Washington, DC—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the following statement today on the Senate floor. Democrats are working to strengthen our economy and create good-paying jobs here in America by debating the SAFETEA-LU highway technical corrections bill this week. This legislation will allow the completion of important highway and transit projects outlined in the 2005 SAFETEA-LU transportation bill:
“M. President, millions of Americans put a big red circle on their calendars for today – April 15th, tax day. As we send in our taxes – perhaps some of us waiting on line at the post office at the very last minute – it is a good time to give thought to the economic state of our families and our country.
“Since President Bush took office, the cost of gasoline has more than doubled. Risen more than 100%. The cost of home heating has skyrocketed. The price we pay for groceries has never been higher. The same is true for health care, prescription drugs and college tuition.
“We are paying record prices for nearly everything, yet the average household income has not kept pace – in fact it has dropped. American families are earning less and paying more. The Republican answer for seven long years has been to slash taxes for the ultra-wealthy. To side with big business, the oil companies, the utility companies — and let the little guy fend for himself.
“The Democratic plan – cut taxes for the middle class. End the dependence on oil that keeps our gas and heating bills sky-high. Make health care and college tuition more affordable for families.
“Democrats have tried now for days to quickly pass the Highway Technical Corrections bill. The title of the bill may be a little dry, but this legislation is about building and maintaining our infrastructure and creating good new jobs.
“Twenty-two thousand Americans lost their jobs in January. Sixty-three thousand lost their jobs in February—eighty thousand in March. These are not statistics – they are families. At a time when we are losing tens of thousands of jobs a month and our nation is sliding into recession, we should be doing everything possible to stimulate the economy and create new jobs.
“The Highway Technical Corrections bill could unleash $1 billion on infrastructure projects that have already been approved and budgeted for. This legislation simply corrects technical errors with the original bill that have held up desperately-needed projects from receiving funds already set aside.
“Mr. President, this bill does not create new policy or propose new spending. It could create more than 40,000 good jobs. It should not be controversial. Yet for several days, our Republican friends have refused to allow us to move forward with this bill. They have slow-walked this non-controversial, bipartisan legislation for reasons that they have yet to make clear. This, of course, is nothing new.
“Since Democrats took control of Congress last year, we have worked hard to bring bipartisan legislation to the floor that addresses the problems of America’s working families. Rather than work with us to get things done, the Republican approach has to been to delay and disrupt the workings of the Senate. Time after time, our Republican colleagues have seemed intent on obstruction only for obstruction’s sake.
“In just one year, Republicans set the all-time Senate record for filibusters that previously took two years to set. They have pursued this course on legislative matters large and small. They have even employed this delaying tactic on matters they would ultimately come to support. And the most unfortunate aspect of the Republican strategy is that real people suffer because of it.
“The faster we pass this bill into law, the faster long-overdue infrastructure projects can finally begin and good jobs will reach communities in need.”