“It is possible to hold fast to your principles while making the compromises necessary to move our country forward.”
“Democrats will hold fast to the guiding principle that a strong middle class – and an opportunity for every American to enter that middle class – is the key to this nation’s success.”
“But not a single piece of important legislation can pass the Senate or become law without the votes of both Democrats and Republicans. So we will also be willing to compromise and to work with our colleagues across the aisle.”
Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid spoke on the Senate floor today regarding compromise and Democrats’ legislative priorities for the 113th congress. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
Today – with the inspiration of the second inauguration of President Barack Obama fresh in our minds – we renew our effort to fulfill the promise of prosperity for every American. The theme of yesterday’s inauguration was “faith in America’s future.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – whose birth and life we also celebrated Monday – once said, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” I have faith that the members of the 113th Congress will bring this nation closer to realizing that promise of prosperity.
The last Congress was too often characterized by sharp political divides – divides that hampered efforts to foster success for all Americans. I am hopeful – cautiously optimistic – that the 113th Congress will be characterized not by our divisions, but by our renewed commitment to cooperation and compromise. I urge every woman and every man fortunate enough to serve in this Chamber to remember: It is possible to hold fast to your principles while making the compromises necessary to move our country forward.
Democrats will hold fast to the guiding principle that a strong middle class – and an opportunity for every American to enter that middle class – is the key to this nation’s success. Democrats will stand strong – strong for the standard of balance. And we will remain resolute – resolute in the pursuit of fairness for all Americans, regardless of where they were born or the color of their skin, regardless of the size of their bank accounts, regardless of their religion or their sexual orientation.
Those principles will direct our course as we introduce our first ten bills today – a tradition in the United States Senate – and as we mend our broken immigration system, strengthen our schools and rebuild our roads and bridges. Those principles will be foremost in our minds as we balance the right to bear arms with the right of every child to grow up safe from gun violence. Those principles will be our North Star as we work to end wasteful tax loopholes and balance thoughtful spending reductions with revenue from the wealthiest among us. And those principles will point the way as we work to ensure this country’s uniformed service members never struggle to find employment when their military duties end. Through every struggle and every triumph, those principles must be our guide.
But not a single piece of important legislation can pass the Senate or become law without the votes of both Democrats and Republicans. So we will also be willing to compromise and to work with our colleagues across the aisle.
Unfortunately, a number of bipartisan bills passed by the Senate during the last Congress were never acted upon by the House of Representatives. So this year the Senate will also revisit some of the legislative priorities of the 112th Congress. We will take up the Violence Against Women Act, the farm bill, historic reforms to save the United States Postal Service and legislation to make whole the victims of Hurricane Sandy. Each of these initiatives passed the Senate on a bipartisan basis after deliberation and debate during the 112th Congress, but was left to languish by the House of Representatives.
The Senate will continue to help our fellow Americans recover from Hurricane Sandy before another, similar disaster strikes. Hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses were destroyed in New York, New Jersey and New England, and tens of thousands of Americans were left homeless by this destructive storm. We have a responsibility to aid our countrymen as they rebuild and their lives and their communities – as we have after terrible floods, fires and storms in other parts of our nation. Once we complete that vital legislation, the Senate will take action to make this institution that we all love work more effectively. We will consider changes to the United States Senate rules.
Because this matter warrants additional debate, today we will follow the precedents set in 2005 and again in 2011. We will reserve the right of all Senators to propose changes to the Senate rules. And we will explicitly not acquiesce in the carrying over of all the rules from the last Congress. It is my intention that the Senate will recess today, rather than adjourn, to continue the same legislative day, and allow this important rules discussion to continue. I am hopeful the Republican leader and I will reach an agreement that allows the Senate to operate more effectively.