May 14, 2013
“It’s obvious [Republicans] are delaying [the budget] for one nakedly partisan reason: they hope to put off a compromise long enough to create another manufactured crisis, as the nation once again approaches the debt limit.”
“Congress won’t set sound fiscal policy during last-minute negotiations…. And it won’t set sound fiscal policy without sitting down at the negotiating table to find common ground between Republican priorities and Democratic priorities.”
Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid spoke on the Senate floor today regarding Republican objections to going to conference on the budget. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
On Thursday Speaker Boehner said a remarkable thing: “We can’t cut our way to prosperity.” It was good to hear him speaking candidly for once. That’s what Democrats have been saying for years.
It will take more than meat-ax budget cuts to keep our economy on the path to a full recovery. To protect economic growth, it will take a balanced approach – one that couples smart spending cuts with investments in our future and new revenue from closing wasteful loopholes.
Nothing could be further from that balanced policy than the so-called sequester. As long as the sequester’s harmful, across-the-board cuts remain in effect, our economy will be in jeopardy. And as long as Republicans refuse to go to conference on the budget and work out our differences, the sequester will remain in effect.
It’s been 52 days since the United States Senate passed a budget that encourages economic expansion by investing in what makes America strong while still cutting the deficit. After years of calling for regular order – after years of demanding that the Senate pass a budget – I expected Republicans to embrace this process. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Republicans have objected to a conference a half dozen times – and counting.
It’s obvious they are delaying for one nakedly partisan reason: they hope to put off a compromise long enough to create another manufactured crisis, as the nation once again approaches the debt limit.
An elephant never forgets. But Republicans have a short memory. Don’t they remember the political pain they inflicted upon themselves over the last two years – in part by driving the country from one manufactured crisis to the next?
It’s astonishing that Republicans would once again hold the full faith and credit of the United States government hostage, if only because it’s so bad for their political brand. It’s also bad for the country. The last time Republicans drove us to the brink of default it cost the United States its pristine credit rating and cost the economy billions of dollars. I hope my Republican colleagues will not take their partisan ploy so far this year.
It’s time to embrace regular order. It’s time to get away from the last-minute negotiations and short-term fixes. It’s time to engage in a responsible budget process. That budget process is the only way to work through our differences without bringing the country to the verge of another artificial crisis.
Americans are sick of bitter battles over whether the federal government should pay the bill for things it’s already purchased on credit. Americans know, as Democrats do, that Congress won’t set sound fiscal policy during last-minute negotiations. Congress won’t set sound fiscal policy through extortion or hostage taking. It won’t set sound fiscal policy without compromise. And it won’t set sound fiscal policy without sitting down at the negotiating table to find common ground between Republican priorities and Democratic priorities.
Passing a budget clarified each side’s values. That is a good first step toward compromise. The next step is to name conferees and work toward a reasonable settlement. Right now, Republicans are the only thing standing in the way of progress.
If my Republican colleagues are serious about reducing the deficit and charting a course for economic growth, they should stop waiting around for another crisis-induced deadline and start working with Democrats today.