May 14, 2012
Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid spoke on the Senate floor today regarding the Republican filibuster of reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
There was a time when legislation that would reduce the deficit and support hundreds of thousands of jobs would fly through the Senate with bipartisan support.
Not so today.
Instead a worthy measure that would support almost 300,000 American jobs – the Export-Import Bank – may stall in the Senate this evening.
The holdup: more Republican obstruction.
Tonight the Senate will vote on whether to end a filibuster of reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank.
The Bank helps American companies grow and sell their products overseas.
Last year, Export-Import Bank financing helped 3,600 private companies add almost 300,000 jobs in more than 2,000 American communities.
The last time the Senate considered Export-Import Bank legislation, it was offered by a Republican Senator and passed by unanimous consent.
So it’s unfortunate that I had to file cloture on this bill.
We shouldn’t have to argue over bipartisan proposals like this one. And I remain hopeful we can still find a way to work together on it.
The Export-Import Bank has the support of two groups that rarely see eye to eye – labor unions and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
The National Association of Manufacturers, the largest manufacturing association in the United States representing manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states, has urged the Senate to pass it.
It has Republican co-sponsors.
And it passed the House – without amendment – on a 330-93 vote last week.
This is exactly the kind of smart investment Congress must make to keep the economy on the road to recovery.
And it’s the kind of consensus proposal that shouldn’t require Democrats to break a filibuster.
When Senate Democrats brought reauthorization of the Bank to the floor in March, we assumed it would pass on a strong, bipartisan vote.
Yet Senate Republicans voted nearly unanimously against it in March – despite their public confessions of support for it. And they are threatening to do the same today.
They are once again forcing us to run out the clock on this measure, which expires at the end of the month.
Frankly, the behavior of my Republican colleagues over the last week has been baffling.
They say they support Democratic efforts to keep interest rates on federal loans from doubling for 7 million college students.
And then they vote down the proposal.
They say they support the Export-Import Bank.
But they’ve voted the measure down once, and they’re threatening to do it again.
With Republicans willing to use every obstructionist tactic in the book, even on bills they support, it’s a wonder the Senate gets anything done at all.
Further delay could allow the Bank’s lending authority to lapse, putting jobs at risk.
But there is still time for my colleagues on the other side to reverse course. There is still time to work together to pass this measure.
I understand my Republican colleagues want to offer amendments to this bill – including several that would gut the Export-Import Bank, or eliminate it altogether.
Even if those amendments weren’t egregious, changing this legislation now will only waste more time.
The process of reauthorizing the Export-Import bank has taken months already. There is no reason to waste a moment more.
American exporters are counting on us to get something done this week.
So I hope my Republican colleagues will consider the consequences of another filibuster, and join Democrats to reauthorize the Export-Import bank without delay.