Senate Democrats

Reid Remarks Prior To A Vote To Avert A Government Shutdown

“The Republican Party has been infected by a small but destructive faction that would rather tear down the house our founders built than govern from it. These extremists are more interested in putting on a show… than in legislating.” 

“Republicans fought long and hard in opposition to Obamacare. And they lost. Then they made their case against Obamacare directly to the American people in November. And they lost. President Obama was reelected – and not by a small margin. He won by 5 million votes. And Obamacare remains the law of the land.” 

“I urge sensible Republicans in the House of Representatives to… let House Democrats vote. Pass a clean bill to avert a shutdown. Defy the anarchists. Respect the rule of law. And help the Senate govern.” 

Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid spoke on the Senate floor prior to a vote to prevent a government shutdown and protect the economic recovery. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:

During my time in Washington, I have had the opportunity to work with many reasonable, thoughtful Republicans, including many serving in this body today. Those reasonable Republicans value this institution – the United States Senate – and they respect the government of which it is a part.

But today the Republican Party has been infected by a small but destructive faction that would rather tear down the house our founders built than govern from it. These extremists are more interested in putting on a show, as one Republican colleague put it, than in legislating. That’s why they prevented the Senate from taking action to avert a government shutdown last night – to put on a show today.

Despite pleas from the House of Representatives for quick Senate action that same vocal minority was determined to waste the dwindling hours before a government shutdown. Although every minute that passes puts this country one minute closer to a shutdown – a shutdown that could shatter our economy – they continue to obstruct and delay. But a bad day for government is a good day for the anarchists among us.

It is important to note that these Tea Party obstructionists do not represent mainstream Republicans – either mainstream Republicans in Congress or mainstream Republicans in our great country. But unfortunately, their grip on the rudder of the Republican Party is firm. For the last few years, these radicals in the House and the Senate have driven America from crisis to crisis, leaving a trail of economic destruction behind them. And now they have taken the United States government hostage and demanded an impossible ransom: that Democrats repeal the law of this land – Obamacare.

The Affordable Care Act has been the law of the land for four years. It was even declared constitutional by the United States Supreme Court.  And soon it will help 25 million people who are currently living without health insurance get access to the life-saving care they need and deserve.

There are people in this body who nonchalantly ignore the fact that tens of millions of Americans don’t have health insurance. I don’t know if they understand what it means not to be able to go to the doctor when you’re sick or hurt. Some of us do.

Republicans fought long and hard in opposition to Obamacare. And they lost. Then they made their case against Obamacare directly to the American people in November. And they lost. President Obama was reelected – and not by a small margin. He won by 5 million votes. And Obamacare remains the law of the land.

Yesterday on the Senate floor, my friend and colleague, the senior Senator from Arizona, Senator John McCain spoke with great eloquence about this law – a law he opposes. This is what Senator McCain said: “The people spoke. They spoke, much to my dismay, but they spoke and reelected the President of United States. That doesn’t mean that we give up our efforts to try to replace and repair Obamacare. But… elections have consequences… The majority of the American people supported the President of the United States and renewed his stewardship of this country. I don’t like it… But I think all of us should respect the outcome of elections, which reflect the will of the people.”

Who said this? John McCain. Not some gadfly, but truly an American patriot.

This fall, those of us who respect the system of government devised by America’s founders – those of us who believe in the rule of law and that elections reflect the will of the people – will face a test. Can we prevent an economically disastrous government shutdown and can we protect the full faith and credit of the United States of America? Can we overcome the modern-day anarchists?

In a few moments the Senate will take the first step toward wresting control from these extremists. Democrats will vote to avert a government shutdown. I am confident many of my Republican colleagues will vote with us to allow the government to perform its basic duties. Together, we will send a message to radical Republicans that we will not allow the law of the land to be used as a hostage.

I am pleased that so many of my Senate Republican colleagues seem to understand the stakes of this debate: the economic health of a still-struggling nation and the economic well-being of still-struggling families. I urge sensible Republicans in the House of Representatives to follow their lead. Let House Democrats vote. Pass a clean bill to avert a shutdown. Defy the anarchists. Respect the rule of law. And help the Senate govern.

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