Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid made the following remarks on the Senate floor today regarding the need for bipartisan cooperation on cyber security legislation and a solution to avert the fiscal cliff for middle-class families. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
I have said the work before us in the waning days of this Congress represents a test of our character – a test of our willingness to rise above partisanship for the good of this great nation.
And although I was disappointed the Senate was unable to move quickly to vote on final passage of Senator Tester’s sportsman’s legislation, I hold fast to my optimism that we will pass this test.
We have a great deal to accomplish during the next six weeks in order to safeguard our country’s financial health and protect middle-class families.
But we won’t complete anything without bipartisan cooperation.
As Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell once said, “Bipartisanship means you work together to work it out.”
So I hope to see that type of cooperation on display when the Senate votes today to reconsider stalled cyber security legislation.
If we can work together to address these two measures – the sportsman’s package and the cyber security bill – it will set a tone of cooperation that could characterize the remainder of this Congress, and the next Congress as well.
National security experts say there is no issue facing this nation more pressing than the threat of a cyber attack on our critical infrastructure.
Terrorists bent on harming the United States could all too easily devastate our power grid, our banking system or our nuclear plants.
A bipartisan group of Senators has worked for three years to craft this legislation. Yet Republicans filibustered this worthy measure in July.
It’s imperative that Democrats and Republicans work together to address what national security experts have called “the most serious challenge to our national security since the onset of the nuclear age sixty years ago.”
I found it encouraging when a number of my Republican colleagues – Senators McCain of Arizona, Chambliss of Georgia, Hutchison of Texas, Kyl of Arizona, Coats of Indiana and Blunt of Missouri – recently wrote President Obama advocating legislative action on cyber security.
They wrote: “An issue as far-reaching and complicated as cyber security requires… formal consideration and approval by Congress… Only the legislative process can create the durable and collaborative public-private partnership we need to enhance cyber security.”
This group of Senators says they remain committed to the legislative process. Today, they have an opportunity to demonstrate that commitment.
On several occasions since Republicans filibustered the cyber security bill this summer, I have asked my colleagues to bring to me a list of amendments they would like to debate as we consider this legislation.
Today, they have yet another opportunity to do so.
They can show their commitment to a legislative solution to the cyber security threat by advancing this worthy measure and moving forward with a productive debate on the issue.
This is yet another opportunity for this Congress to prove it can cooperate and compromise when it matters most. But it won’t be our last opportunity.
Before the end of the year, we must craft a balanced agreement to reduce the deficit and protect middle-class families from a tax hike.
As cyber terrorism represents a serious threat to our national security, so the looming fiscal cliff represents a serious threat to our economic security.
I am heartened to see that a number of Republicans – including a number of prominent conservatives – have opened the door to a balanced agreement.
Bill Kristol, a leading conservative commentator, said, “It won’t kill the country if we raise taxes a little bit on millionaires. It really won’t.”
And Glenn Hubbard, an advisor to the Romney campaign, conceded that any agreement must include revenue increases.
It’s simple math. To protect the middle class, it will be necessary to ask millionaires and billionaires to contribute a little more as we work to reduce the deficit.
Democrats understand we won’t get everything we want from a bipartisan accord.
But Republicans should realize they won’t get everything they want, either.
And that shouldn’t prevent us, as my esteemed predecessor said, from working together to work it out.