Senate Democrats

Reid Remarks On The Republican Government Shutdown

Republicans have had a very bad week. On the same day that Democrats in Congress delivered quality, affordable health insurance to tens of millions more Americans, Republicans in Congress delivered the nation a government shutdown.”

“It’s time for Republicans to stop throwing one crazy idea after another at the wall in the hopes something will stick. There has been a sensible plan to reopen the government right in front of House Republicans all along: the clean, six-week continuing resolution passed by the Senate last week.” 

“Once [Republicans] reopen the government, Senate Democrats will gladly appoint conferees and work out our long-term budget priorities with the House of Representatives.” 

Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid spoke on the Senate floor today about the consequences of the Republican shutdown.  Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:

Republicans have had a very bad week. On the same day that Democrats in Congress delivered quality, affordable health insurance to tens of millions more Americans, Republicans in Congress delivered the nation a government shutdown.

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, yesterday millions of Americans went online to shop for affordable insurance policies on the new marketplace exchanges. Thanks to the Republican government shutdown, hundreds of thousands of public servants were sent home without pay. Thanks to the Republican government shutdown, tourists lined up outside Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area outside Las Vegas but couldn’t get in. Thanks to the Republican government shutdown, a group of World War II veterans, some of them in wheelchairs, who traveled from Iowa and Mississippi had to break down barricades to visit a Washington, D.C. memorial in their honor.

And thanks to the Republican government shutdown, 200 sick patients – including 30 children – were turned away from a National Institutes of Health clinic that offers life-saving new treatments. Most of the children turned away are suffering from various forms of cancer.

I have read that modern-day anarchists in the House have been are celebrating this shutdown. They can barely contain their glee at having realized a 2010 campaign promise: to halt the basic functions of government. This is what Tea Party Congresswoman Michele Bachman said about the shutdown just yesterday: “It’s exactly what we wanted, and we got it.”

It is time for my Republican colleagues to do a gut check. Republicans in the House of Representatives have proposed one cockamamie, can’t-pass idea after another over the last few days. Defund ObamaCare. Delay ObamaCare. Deny preventive health care such as contraception for women under ObamaCare. Or else we’ll shut down the government. That’s what they said. They are obsessed with ObamaCare.

Well, now they’ve gotten their way: they’ve shut down the government. But none of their wacky ideas are any closer to becoming law.

And instead of reading the writing on the wall, House Republicans have turned to a new bad idea: to cherry pick a few parts of government they like and reopen only those parts. I am told the credit for this idea goes to the junior Senator from Texas. I have a bit of advice for my Republican colleagues in the House: when your latest brilliant plan came from the same person who proposed the “dumbest idea ever,” according to one of his own Senate Republican colleagues it’s a sign you’re on the wrong track.

It’s time for Republicans to stop throwing one crazy idea after another at the wall in the hopes something will stick. There has been a sensible plan to reopen the government right in front of House Republicans all along: the clean, six-week continuing resolution passed by the Senate last week.

I believe reasonable Republicans are desperately looking for a way out. I don’t blame them. But these piecemeal bills – which the Obama administration has already promised to veto – aren’t the answer. Reopening only the parts of the government that Republicans like isn’t a responsible solution.

The Senate already has a plan to reopen the government while we work out our budget differences: the clean continuing resolution we passed last week. If Republicans really want to reopen the government, they should just go ahead and reopen the government. They have had the power to do so all along.

And once they reopen the government, Senate Democrats will gladly appoint conferees and work out our long-term budget priorities with the House of Representatives. Let’s go to conference. Democrats have been advocating this approach for months. We shouldn’t be fighting over a six-week, stop-gap budget. We should be working out our long-term fiscal issues.

Americans are tired of this type of knock-down, drag out debt fights, which cost our economy billions of dollars. The way to put our nation on sound fiscal footing is to set sensible policy through the regular order of the legislative process – not to extort concessions through dangerous hostage taking.

Once Republicans reopen the government, the next move is to go to conference, and set our minds on reaching a reasonable compromise. Right now, Republicans – led by John Boehner – are the only thing standing between Congress and that compromise.

Unfortunately, it seem that some in the Republican conference are simply too mad at me personally – to obsessed with getting me to personally back down – to take the reasonable way out. I am the “villain of villains” according to the National Review. John Boehner could reopen the government this morning if he wanted to, but he’s too obsessed with beating the villain of villains – and too afraid of the Tea Party – to do the right thing for the country.

I know there are reasonable Republicans left in Congress who believe in public service. I urge them to think about 30 little children, many of them with cancer, turned away from life-saving medical care. I urge them to do the right thing. I urge them to join Democrats to reopen the federal government.

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