“I’ve asked each Senator to come to the floor because it is important that we have an opportunity to talk about the crisis facing our country. This government shutdown is an embarrassment for our nation in the eyes of the world.”
“It is time for Senators to stand before the American people and publically discuss the path forward.”
“Open the government. Pay our bills. And let’s negotiate.”
Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid spoke on the Senate floor today regarding the negative impacts of the government shutdown. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
I’ve asked each Senator to come to the floor because it is important that we have an opportunity to talk about the crisis facing our country. This government shutdown is an embarrassment for our nation in the eyes of the world.
Today I read about five service members that were killed in Afghanistan over the weekend. Their families have already suffered an unbearable loss. But now the families of these fallen soldiers are being denied death benefits to help with burial of their lost loved ones because of this shameful and embarrassing government shutdown. There are no words to describe this situation – that America could fail the families of our fallen heroes. But the first word that comes to mind is appalling.
It is time for Senators to stand before the American people and publically discuss the path forward.
Democrats stand before you unified asking the Speaker to reopen the government – the whole government – and not in some piecemeal fashion that further demonstrates to the world that we are unable to find real solutions. Open the whole government so we can get back to work. Allow the government to do its duty by our military families and by every American family. Avert the threat of a catastrophic default on the nation’s bills. Then we’ll negotiate on anything you want to negotiate.
I want to be absolutely clear to my Republican friends: I am happy to sit down and talk about tax reform, health care, deficit reduction, farm policy, transportation policy. You name it and I am happy to talk about it.
Democrats have been asking to go to conference to work out a responsible budget compromise for more than six months, since the Senate passed its budget. So when the Speaker offered to go to conference last week, Democrats were happy to agree. We’re ready to go to conference as soon as the Speaker reopens the government and removes the threat of default.
We were also willing to negotiate this summer, when the Speaker himself proposed a clean continuing resolution that cut $70 billion from the Senate’s budget. But now the Speaker won’t agree to his own proposal, which passed the Senate 10 days ago.
Democrats have demonstrated our willingness to negotiate time and again. We are just as willing to sit down and talk today as we were this spring and as we were this summer. But in the meantime, we must open the government and live up to our obligations as a country.
To that end, today I will introduce a bill to allow the United States to pay its bills with no preconditions or strings attached. Republicans and Democrats may have our differences, but we should not hold the full faith and credit of the United States hostage while we resolve them. I hope we can get Republican cooperation to move this bill quickly. If not, the process could take us right up to the deadline. But I am optimistic that my Republican colleagues will not filibuster this bill. I am optimistic they will not hold the full faith and credit of the United States hostage.
In the meantime, we should re-open the federal government immediately. We should get back to the business of protecting American families. We should get back to the business of legislating. That is our job, always has been our job and always will be our job. Open the government. Pay our bills. And let’s negotiate.