Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid made the following remarks on the Senate floor today regarding efforts to reach a balanced, bipartisan agreement to avert the fiscal cliff. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
Too often, it is a challenge finding common ground in Washington.
But as we negotiate a path back from the fiscal cliff, we should also recognize when Democrats and Republicans agree.
We agree taxes should not go up for anyone making less than $250,000 a year – 97 percent of small businesses and 98 percent of middle-class families.
With common ground in sight, we should be able to act today to avert the fiscal cliff for millions of families and business.
Even if we disagree on whether to end tax breaks for the wealthiest two percent of Americans, we should agree to hold the middle class harmless – and do it now.
A single vote in the House of Representatives would get the job done.
Unfortunately, there’s one obstacle standing between Congress and compromise: Grover Norquist.
For years, Norquist has bullied lawmakers willing to put their oath of office or their promise to serve constituents ahead of their pledge to the anti-tax zealot.
His brand of ideological extremism has been bad for Congress and even worse for the country.
So I was pleased to see a few Republicans in Congress distance themselves from Norquist this week.
Several Republican lawmakers have said revenue should be on the table during fiscal cliff negotiations.
Now it’s time for those Republicans to turn happy talk into action.
President Obama and Senate Democrats ran on a promise to end the Bush tax breaks for the wealthy.
Americans raised their voices, cast their votes and supported our pledge.
Congress must act in accordance with the will of the American people.
An agreement to avoid the fiscal cliff must give economic certainty to middle-class families.
It must protect important tax deductions for families and businesses still struggling to recover from the Great Recession.
It must take a balanced approach to reduce spending.
But it must also ask the richest of the rich to pay a little extra to reduce the deficit.
Any balanced agreement will require difficult concessions from both sides.
Clinging to the kind of ideological purity Grover Norquist peddles – saying you’ll never bend or compromise – is easy.
Cooperating with those with whom you disagree is hard.
Doing what’s right for the country – despite the personal cost – is hard.
Legislating is hard.
As we approach the fiscal cliff, Democrats are ready to make tough choices.
I hope my Republican friends – especially those who claim they put no pledge before their pledge to serve their constituents – can say the same.