December 13, 2011
Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid made the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding Republican opposition to keeping payroll taxes low for middle-class families. Below are his remarks as prepared:
In the last month, Republican leaders have repeated this mantra over and over: we support a payroll tax cut for working families.
We have yet to see the proof.
Senate Republicans have twice voted down their own payroll tax cut proposal. And House Republicans were unable to bring their plan to a vote for weeks.
We understand they're going to have a run at that tonight.
When I served in the House, no one would ever consider pushing something through with a majority of the majority. When I served, the Majority Leader and the Speaker always worked together on a bipartisan basis to get legislation passed.
Now Republicans say they won’t pass anything unless they can do it on their own. That's unfortunate.
I spoke to the Speaker yesterday. This is what I told him: we are not going to finish the work of our country this year unless we work together.
He can't pass anything in the House without Democratic votes, because anything you pass with strictly Republican votes fails over here.
In the Senate, we can't pass anything unless we get Republican votes. It's a fact of life.
And we have issues, we must complete this year. As I explained to the Speaker yesterday, we have to do this together.
So I’m very disappointed in what the Speaker has done to his payroll tax proposal to get Tea Party votes.
Speaker Boehner had to add ideological candy coating to his bill to get rebellious, rank-and-file Republicans on board.
They added a provision to fasttrack a controversial pipeline proposal attractive to the Tea Party because they believe it is opposed by President Obama.
Congressman Jim Jordan said this about the Keystone XL pipeline: "Frankly, the fact that the President doesn't like it makes me like it even more."
But President Obama doesn’t oppose this proposal. That’s not true. He believes it’s an important proposal that deserves proper review.
And, as Secretary of State Clinton said yesterday, if Republicans push him to make an uninformed decision in three months – as this legislation would – he will be forced to deny the permit.
If Republicans push this through, the pipeline is bound and doomed to failure.
That’s why President Obama and Democrats in the Senate have already declared the House legislation dead on arrival. Yet – after weeks of delay – Republicans plan a vote on it tonight.
They are wasting time catering to the Tea Party when they should be working with Democrats on a bipartisan package that can pass both houses.
Democrats have offered solutions – serious, good-faith proposals with bipartisan support.
If Republicans continue to block these reasonable plans to cut taxes for 160 million workers, there will be consequences.
Middle-class Americans will notice when they open their paychecks in January and have less money to spend. And they’ll have Republicans in Congress to blame.
For the third time in two weeks, Senate Republicans have filibustered a qualified nominee.
Last night, they blocked confirmation of Mari Carmen Aponte to serve as ambassador to El Salvador, a job she did well for 15 months. Ms. Aponte finalized an important, international, anti-crime agreement and forged a strong partnership with El Salvodor during her time as ambassador.
Late last week, Republicans blocked the nomination of Richard Cordray to serve as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Mr. Cordray has a record of protecting consumers from predatory lenders.
And two days before that, Republicans blocked the nomination of Caitlin Halligan to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Ms. Halligan is an exceptional legal mind with an impeccable resume.
All three nominees were qualified. All three had bipartisan support. All three were committed, enthusiastic public servants.
Yet Republicans opposed their nominations for one purely partisan reason – to deal a blow to President Obama.
This kind of Republican obstructionism has unfortunately become commonplace. But it also has consequences.
And Republicans aiming to hurt the President have once again harmed our country instead.