Senate Democrats

Reid To House Republicans: Stop Wasting Time And Pass The Only Bill That Can Avoid The Fiscal Cliff For Middle-Class Families

In Response to House Republican Leadership, Reid Reminds Republicans That Sequester Cuts Resulted From Their Adherence to Tea Party Dogma

Reid to House Leadership: “Show Americans You Are Still Capable Of Accomplishing Something of Utility” By Passing Middle-Class Tax Cut

Vows to Keep Senate In Session as Long as Necessary If House Will Ask Millionaires and Billionaires to Pay Their Fair Share

Washington, D.C.Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) responded to a letter from House Republican leadership by reminding them that the sequester cuts – which each of the Republican signatories voted to pass – exist at their behest, and urging them to pass the Senate’s middle class tax cut, which is the only bill to avoid the fiscal cliff that can be signed into law.

“At the insistence of Republicans, and in recognition of the significant savings possible from winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, sequestration included military and other spending cuts, but not a penny of savings from closing a single corporate tax loophole,” Senator Reid writes. “Given this history, it is shocking that Republicans now want to renounce the spending cuts required by sequestration, without the balanced deficit reduction it was designed to produce.”

Senator Reid pointed out that the House has wasted the entire year with political show votes, instead of focusing on middle class families.

“For nearly two years, the Republican-led House has ignored the will of the American people by accomplishing virtually nothing of bipartisan substance,” he writes. “I urge you to show Americans that you are still capable of accomplishing something of utility by passing the only bill to avoid the fiscal cliff for middle-class families that has a chance of being signed into law: the Senate’s middle-class tax cut. In contrast, the bill being considered by the House today has already been rejected by the Senate on a bipartisan basis.”

Senator Reid asserted he would be happy to keep the Senate in session if Republicans dropped their dogmatic opposition to asking millionaires to pay their fair share.

“If the House is prepared to ask millionaires and billionaires to contribute their fair share, the Senate is prepared to remain in session as long as necessary to approve an agreement on a balanced deficit reduction package… Sadly, the House has wasted the year on empty, political show votes, while ignoring major job-creating legislation passed by the Senate on a bipartisan basis. The Senate’s farm bill, for example, would support 16 million jobs and strengthen the rural economy. Our postal reform bill would sustain over 8 million jobs and modernize the postal service. Yet these and other important bills, such as the Violence Against Women Act, stagnate in the pool of idleness and inactivity that the House has become.”

Full text of the letter is below. Identical copies were sent to Speaker John Boehner, Leader Eric Cantor, Whip Kevin McCarthy, and Conference Chairman Jeb Hensarling.

August 1, 2012

The Honorable John Boehner
Speaker
United States House of Representatives
H. 232 – U.S. Capitol
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Speaker Boehner:

Thank you for your letter insisting that the Senate pass Republican legislation to provide more tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires, and increase taxes on 25 million families, while reneging on spending cuts enacted in the bipartisan Budget Control Act.

It is worth reviewing how we got here. One year ago, Republicans threatened to force the United States into default unless Democrats agreed to cut Medicare and other programs important to America’s middle class. At the same time, at the behest of Tea Party radicals, the GOP rejected any proposal to ask millionaires, billionaires or large corporations to contribute a penny more to reduce the debt.

Democrats believe these GOP demands remain extreme and wrong. In our view, we should strengthen the middle class, not weaken it. And rather than handing out even more budget-busting tax breaks to those who need them least, we should cut spending responsibly, while asking the super-rich to contribute their fair share.

The vast majority of Americans – Democrats, Republicans and independents – agree with us.

Notwithstanding our deep differences with congressional Republicans, Democrats agreed to join with the GOP to pass the Budget Control Act, which avoided a catastrophic default and called for substantial spending cuts. The Act – which each of you voted to pass – also established sequestration, which threatened even deeper cuts in order to force the hard choices necessary to address our nation’s long-term fiscal challenges in a balanced and fair manner.

At the insistence of Republicans, and in recognition of the significant savings possible from winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, sequestration included military and other spending cuts, but not a penny of savings from closing a single corporate tax loophole. As Republican Senator Lindsay Graham said just today, “my party has their fingerprints all over [sequestration]. It was the Republican leadership who agreed with the concept…”

Given this history, it is shocking that Republicans now want to renounce the spending cuts required by sequestration, without the balanced deficit reduction it was designed to produce. This would be fiscally irresponsible. It would be more irresponsible, even immoral, to abandon deficit reduction while handing out more tax breaks for the super-rich.

Democrats have no intention of giving up on balanced deficit reduction. At the same time, we fully agree about the importance of avoiding the so-called fiscal cliff. Toward that end, the Senate recently passed legislation that cuts taxes for 114 million middle class families. By not extending tax breaks that only go to the very wealthy, the bill also produces critical savings that could be used to suspend sequestration as part of a comprehensive deficit reduction package.

I strongly urge the House of Representatives to approve these middle class tax cuts as soon as possible. For nearly two years, the Republican-led House has ignored the will of the American people by accomplishing virtually nothing of bipartisan substance. I urge you to show Americans you are still capable of accomplishing something of utility by passing the only bill to avoid the fiscal cliff for middle-class families with a chance of being signed into law: the Senate’s middle-class tax cut. In contrast, the bill being considered by the House today has already been rejected by the Senate on a bipartisan basis.

If the House is prepared to ask millionaires and billionaires to contribute their fair share, the Senate is prepared to remain in session as long as necessary to approve an agreement on a balanced deficit reduction package. Of course, I understand that such an agreement is unlikely in the short term given the refusal of House Republicans to work on a bipartisan basis to create jobs or pass any substantive legislation that has a chance of becoming law. Sadly, the House has wasted the year on empty, political show votes, while ignoring major job-creating legislation passed by the Senate on a bipartisan basis. The Senate’s farm bill, for example, would support 16 million jobs and strengthen the rural economy. Our postal reform bill would sustain over 8 million jobs and modernize the postal service. Yet these and other important bills, such as the Violence Against Women Act, stagnate in the pool of idleness and inactivity that the House has become.

While it is unfortunate that the House has temporarily been overtaken by partisanship and ideological extremism, I remain confident that, in time, we will be able to work together to address the serious problems facing our nation. As you must recognize, holding the middle class hostage in support of multi-millionaires is not a sustainable position. And surely, eventually, sequestration will overcome ideological extremism, as intended, and help force an agreement.

Whenever you are ready, Democrats will work with you cooperatively to strengthen the middle class, rebuild our economy, and address our nation’s long term fiscal challenges in a balanced and fair manner.

Best regards.

Sincerely,

HARRY REID
Majority Leader

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