May 7, 2013
“Senate Democrats know finding common ground won’t be easy. But we’re not afraid of a little hard work. We’re not afraid of compromise. And we’re not afraid to go to conference.”
“Republicans refuse to go to conference unless Democrats give in to positions that were soundly rejected by the American people last November.”
“In other words, Republicans refuse to play the game unless we let them win. And, like schoolyard bullies, if Republicans can’t win, they will take the ball and go home.”
Washington, DC– Nevada Senator Harry Reid spoke on the Senate floor today regarding Republican objections to a budget conference with the House of Representatives. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
This afternoon the Senate will begin work on the bipartisan Water Resources Development Act, which will provide critical flood protection to communities across the country. This legislation has two able managers in Chairman Boxer and Ranking Member Vitter. Senators Boxer and Vitter each represent their caucuses well, and I give them free rein to complete this bill.
The Water Resources measure will create jobs and protect the economy by promoting investments in the nation’s critical water infrastructure. And it includes important reforms to the Corps of Engineers’ project approval process, which will accelerate job-creating projects. I thank Senators Boxer and Vitter for their diligent work on this important issue.
I’m sure my colleagues are familiar with the old adage: “Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it.”
For two years, my Republican colleagues wished for a return to regular order. Republicans asked for amendment votes. Republicans asked for consideration of bills passed out of committee. Republicans asked – and asked, and then asked again – for the Senate to pass a budget resolution, even though we already had a budget law signed by President Obama.
Well, they got what they wished for. That dog finally caught the car.
But it turns out Republicans were more interested in scoring political points by calling for regular order than in actually operating under regular order. Although the Senate passed a budget resolution under regular order after scores of amendment votes, Republicans now refuse to allow us to go to conference with our colleagues in the House of Representatives.
I ask again, why are my Republican colleagues so afraid?
Senate Democrats know finding common ground won’t be easy. But we’re not afraid of a little hard work. We’re not afraid of compromise. And we’re not afraid to go to conference.
Democrats and Republicans will never find common ground if we never get to the negotiating table. So, why don’t my Republican colleagues want to go to conference?
Last night the Junior Senator from Texas said Republicans would agree to go to conference only if Democrats first give in to all their demands – demands for more job-killing budget cuts, demands that no millionaire ever be asked to contribute to deficit reduction, demands that the full faith and credit of the United States be used as a bargaining pawn.
Republicans refuse to go to conference unless Democrats give in to positions that were soundly rejected by the American people last November. In other words, Republicans refuse to play the game unless we let them win. And, like schoolyard bullies, if Republicans can’t win, they will take the ball and go home. But this latest stunt is a non-starter.
So what is the real reason Republicans are shying away from a conference? House Republicans are afraid of a backlash from the radical Tea Party if they even discuss a compromise with Democrats. But partisan politics is no reason to shy away from bipartisan negotiations.
Republicans got what they asked for. Now it’s time to embrace regular order. It’s time to get away from the last-minute fixes and short-term solutions. And it’s time to engage in meaningful negotiations and a responsible budget process.