Senate Democrats

Reid Urges House To Take Up Bipartisan, Senate Passed Farm And Immigration Bills

The Hastert Rule – passing only bills that have the support of the majority of the majority – doesn’t work. And it’s bad for the country.

Eventually [Speaker Boehner] will be forced to take up a more bipartisan measure – or the country will be left with no immigration reform at all, the worst possible outcome.

To find a responsible solution to the student loan issue – and every other major issue facing this Congress – the Speaker should work with his Democratic colleagues instead of against them. And he should remember that the only way to pass meaningful legislation in either chamber is to do so with votes from both reasonable Democrats and reasonable Republicans.

Washington, D.C.Nevada Senator Harry Reid spoke on the Senate floor today to urge House of Representatives to take up bipartisan, Senate-passed farm and immigration bills. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:

Welcome back. I hope all my colleagues had a restful and productive in-state work period.

It was a pleasure for me to spend time with my constituents in Nevada over the break. Everywhere I went I saw the immense enthusiasm for the historic, bipartisan immigration reform legislation we passed before the Fourth of July. Again and again I heard how pleased Nevadans were to finally see bipartisanship blossom in the United States Senate.

Americans of all political stripes are united behind the need for this common-sense reform. Even a large majority of Republicans believe immigration reform will be good for the economy and good for national security. The only Republicans who aren’t yet convinced are here in Washington, in the United States House of Representatives.

Sixty-eight Senators voted for historic reform in the Senate. But our responsibility didn’t end with that vote. Now it is our duty to convince our colleagues in the House that bipartisan immigration reform that includes a pathway to citizenship makes economic sense as well as political sense.

Unfortunately, over the past few months Speaker Boehner has taken a less bipartisan route. Rather than moving to the center and advancing bills that would appeal to moderates on both sides of the Capitol, Speaker Boehner has repeatedly tried to pass legislation with only Republican votes.

The Hastert Rule – passing only bills that have the support of the majority of the majority – doesn’t work. And it’s bad for the country. Any major legislation passed by the House of Representatives with only Republican votes has no hope of being passed by the Senate or signed into law by President Obama.

I hope the Speaker has learned his lesson from recent high-profile failures of the short-sighted Hastert Rule.

Eventually he will be forced to take up a more bipartisan measure – or the country will be left with no immigration reform at all, the worst possible outcome. The Speaker should dispense with the posturing and delay, and do the right thing now. Take up the Senate farm bill now. Take up the Senate immigration bill now. These measures passed on overwhelming, bipartisan votes in this chamber.

Passing the Senate farm bill would create jobs while reducing the deficit by $23 billion. And it would make important reforms to both farm and Food Stamp programs without balancing the budget on the backs of hungry Americans.

Passing the Senate immigration bill would help 11 million people who are already contributing to our economy and our society get right with the law. And it will boost our economy and make our country safer all while reducing the deficit by nearly $1 trillion over the next two decades.

I remind the Speaker: there is no shame in passing bills moderates from both parties can support.

Americans want their elected officials to work together to fix the nation’s problems. That’s what we did in the Senate. I promise the formula will work in the House of Representatives as well.

Sticking to the Hastert Rule has prevented the House from passing legislation to reform America’s ailing postal service. Sticking to the Hastert Rule prevented the House from passing a measure that would give brick-and-mortar stores parity with online competitors. Sticking to the Hastert Rule prevented the House from passing a farm bill. And sticking to the Hastert Rule will prevent the House from passing immigration reform that stands a chance of becoming law.

Insisting on the Hastert Rule also prevented Speaker Boehner from reaching across the aisle to find a sensible solution to rising student loan interest rates. The legislation passed by the House would balance the budget on the backs of struggling students. The House legislation is worse for students than doing nothing at all. Under the House plan, as interest rates start to rise, student loan rates will rise with them. Soon, loan rates will be more than double.

To find a responsible solution to the student loan issue – and every other major issue facing this Congress – the Speaker should work with his Democratic colleagues instead of against them. And he should remember that the only way to pass meaningful legislation in either chamber is to do so with votes from both reasonable Democrats and reasonable Republicans.

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