March 28, 2011
Washington, DC—Nevada Senator Harry Reid made the following remarks today regarding ongoing budget negotiations, which are being derailed by Republican infighting. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
“I welcome back all of my colleagues from what I hope was a productive week back home.
“The past week was a productive one for the most crucial and most closely watched discussion in Congress – our negotiations to keep the country running with a responsible budget for the rest of this fiscal year.
“Though the Senate and House chambers have been dark, Senators and Members of Congress worked together every day of the last week – me, my staff, the White House and the House of Representatives. Members of both parties, members of the Congressional leadership and members of the Appropriations Committees. We’ve all been in contact.
“We’ve worked hard to make progress and pursue an agreement and a budget that best serves the American people. Democrats’ priorities and goals have not changed from day one: we are committed to a long-term budget based in reality, not ideology. We’re committed to keeping the country running, not using the American people as political pawns or to score partisan points.
“We’re more than willing to make smart cuts, but we’re unwilling to do so on the backs of hardworking middle-class families and the jobs they depend on. We’re ready to make tough choices that strengthen our economy, but won’t make arbitrary or careless cuts that weaken it.
“Let me briefly update the Senate on the progress of these talks, and on how far we have yet to go.
“On our side of the negotiating table, we’ve made a proposal. That proposal makes significant cuts, but will not hurt our fragile recovery. We’re also honest with ourselves and the country: We readily recognize that in the end, we won’t get everything we want. That’s true of any fair negotiation. We recognize that sacrifices are the cost of consensus, and we believe they’re worth it.
“But on the other side, Republicans refuse to negotiate on a final number. That’s because the biggest gap in this negotiation isn’t between Republicans and Democrats – it’s between Republicans and Republicans.
“The infighting between the Tea Party and the rest of the Republican Party – including the Republican leadership in Congress – is keeping our negotiating partner from the negotiating table. And it’s pretty hard to negotiate without someone else on the other side of the table.
“Republicans have to resolve their own deep disagreements before we can find middle ground between the two parties. We’ve tried to wait patiently for them to do that, but our patience and the American people’s patience is wearing thin.
“We have only two weeks before the current temporary budget expires. Time is not on our side, so it’s time to get to work.
“Let me once again remind the Senate that our willingness to compromise is in recognition of reality. We’ve already voted on a Democratic proposal and a Republican proposal. We have seen in practice – not just in theory – that neither plan can pass unless it’s adjusted. We all know that neither party can pass a bill without the other party, and neither chamber can send that bill to the President without the other chamber.
“Democrats have long ago acknowledged that we’ll need Republicans to pass a bill. But Republicans still haven’t admitted to themselves that they’ll need Democrats to pass one, too.
“Cooperation and compromise are not just good ideas. They’re not political slogans. They are essential to the end game. With a cooperative spirit and willingness to compromise, we can move the country forward. Without them, we can’t. It’s as simple as that.
“I can speak only for my side when I say we’re ready to negotiate and legislate. We’re ready to do our jobs. But we can’t negotiate with ourselves, and we won’t negotiate through the media.
“Once the Republicans settle their own internal disagreements and decide what they stand for, we’ll get this done. Until that happens, the country waits, watches and worries.”
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