Senate Democrats

Reid: Republican Obstruction, Infighting Threaten More Bipartisan Legislation

Washington, D.C.Nevada Senator Harry Reid spoke on the Senate floor today regarding Republican obstruction of Iran sanctions, a student loan bill, the Violence Against Women Act and a bill to reform the FDA. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:

This week the Senate must complete work on legislation to enact crucial reforms that will prevent drug shortages and bring life-saving medicines to market more quickly.

Senator Harkin and Senator Enzi – a Democrat and a Republican – worked very hard to bring this legislation to the floor.

I am cautiously optimistic that spirit of bipartisan collaboration continues – because Democrats can’t pass this legislation without the cooperation of our Republican colleagues.

I certainly hope they will allow us to advance this bill this evening without the additional delay of another filibuster.

I would like Senators from both parties to be free to offer relevant amendments to improve a worthy bill.

But before we can get to work on this legislation in earnest, my Republican colleagues must stop their filibuster.

Americans living with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses are watching closely to see whether the Senate is capable of quick action to ease shortages of crucial medicines – or whether we will once more be paralyzed by Republican obstruction.

Student Loans

Americans have seen that obstruction time and again this Congress.

They are frustrated with the slow pace of Senate action to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, on Iran sanctions and on legislation to stop interest rates from doubling on federal student loans.

Earlier this month, Republicans blocked one attempt to keep higher education affordable for 7 million students.

But Democrats haven’t given up. I only hope our Republican colleagues will come to their senses and allow us to prevent this crisis before it’s too late.

Iran Sanctions

Republican obstruction and infighting have also stalled critical new sanctions against Iran.

For two months, Democrats have worked to resolve Republican objections to this bipartisan measure, which passed out of the Banking Committee unanimously.

The stakes couldn’t be higher. Sanctions are a key tool to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, threatening Israel and jeopardizing U.S. national security.

We cannot afford any more delays to putting stronger sanctions in place.

I am hopeful my Republican colleagues will realize how important it is to advance these measures and prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

Violence Against Women

Republicans have also needlessly blocked progress on reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. This helps law enforcement effectively combat and prosecute domestic crimes against women.

Although both Chambers have passed a version of this legislation, House Republicans have refused to go to conference with the Senate.

Their excuse – a hyper-technical budget issue called a blue slip – isn’t much of a fig leaf to hide their blatant obstruction.

The truth is Republicans are looking for any excuse to stall or kill this worthy legislation. And American women aren’t fooled.

If Republicans really want to give police the tools they need to prosecute domestic abusers, they will drop the facade.

If Republicans really care about protecting women and families, they will abandon their hyper-technical objections and join us in conference. The differences between the House and Senate-passed bills could be worked out easily.

American women and families are counting on our action.

Inaction

But this Congress Republicans have been more interested in inaction than in getting things done.

They’re more interested in blocking worthy legislation for partisan gain than in working together.

Their infighting and partisan games have stopped reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, Iran sanctions and the student loan fix in their tracks.

The FDA bill – which will prevent drug shortages and making life-saving medicines available more quickly – must not become another victim of their partisanship.

I hope Republicans seize this opportunity to be cooperative rather than combative.

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