May 24, 2012
Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid spoke on the Senate floor today regarding the bipartisan efforts to pass the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act and a temporary renewal of the flood insurance program. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
I was pleased yesterday to reach an agreement with the Republican Leader to move forward with passage of the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act.
This legislation will ease shortages of life-saving medicines by establishing effective lines of communication between drug makers and the FDA.
And it will ensure the FDA has the resources to approve new drugs and medical devices quickly and efficiently.
We will consider a reasonable number of relevant amendments from both sides. And I am optimistic that this crucial legislation will be passed on a strong, bipartisan vote.
This week has been a productive one. Democrats weren’t forced to break even one Republican filibuster.
I hope this trend continues, and we see a return to the time when reasonable lawmakers from each party could work together to advance important legislation.
I am also hopeful this week the Senate will be able to find a path ahead to temporarily renew the flood insurance program.
I am committed to bringing a long-term solution with limited amendment votes to the floor next work period. The 6 million Americans affected by this program deserve the certainty long-term legislation will provide.
The collaborative work on this measure and on the FDA bill renew my hope that Congress will also reach a bipartisan agreement to prevent student loan interest rates from doubling for 7 million young men and women.
We will vote this afternoon on two proposals to freeze students’ interest rates at their current levels.
The Republican proposal is paid for by stripping Americans of life-saving preventive healthcare.
The Democratic proposal is paid for by closing a loophole that allows wealthy Americans to dodge their taxes.
It’s easy to see these two proposals were not created equal.
I hope a few reasonable Republicans will join Democrats in voting for a student loan bill that doesn’t put Americans’ health at risk. But it seems possible Republicans will block our reasonable proposal for a second time.
If that’s the case, American students should know Democrats will not relent until Congress has taken action against the skyrocketing price of higher education.
I hope to resolve that issue and many others next work period, when the Senate once again faces a hefty list of must-do tasks.
In addition to a farm bill, flood insurance legislation, small business tax relief and a cyber security measure, the Senate will vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act.
Last Congress, we passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. It was the single greatest legislative step to ensure women have every chance to be full, equal participants in the workforce since the Equal Pay Act of 1963.
But while the wage gap has narrowed in the five decades since Congress declared women entitled to equal pay for equal work, gender discrimination remains a serious problem in the workplace.
Although women make up nearly half of today’s workforce, they still earn only 77 cents on the dollar compared to their male colleagues.
And with an increasing number of women heading American households, this is a problem that affects children and families across the country.
The Paycheck Fairness Act is a logical extension of protections under the Equal Pay Act. It will help close the pay gap by empowering women to negotiate for equal pay and creating strong incentives for employers to obey the laws already in place.
Republicans deny they’re waging a war on women, yet they’ve launched a series of attacks on women’s access to health care and contraception this year.
Now they have an opportunity to back up their excuses with action.
I hope they take that opportunity, and join Democrats as we send a clear message that America values the incredible contributions women make every day.