Washington, DC— Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the following statement this morning on the floor of the U.S. Senate. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
“The coming weeks are a critical time – not just here in Congress, but for our country.
“This month, we will work to stabilize our broken health care system and lower costs for the middle class.
“This month, we will also discuss, debate and – I am confident – ultimately confirm President Obama’s outstanding nominee for the Supreme Court, Judge Sonia Sotomayor.
“Both of these goals require both sides to work together. Each requires us all to work in good faith.
“Because if we are to do what this country needs us to do, we must work as partners, not partisans.
“We have said all along we strongly prefer to fix health care as one collaborative body, not as two competing parties.
“I am encouraged that we will do so. Last week I had a positive meeting with four senior Republican Senators about the road ahead for health care reform.
“I appreciate the commitment of those Republicans to getting this done, and I look forward to more Republicans showing the same commitment.
“The Finance and HELP committee chairmen are working tirelessly to mark up the health care bills. Our goal remains the same – we’d like to see these bills on the floor in July. And we hope our Republican colleagues will work with us to achieve that goal.
“Just as our commitment to a bipartisan plan has not changed, neither have our principles about that plan: lowering skyrocketing costs, and bringing stability and security back to health care.
“We are committed to passing a plan that protects what works and fixes what’s broken. A plan that ensures that if you like the coverage you have, you can keep it. We’ll make sure people can still choose their own doctors, hospitals and health plans.
“Americans need affordable health care they can count on. Too many families live just one illness, or one accident, or one pink slip away from financial ruin. The cost of inaction is too great, and the status quo is no longer an option.
“On another subject: Today, July 13, is an historic day in America. Right now, Judge Sonia Sotomayor is testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee as President Obama’s nominee for the highest court in our country. As we all know, she is the first Hispanic American to do so.
“Judge Sotomayor has a wide-range of experience not just in the legal world, but in the real world as well. Her understanding of the law is grounded not only in theory, but also in practice.
“Her record and qualifications are tremendous. She has worked at almost every level of our judicial system – as a prosecutor, litigator, a trial court judge and an appellate judge.
“That’s exactly the type of experience we need on the Supreme Court. And when she is confirmed, she will bring to the bench more judicial experience than any sitting justice had when they joined the Court.
“Judge Sotomayor has been nominated by both Democratic and Republican presidents. She has been confirmed twice by the Senate with strong, bipartisan support. Her record is well-known and well-respected.
“We are committed to ensuring that Judge Sotomayor has a rigorous and reasonable confirmation hearing. We expect both sides to ask her tough questions, and we expect both the questions and their answers to be fair and honest.”