Washington, DC— Nevada Senator Harry Reid released the following statement this evening regarding efforts to pass an extension of unemployment assistance for millions of out-of-work Americans:
“There has been a lot of attention over the last few days on the stalemate in the Senate. That attention is warranted. People deserve to know what their leaders are doing here – or, in this case, what some refuse to do – and how that affects their lives.
“So now that we’ve reached an agreement, let’s recap briefly what just happened here.
“Nearly a week ago, with unemployment and health benefits about to expire for tens of thousands of out-of-work Nevadans, Democrats tried to extend those benefits for a short time while a longer solution could be worked out. And we offered Republicans an up-or-down vote on their response to this emergency. They said no.
“After days and days of delay, Democrats just now offered Republicans the exact same up-or-down vote on their proposed response to this emergency. This time, they said yes.
“What happened in between? Hardworking Nevadans – people who want to work but can’t find a job – lost their lifelines, their economic security and their peace of mind.
“In between the time Republicans rejected a vote on their plan and the time they decided to take that offer,
· Thousands needlessly lost their benefits.
· Highway projects were put on hold and the thousands of men and women working on them were furloughed without pay.
· Lending to small businesses was frozen.
· And the reimbursement rate for doctors who treat our senior citizens was cut by a fifth.
“And for what? For no good reason.
“Republicans had an idea for how to pay for these benefits. We disagreed, but we wanted to give them a vote and let the majority of Senators decide democratically. That’s the way this body was built to work.
“But some were more interested in making a partisan point, or scoring political points, even if unemployed Americans were caught in the crossfire.
“If citizens want to know what’s clogging up Washington – if they want to know what’s standing between them and the help they need – they need to look no further than to the irresponsible stubbornness from the other side – and to the inexcusable silence of those who enabled it.”