“Republicans were desperate… to have a budget debate… So I was amazed yesterday when Senate Republicans blocked attempts to begin debate on the Senate budget resolution.”
“They said they wanted to debate and pass a budget. Well, here was their chance.”
“Democrats are willing to… debate the issues. And with the American people on our side, this is a debate we know we can win.”
Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid spoke on the Senate floor today regarding Republican objections to considering the Senate Budget Resolution. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
For the last few years, Republicans have been hollering that the Senate hasn’t passed a budget. They have done so in spite of the fact that Republicans in both chambers voted for the Budget Control Act, which set spending levels for the last two years.
Every reasonable political observer admits the Budget Control Act, which had the force of law, was a budget by another name. But still Republicans pined for the days of so-called regular order – when the Senate would vote on a budget resolution that would set spending priorities for the fiscal year.
Republicans were desperate, they said, to have a budget debate. Republicans were desperate for an amendment vote-a-rama. And they had charts to prove it. They had press conferences to prove it. They even had a calendar tallying the days since the Senate has passed a budget resolution.
So I was amazed yesterday when Senate Republicans blocked attempts to begin debate on the Senate budget resolution. Republicans said they wanted to debate and pass a budget. Well, here was their chance. Yet the Junior Senator from Kansas, Senator Moran, objected to a request to begin debating the budget unless we vote on his proposed amendment to the continuing resolution.
Senator Moran is concerned air traffic control towers in Kansas will close because of across-the-board sequester spending cuts. I say to my colleague, the Senator from Kansas, we are all concerned about the impact of these cuts. In Nevada, more than 100 families will lose access to low-income housing because of the sequester. Nationwide, more than 70,000 little boys and girls will be kicked off Head Start. Over time, these arbitrary cuts will be very painful for millions of Americans.
We are all concerned about the sequester. That is why the Senate Democratic budget proposal actually reverses the sequester. The policies outlined in our budget will save hundreds of thousands of jobs and safeguard communities by keeping police, air traffic controllers and meat inspectors on the job.
Reversing the sequester would alleviate Senator Moran’s concern about air traffic controllers in Kansas. But the Senate can’t debate a thoughtful way to replace the sequester if Republicans won’t even let us debate our budget proposal.
We know Republicans and Democrats won’t agree on every aspect of the budget – which sets priorities for how the government spends money and how it saves money.
Republicans have one plan for Medicare – turn it into a voucher program. Democrats have another – to preserve and protect Medicare for our children and grandchildren.
Republicans have one plan for taxes – lower them for the rich and let the middle class foot the bill. Democrats have another – ask the wealthiest individuals and corporations to contribute a little more to reduce the deficit.
Republicans have one plan to reduce the deficit – rely on harsh austerity that shortchanges the elderly, veterans, the middle class and the poor. Democrats have another – a balanced approach that couples smart spending cuts with new revenue from closing loopholes that benefit the wealthiest Americans.
We have our differences. But Democrats are willing to discuss those differences. We’re willing to debate the issues. And with the American people on our side, this is a debate we know we can win.