Senate Democrats

Reid Remarks On The Republican Government Shutdown

“Yesterday I offered to meet House Republicans’ demand and enter into a budget conference. My only condition? That budget conferees negotiate in the light of day, while the government is open for business. Much to my surprise, Speaker Boehner refused and Senate Republicans objected.” 

“Republicans honestly don’t know what they want and don’t have a game plan… I just hope Republicans can figure out what it is they want before the damage to the economic recovery is irreversible.” 

“Tea Party Republicans don’t really want a way out of this government shutdown. But more than 20 reasonable Republicans in the House of Representatives have said on the record that they are ready to pass a clean continuing resolution to reopen the government.  I wasn’t a math major, but I can count. If those 20 reasonable Republicans unite with 200 House Democrats, we could end this shut down today.” 

Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid spoke on the Senate floor today regarding efforts to end the Republican government shutdown.  Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:

Yesterday I made Speaker Boehner an offer I thought he couldn’t refuse. House Republican leaders demanded the Senate join them in a conference committee to work out our budget differences. That seemed like a good idea to me. That’s why Democrats asked consent to do exactly that – go to conference on a budget – almost six months ago.

So yesterday I offered to meet House Republicans’ demand and enter into a budget conference. My only condition? That budget conferees negotiate in the light of day, while the government is open for business. Much to my surprise, Speaker Boehner refused and Senate Republicans objected. These guys truly don’t know when to take yes for an answer.

Of course, they never have. This spring, after years of Republicans loudly longing for the Senate to pass a budget resolution, despite already having a budget with the force of law, Republicans got their way. The Senate passed a budget. We stayed up until 5 o’clock in the morning voting on amendments. And then Senate Democrats asked to go to conference to work out our budget differences with our counterparts in the House of Representatives. But Republicans objected. I couldn’t believe my ears. When Republicans finally got what they said they wanted, it turned out they didn’t want it after all.

Yesterday was the same story. Republicans ask to go to conference on the budget. Democrats agree. Republicans object. These tactics are truly Orwellian.

Or maybe Republicans honestly don’t know what they want and don’t have a game plan. Marlin Stutzman, the Republican Congressman from Indiana, admitted as much to the Washington Examiner. This is what he said: “We’re not going to be disrespected. We have to get something out of this. And I don’t know what that even is.”

Republicans should come to their senses, and realize there is more than wounded pride on the line. The longer this Republican government shutdown persists, the harder it will be on our economy. I just hope Republicans can figure out what it is they want before the damage to the economic recovery is irreversible.

It’s obvious the strain of a self-inflicted shutdown is starting to wear on many Republicans. There were reports of vicious infighting from yesterday’s Senate Republican caucus meeting. This is what one Republican said after the meeting: “It was very evident to everyone in the room that [the junior Senator from Texas] doesn’t have a strategy – he never had a strategy, and could never answer a question about what the end-game was.”

That is the danger of following the Tea Party off a cliff. They are modern-day anarchists. A government shutdown is the end game for them. Tea Party Republicans don’t really want a way out of this government shutdown.

But more than 20 reasonable Republicans in the House of Representatives have said on the record that they are ready to pass a clean continuing resolution to reopen the government.  I wasn’t a math major, but I can count. If those 20 reasonable Republicans unite with 200 House Democrats, we could end this shut down today.

So I have a message for my mainstream Republican colleagues. If you ever hope to get out of this mess – if you ever hope to end this Republican government shutdown – you will need to work with Democrats to do it. Democrats are willing to be reasonable. We are willing to sit down and negotiate a long-term budget in conference committee. Simply help us reopen the government and we can start negotiations today. I say to my mainstream Republican friends: it is time to defy your Tea Party overlords.

Every day that passes the idea of shutting down the government in order to repeal ObamaCare becomes less and less popular. Considering only a handful of American supported the strategy to begin with, that’s a bad sign for Republicans.

Millions of Americans have visited the federal marketplace exchange website over the last three days. Demand is so high the national website even crashed briefly. This is not unprecedented. When Google first started they experienced the same challenge.

State-based exchanges have also flourished. In Kentucky, for example, more than 100,000 people have already visited the state’s healthcare exchange website. More than 10,000 people have filled out applications for health coverage and more than 3,000 Kentucky families have already enrolled in new coverage. This shows the hunger the American people have to sign up for affordable health coverage.

When the history books are written, Obamacare will be seen as the greatest single step since Medicare to provide quality, affordable health care to all Americans. The more American learns about the Affordable Care Act, the more they like it. And Republicans would be wise to abandon their impractical quest to repeal it before it’s too late.

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