“The Speaker of the House of Representatives is still sitting on the one bill that can reopen the government”
“If Republicans want to propose a legislative way to make the law better or more efficient, Democrats are willing to talk about that. But shutting down the government and hoping that will make ObamaCare disappear is truly magical thinking.”
“Democrats are willing to negotiate – on the budget, on Obamacare, you name it. And we’re willing to compromise. But first, Republicans must reopen the government and stop threatening a catastrophic default on the nation’s bills. They must respect the Democratic process.”
Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid spoke on the Senate floor today urging Speaker Boehner to bring a bill to reopen the government to the House floor. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
As we enter the second week of this Republican government shutdown, the Speaker of the House of Representatives is still sitting on the one bill that can reopen the government. Speaker Boehner insists the Senate-passed bill to end this shutdown can’t pass the House. I have a challenge for my friend, the Speaker: prove it.
If Speaker Boehner really believes that the bill won’t pass, then he shouldn’t worry about bringing it up for a vote. The House has wasted weeks voting more than 40 times to repeal ObamaCare, even though we all knew that was a fool’s errand. So I know the Speaker isn’t worried about wasting the people’s time. Could it be that the Speaker is really worried that reasonable Republicans will join Democrats to end this irresponsible Republican government shutdown?
Sensible Republicans have grown increasingly fed up with this shutdown. They’re looking for a way out. Just yesterday, Republican Congressman Pete King of New York said, “Republicans should not have started this. Closing the government down was the wrong thing to do.”
Congressman King called Speaker Boehner’s unreasonable strategy – to shut down the government unless Democrats agree to defund or delay ObamaCare, a law that will help 25 million uninsured American access affordable health care – “doomed to failure.” King went on to say yesterday, “If we want to defund something, we should repeal it, and do it the same way the President got it signed: elect Republicans to both houses of Congress, repeal it, and have a Republican president sign it.”
In other words, follow the Democratic process. I know Republicans don’t like ObamaCare. But the Affordable Care Act has been the law of the land for four years. It has been declared constitutional by the Supreme Court. And tens of millions of Americans are already benefiting from this law.
If Republicans want to propose a legislative way to make the law better or more efficient, Democrats are willing to talk about that. But shutting down the government and hoping that will make ObamaCare disappear is truly magical thinking.
Last week, Thomas Freidman wrote in the New York Times that ObamaCare is not really at stake in this showdown. It’s Democracy that’s at stake. This is what he said: “When extremists feel that insulated from playing by the traditional rules of our system, if we do not defend those rules — namely majority rule and the fact that if you don’t like a policy passed by Congress, signed by the president and affirmed by the Supreme Court then you have to go out and win an election to overturn it; you can’t just put a fiscal gun to the country’s head — then our democracy is imperiled.”
Freidman went on to say: “President Obama is not defending health care. He’s defending the health of our democracy. Every American who cherishes that should stand with him.”
Democrats stand with him. We believe deeply that ObamaCare is already saving lives and will save many more in the future. But we’re still willing to improve the law. Democrats are willing to negotiate – on the budget, on Obamacare, you name it. And we’re willing to compromise.
But first, Republicans must reopen the government and stop threatening a catastrophic default on the nation’s bills. They must respect the Democratic process. The Senate has already passed a bill that could end this Republican government shutdown tomorrow.
All Speaker Boehner has to do is be reasonable. Allow a vote in the House of Representatives on the Senate’s clean continuing resolution – a bill the Speaker proposed in the first place. It will pass. The government will reopen. Then we can get back to the negotiating table and work out our budget disagreements. We can even start talking about ways to make the Affordable Care Act work better. And we can even get back to the business of legislating.