April 23, 2012
Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid spoke on the Senate floor today regarding a National Labor Relations Board rule, reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act and Senate action to stop student loan interest rates from doubling. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
America has the best, brightest and most dedicated workers in the world. All those workers need is a fair shot to succeed.
But right now many workers in this country don’t enjoy the same rights as the wealthy CEOs they work for – to negotiate the terms of their employment.
A new rule from the National Labor Relationship Board will remove unnecessary obstacles to workers’ rights to form a union if they choose.
I solidly support this rule. And I urge all my colleagues to vote tomorrow against the resolution of disapproval that would strike down this common-sense rule.
The new rule doesn’t encourage unions, but it doesn’t discourage them either. It just gives workers the ability to vote yes or no, while minimizing the chances of intimidation.
Tomorrow the Senate will also vote on a number of amendments to a bipartisan postal reform bill.
This important piece of legislation will safeguard more than 8 million jobs that depend on a vibrant postal system.
It will also protect postal customers – particularly elderly and disabled Americans, and people who live in rural parts of the country.
I am pleased we reached an agreement to allow Senators to offer relevant amendments to this bill.
And I hope once we work through those amendments tomorrow we will see a strong, bipartisan vote to modernize the post office and save this important institution from insolvency.
Once we pass postal reform tomorrow, as I expect we will, the Senate will move on to consideration of another very important piece of legislation: reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.
Since its passage in 1994, the Violence Against Women Act has reduced the annual incidence of domestic violence by more than 50 percent.
Despite that incredible progress, we still have work to do to keep women and families safe.
Three women die in this country every day at the hands of abusive partners. And for every victim who is killed, there are nine more who narrowly escape death.
It would be unacceptable to step back from our national commitment to stop violence and abuse now.
VAWA was unanimously reauthorized by the Senate in 2000 and 2005. This effort should be – and traditionally has been – above partisanship. I hope that proves to be the case again in 2012.
This year it has 60 cosponsors and the support of 47 state attorneys general. I can’t imagine why my Republican colleagues would oppose such a worthy piece of legislation.
By joining Democrats to pass this legislation, Republicans can help us send a clear message that this country does not tolerate domestic violence of any kind.
If the Senate does not complete work on this critical legislation before we recess for the state work period, we will continue efforts to pass this measure after the break.
But the Violence Against Women Act isn’t the only pressing matter the Senate has to complete next work period.
We must begin work on a number of appropriations bills, consider additional judicial nominations, advance a cybersecurity bill and take up legislation to cut taxes for small businesses that expand and hire.
And we must address a looming crisis for millions of students in America: the July 1 deadline for interest rates to double on federal student loans.
With middle-class families struggling and fewer students able to afford the rising cost of higher education, we cannot afford to put college out of reach for more promising young people.
Doubling interest rates from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent – effectively socking 7.4 million students with $1,000-a-year in student loan costs – would do just that.
Today Americans have more student loan debt than credit card debt. The average graduate owes close to $25,000.
Getting a college education shouldn’t burden young people with unsustainable debt.
Unfortunately, many of my Republican colleagues have signaled they would rather cut taxes for the richest of the rich than invest in the next generation of American workers.
But the business community agrees making college affordable is key to keeping America competitive in a global economy. An investment in education is an investment in our economy.
I hope Republicans in the Senate will hear this message, and join Democrats to make that smart investment, and protect nearly 8 million students in this country when we take up this legislation next work period.