Senate Democrats

Reid Remarks at Democratic Leadership Press Conference

As prepared

Tomorrow, baseball returns to Washington, DC for the first time in 34 years. And when the Washington Nationals take the field at RFK Stadium, they will play by the same basic rules the Washington Senators did during their final game in 1971.

3 strikes and your out. 4 balls and you walk. 3 outs in an inning. 9 innings in a game.

Over the years, the basic rules in baseball have stayed the same, and even the sport’s youngest fans know that you can’t change the rules just to get your way. Unfortunately, Washington Republicans don’t seem to understand this fundamental principle.

In recent weeks, we’ve seen many examples of Republicans abusing their power and trying to change the rules.

First, after the Schiavo case, we had leaders in the House and some in the Senate questioning the independence of the Courts. Republicans and their allies said that judges should be punished or impeached for putting the law ahead of partisan ideology. Some even quoted Stalin in calling for the removal of judges…”No man, no problem.”

Then, in the House of Representatives, we’ve had a Republican leader admonished by the ethics committee three times. And what was his reaction? He changed the rules to protect himself.

Now Republicans are trying to bring this approach to the Senate. We have Republicans trying to change the rules, silence debate and ram through their radical judges to lifetime appointments on the bench.

What we are seeing is the arrogance and abuse of power. If Republicans don’t like the rules, they change them. If someone is standing in their way, they attack them. If they disagree with a judge’s ruling, they threaten them.

Democrats in Washington are the last remaining check on President Bush’s power. If they can silence us, they can turn the Senate into a rubber stamp for the president. Not just on judges. But on Supreme Court nominees. And legislation like Social Security too.

I hope responsible Republicans in this country and in the Senate will tell their leaders to stop the abuse of power. Let’s quit trying to change the rules, and get back to the work of the American people. They didn’t send us here to misuse or abuse our power, they sent us here to get things done.

Let’s focus on the people’s business, not partisan business.

We can take on the health care crisis in America. We can take steps towards energy independence, so families don’t go broke at the gas pump. We can help middle-class families make ends meet. We can even work together to put good judges on the bench who will protect our rights.

There is so much work we can do, and we don’t have to change or debate the rules to do any of it.

I hope Republicans will put aside their attempt to grab more power, and join Democrats in the real work before us.