Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid spoke on the Senate floor today regarding a House vote on the Senate-passed middle class tax cut, cyber security legislation and the Republican filibuster of Judge Robert Bacharach, a circuit judge nominee with bipartisan support. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
I was pleased to hear Speaker Boehner say last week that he will bring the Senate-passed middle class tax cut to the House floor for a vote.
The nation is one vote away from avoiding the fiscal cliff for middle class families.
Every member of the House of Representatives should have the opportunity to show where they stand: with millionaires or with the middle class.
Members can support Democrats’ plan to cut taxes for 98 percent of Americans while reducing the deficit by almost $1 trillion.
Or they can support the Republican plan to hand out more tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires while increasing taxes for 25 million families struggling to put kids through college and food on the table.
The two approaches demonstrate a glaring difference in priorities.
But there’s another difference between the two plans: Democrats’ proposal is the only one with a chance of actually becoming law.
President Obama has said he would sign it tomorrow. What he won’t do is sign into law any more wasteful giveaways to the wealthiest two percent.
And the Senate has already defeated the Republican proposal in a bipartisan vote, so it’s simply a waste of time for House Republicans to continue to pursue their middle-class tax hike.
House Republicans should stop holding the middle class hostage to extract more tax cuts for the richest of the rich. They should pass our middle class tax cut now.
American families can’t afford to wait until the last moment to find out what their bottom line will look like come January 1.
They’re sitting around the kitchen table today figuring out whether they can afford to buy their first house, send their kids to college or retire.
Republicans shouldn’t force 114 million families to guess whether they’ll have $1,600 less to spend or save next year.
They need certainty now. And one simple vote can give them that certainty.
Today the Senate also continues work to address a problem national security experts call the most urgent threat to our country: weaknesses in our defenses again cyber attack.
Cyber terrorism could cripple the computer networks that control our electrical grid, water supplies and sewers, nuclear plants, energy pipelines, transportation networks, communications equipment and financial systems.
General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said “a cyber attack could stop this society in its tracks.”
But cyber espionage doesn’t just threaten our national security – it threatens our economic security.
Hackers have already attacked most major corporations and the NASDAQ stock exchange.
Attacks like these cost our economy billions of dollars a year and thousands of jobs.
General James Clapper, director of National Intelligence, said Chinese cyber theft of American intellectual property is “the greatest pillaging of wealth in history.”
“That’s our future disappearing in front of us,” added General Keith Alexander, director of the National Security Administration.
In a report released last year, the Chamber of Commerce said government and the private sector should work together to develop incentives for businesses to voluntarily act to protect our nation’s critical infrastructure.
This legislation will do exactly that – establish a public-private partnership to make our nation safer and protect American jobs.
I hope that the Chamber will join the effort to pass this important legislation.
While I personally believe this bill could go further to address threats to critical infrastructure – the networks that operate our electric grid, our water supply and other life-sustaining systems – it is a tremendous first step.
I applaud Senator Lieberman, Senator Collins, Senator Feinstein and Senator Rockefeller for their work on this legislation.
The bill managers are compiling a list of relevant amendments for consideration. I hope we can cooperate to work through that list and pass this legislation by the end of the week.
We can’t afford to fail to address what experts call the greatest security challenge since the dawn of the nuclear age.
Today the Senate will vote on whether to end a filibuster of Judge Robert Bacharach, a nominee from Oklahoma to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.
By any measure, Bacherach is the type of non-controversial nominee the Senate would routinely confirm with broad, bipartisan support.
He was reported out of the Judiciary Committee by voice vote.
And he has the support of the two Republican Senators from his home state of Oklahoma.
Senator Coburn, the Junior Senator from Oklahoma, said Friday, Bacherach is “just a stellar candidate, and he ought to get through.”
Yet Republicans have signaled they may block his confirmation.
If they hold up this consensus candidate, it will be the first time an appeals court nominee with bipartisan committee support has ever been successfully filibustered on the floor.
If Senator Coburn and Senator Inhofe withdraw their support for this qualified nominee, blatant partisanship will be to blame.
But don’t take my word for it. Senator Coburn said Bacherach is “an awfully good candidate caught in election-year politics.”