Reid Remarks On Arbitrary Budget Cuts
April 24, 2013
Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid spoke on the Senate floor today regarding the status of the Marketplace Fairness Act and the sequester’s arbitrary budget cuts. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
Today work continues on the Marketplace Fairness Act, which would level the playing field between online sellers and brick-and-mortar retailers. We could finish this legislation today, with cooperation from both sides.
I know many of my Republican colleagues want to attend the opening of the Bush Library in Texas tomorrow. Unfortunately, there are a few Senators who want to play procedural games with this bill.
I caution my colleagues, the Senate will stay in session until we finish this legislation, whether that happens today, tomorrow, Friday or Saturday. We have too much to do when we return from the in-state work period – including water resources legislation that will create jobs and protect vital water infrastructure followed by the farm bill – to let action on the Marketplace Fairness Act spill over into the next session.
The sequester was designed as a tool to bring Democrats and Republicans together to reduce the deficit in a responsible way. By now we can all see that didn’t work. And we can all see that the sequester’s costs far outweigh its savings.
Nationwide these across-the-board cuts will cost 750,000 jobs. They will cost us investments in education that keep America competitive. They will cost millions of seniors, children, veterans and needy families the safety net that keeps them from descending into poverty.
Most of the headlines are focused on the hours the sequester has cost travelers in airports across the nation. The frustration and the economic effects of those delays should not be minimized. But the sequester could also cost this country – and humankind – a cure for AIDS or Parkinson’s disease or cancer.
These arbitrary cuts have decimated funding for medical researchers seeking cures for diabetes, epilepsy and hundreds of other dangerous and debilitating diseases. The National Institutes of Health has delayed or halted vital scientific projects and reduced the number of grants it awards to research scientists. Thousands of researchers will lose their jobs in the next few months. And projects that can’t go on without adequate staffing will be cancelled altogether.
At Ohio State University, grants for cancer research and infectious disease control have been axed. At the University of Cincinnati – which is at the forefront in research on strokes, a leading cause of death in the United States – scientists are bracing for similar cuts. Vanderbilt University and the University of Kentucky are accepting fewer science graduate students because of funding reductions. At Wright State University, scientists researching pregnancy-related disorders such as preeclampsia will lose their jobs. Boston University has laid off lab scientists, and research laboratories in San Francisco have instituted hiring freezes and delayed the launch of important studies. And grants to some of Harvard University’s most successful research scientists were not renewed because of the sequester.
This kind of research saves lives. These scientists are looking for the next successful treatment for Alzheimer’s disease or the next drug to treat high cholesterol. But they might never get the chance to complete their groundbreaking work or make their life-saving discoveries because of these short-sighted cuts.
We have seen the devastating impacts of these arbitrary budget cuts. Now it’s time to stop them.
Last night I introduced legislation that would roll back the sequester for the rest of the year. This bill would give Democrats and Republicans time to sit down at the negotiating table and work out an agreement to reduce the deficit in a balanced way. And it wouldn’t add a penny to the deficit. It would use the savings from winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to prevent cuts that will harm our national security and our economy.
Before Republicans dismiss these savings, they should recall that 235 House Republicans voted to use these funds to pay for the Ryan Republican budget. They didn’t consider it a gimmick when it served their own purposes.
We can stop the flight delays and the pink slips. We can stop the devastating cuts to programs that protect low-income children, homebound seniors and homeless veterans. And we can stop the cuts to crucial medical research. But Democrats can’t do it without Republicans’ help.
Republican overwhelmingly voted for these painful, arbitrary cuts. And Republican bear responsibility for their consequences – from travel delays to cuts to vital research programs. Now Republicans must accept that they have an obligation to cooperate with Democrats to help stop these draconian cuts and mitigate those consequences.