Senate Democrats

Reid: Republicans Have Held Up Work Of Congress, Our Economic Recovery With Partisan Politics

Time for Republicans to Reach Across the Aisle for the Sake of American Jobs

Washington, D.C. Nevada Senator Harry Reid made the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding Republicans’ obstruction of job-creation efforts. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:

Yesterday morning a gunman entered an IHOP restaurant in Carson City, Nevada and opened fire, killing four people and wounding several others before killing himself.

We are still learning the details of this tragedy. But we do know five of the victims were members of the Nevada National Guard.

It appears the gunman was targeting men and women in uniform, although authorities say the motive is unclear. Three Nevada National Guard members died yesterday from their wounds, as did one civilian.

Citizen soldiers willingly sacrifice time with their families and knowingly put themselves in harm’s way to protect a grateful nation. But no one expects to be in danger when they go out for pancakes in the morning.

I thank these five brave guardsmen for their commitment to Nevada and to this country. My thoughts are with them again today.

My heart also goes out to the families of the other Nevadans who were killed or wounded yesterday.

It is hard to imagine such a terrible thing taking place in the quiet town of Carson City, where I spent so much time when I was a Nevada state legislator and lieutenant governor. I wish all the citizens of Carson City well as they begin the process of healing after these shocking events.

This fall Democrats in Washington are hoping to find Republican allies willing to reach across the aisle for the sake of putting Americans back to work.

For months Republicans have wasted our time on partisan politics.

They have used unrelated amendments and procedural stall tactics to kill good pieces of legislation that have always had the support of Republicans and Democrats.

They blocked reauthorization of the Economic Development Administration, which created 314,000 jobs by spurring private investing using public grants awarded over the last five years. The EDA has worked with local businesses and universities in economically challenged areas to create jobs for 45 years.

And for nearly two months they held up efforts to pass a long-term reauthorization of the Small Business Innovation and Research Program before finally killing the bill altogether. This legislation would have helped more small technology companies – which invented everything from the electric toothbrush to armor for the Bradley tank – to innovate, grow and put Americans back to work.

The failure of these two pieces of legislation alone cost hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Republicans’ obstructionist tactics also cost time. And every moment wasted on procedural hurdles or useless amendments was a moment we weren’t creating jobs.

As Republicans held up the work of Congress for months in the hopes of defeating the President, they also held up our economic recovery.

We saw the toll in last month’s jobs report, which showed unemployment holding steady. That report should be a wakeup call to my colleagues on the other side.

It gives me hope that the Senate is now moving forward with the America Invents Act. It will reform this nation’s outdated patent system and create 270,000 jobs. And it will clear a three-year backlog of patent applications, so American inventors can take the next iPod or electric car from the drawing board to the production line.

I hope that spirit of bipartisanship continues. Because this Congress and this country cannot afford to waste any more time.

There are two things we must do this month that would create jobs right away. First, we must extend the authorization of the Federal Aviation Administration, safeguarding both airline passengers and aviation jobs. This legislation will protect 280,000 workers, including tens of thousands of construction workers, from layoffs at a time when jobs are already tough to find.

Second, we must authorize federal spending for this nation’s highways. About 1.8 million construction jobs on highway and mass transit projects nationwide are at stake.

But we should also consider any bipartisan idea to get our economy humming again.

Here are two ideas that Republicans have supported in the past: payroll tax cuts and an extension of Unemployment Insurance.

Extending the payroll tax cut could save 972,000 American jobs in 2012. Extending Unemployment Insurance during these tough economic times would save 528,000 American jobs.

Speaker Boehner and Leader Cantor wrote to the President yesterday, saying “our differences [should] not preclude us from taking action in areas where there is common agreement.”

I agree. Let’s start with the four commonsense, bipartisan measures I’ve just mentioned. They would create or save more than 2 million jobs.

So I urge my Republican colleagues, and in particular to Republican leaders, to remember these words: “our differences [should] not preclude us from taking action in areas where there is common agreement.”