Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid made the following remarks on the Senate floor on the President’s recess appointment of Richard Cordray and the STOCK Act. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
Americans believe Congress is broken. And it’s no mystery why.
Political divisions in this chamber are so great they often prevent the Senate from performing even its most fundamental duties.
The divisions are so great they have prevented this body from confirming presidential nominees – our constitutional obligation.
These days, it’s no longer enough to be a qualified nominee.
It’s no longer enough to have bipartisan support.
And in the case of judicial nominees, it’s no longer enough to be reported unanimously out of committee.
Last year, my Republican colleagues blocked or delayed scores of outstanding nominees. Why? Because they want to defeat President Obama, who made those nominations. That’s their number one goal.
And at the end of last year, Republicans refused to allow votes on 16 judicial nominees who were reported out of committee unanimously.
Unfortunately, this year may bring more of the same. Already this year, some Republicans have gone to the floor and threatened to drag out the confirmation process for every nominee for the rest of the year.
This Republican obstructionism is supposedly retribution for President Obama’s recess appointment of Richard Cordray – an eminently qualified nominee – to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
With a qualified leader at the helm, the Bureau will be able to effectively protect middle class families from the greed and excess of big Wall Street banks.
It will not impact smaller financial services firms that help Americans who don’t use banks. And it will not impact banks that deal fairly with consumers.
But it will serve as a watchdog against the kinds of abuses that nearly collapsed our financial system in 2008.
President Obama’s right to recess appoint Mr. Cordray is protected in the Constitution.
President Bush had the same right to make recess appointments – even though Democrats kept the Senate in pro forma session.
Bush didn’t exercise that right – or challenge the pro forma sessions in court – because Democrats worked with him to confirm hundreds of his nominees.
Unfortunately, Republicans have refused to work with President Obama as Democrats worked with President Bush.
Instead they are threatening political payback and more delays.
This brand of obstructionism is the reason Americans are disillusioned with Congress. They believe Congress can’t get anything done.
It will take collaboration between Democrats and Republicans to turn that perception around.
We should show the American people that with cooperation between our two parties, this body can accomplish great things.
I am glad to see that spirit of cooperation is alive as we move forward with the STOCK Act.
Members of Congress and their staffers have a duty to the American people. They may not use privileged information they get on the job to personally profit.
But the perception remains that members of Congress are using their positions as public servants to serve themselves instead.
Insider trading laws were created to level the playing field. And members of Congress are not above the law.
We must play by the same rules every other American plays by.
The STOCK Act will clear up any perception that it is acceptable for members of Congress to profit from insider trading. And it will end any confusion over whether members of Congress can be prosecuted for this serious crime – they can be.
Colleagues from both parties have expressed support for this common-sense proposal. So I am disappointed that Republicans chose to filibuster this legislation, which should be passed without delay.