet in order to increase tax breaks for businesses that ship jobs overseas.
All four plans would double the student loan interest rate – putting college out of reach for many students – in order to protect tax loopholes for special interests.
All four plans end Medicare as we know it, gutting seniors’ health benefits to lavish more tax breaks on millionaires and billionaires.
Yesterday the Senate showed it’s possible to advance policies that improve our economy and put Americans back to work – as long as Democrats and Republicans work together.
On an overwhelming, bipartisan vote, we passed an Export-Import Bank reauthorization that will support hundreds of thousands of jobs and help American companies sell their products overseas.
But every moment we waste refighting old battles or revisiting Republicans’ failed economic policies is time that could be better spent creating jobs.
The time for show votes is over. Now it’s time for the Senate to get back to work putting Americans back to work.