March 1, 2012
Washington, D.C.– Nevada Senator Harry Reid made the following remarks on the Senate floor opposing Republicans' extreme, ideological attack on women's health care. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
Too often, cooperation is in short supply in the Senate. So I was pleased when we began consideration of a truly bipartisan jobs bill.
This legislation would put 2 million middle-class Americans back to work right away.
Although 1,000 organizations - including business groups and labor unions that rarely see eye to eye on anything - support this common-sense measure.
More than 30 of those groups – including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and AAA – have asked Senators to refrain from offering unrelated ideological amendments to this bill.
This is what they wrote recently:
These groups don’t agree on much, but they do agree this legislation is too important to be bogged down with political amendments. So they spoke out as one.
There was a time when that kind of cooperation was the standard in the Senate as well.
There was a time when two Senators who had little in common could still share common purpose.
There was a time when groups of Senators divided by political party could still be united in their desire to pass worthy legislation.
One Senator who has always exemplified that willingness to set aside philosophical and political differences and work together is my friend, the Senior Senator from Maine, Olympia Snowe.
I have always appreciated Senator Snowe’s ability to look at every side of an issue with a practical eye rather than a political eye.
Her courage, common-sense and moderation will be missed in the Senate.
Over the last 15 years, I have had the pleasure of working many times with Senator Snowe on an issue now at the forefront of debate – both across the nation and on the Senate floor.
Beginning in 1997, we worked together to increase women’s access to contraception, and to make sure insurance companies treated contraceptives like any other prescription medication.
There are plenty of things Senator Snowe and I disagree on. But by finding common ground we improved women’s health and reduced unintended pregnancies – something we should all be able agree on.
Unfortunately, the bipartisan progress Senator Snowe and I made over the years is under attack.
Today the Senate will vote on an extreme, ideological amendment to the bipartisan transportation bill. This amendment takes aim at women’s access to health care.
It would allow any employer or insurer to deny coverage for virtually any treatment for virtually any reason.
I was pleased to hear that Senator Snowe intends to oppose this measure.
Although the amendment was designed to restrict women’s access to contraception, it would also limit all Americans’ access to essential health care.
Here are just a few of the life-saving treatments employers could deny if this amendment passes:
To make matters worse, Republicans have held up progress on an important jobs bill to extract this political vote.
As the economy is finally accelerating, Republicans have tried to force Congress to take its foot off the gas.
Every member of this body knows the Blunt amendment has nothing to do with highways or bridges or train tracks. This amendment has no place on a transportation bill.
But with 2 million jobs at stake, the Senate cannot afford to delay progress on a job-creating measure any longer. So Democrats have agreed to vote on Senator Blunt's amendment so we can finally move on.
Once the Senate disposes of this partisan, political amendment, I hope we will be able to resume in earnest bipartisan work on the transportation jobs bill.