March 1, 2010
Washington, DC— Nevada Senator Harry Reid delivered the following remarks this afternoon on the floor of the U.S. Senate before requesting unanimous consent on short-term extensions for unemployment insurance and COBRA benefits. That request was blocked by Senate Republicans for the tenth time in the last week. Below are Senator Reid’s remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Every night, too many out-of-work Nevadans – people who want to work, who need to support their family, but who can’t find a job – go to bed with at least the comfort of having unemployment insurance and health benefits.
“But last night, more than a million of them who went to sleep relying on those benefits woke up without the confidence they will be there.
“Early this morning – when they would rather be spending their mornings at a full-time job – mothers and fathers in every state woke up to line up at the unemployment office. They’re worried about how they will put food on the table and pay the bills.
“For too many Americans, those benefits were set to expire last night. So nine times last week, Democrats asked to extend their unemployment benefits for a short time while we work on a longer extension. And nine times, Republicans said ‘no.’
“But they didn’t just say ‘no’ to us. They said ‘no’ to the families in their own states, and in all our states, who count on us to act when we need action – who count on us to respond in the event of an emergency.
“They are standing in between these families and the help they need while those benefits expired. That might work under the Senate’s rules, but it doesn’t work for working families.
“The need to buy groceries doesn’t expire. The need to heat your homes and put gas in your car doesn’t expire. The need to take your medicine, or support an aging parent, or take care of your children doesn’t expire.
“Those opposed to helping our fellow citizens at their time of greatest need want to talk about process.
“But if you can’t afford to feed your children, you don’t care about process one bit.
“We talk often about the cost of inaction. It’s the reason we insist on creating jobs, on making health care more affordable and on strengthening our national security.
“When we talk about the cost of inaction, it’s more than just rhetoric. It comes with dire consequences.
“The Americans who woke up this morning without the benefits they need now know that better than anyone. So do the 2,000 federal transportation workers who were furloughed without pay today. And the workers, commuters and communities who depend on the highway projects that have been put on hold.
“Robbing our citizens is wrong. It’s not too late to right that wrong, and I hope Republicans will think about their constituents standing in the unemployment line right now – and I hope they reconsider.”