July 10, 2013
“My thanks go out to the dedicated first responders who acted quickly to protect lives and assist in the evacuation. And my heart is with all the brave firefighters, who have been working around the clock to contain the blaze and protect their communities.”
Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid spoke on the Senate floor today regarding the wildfires raging in northern and southern Nevada, and on Democrats’ plan to keep student loan rates low for an additional year. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
I have been closely following the news of devastating wildfires raging in both northern and southern Nevada this week. My thoughts are with those who have been evacuated from their homes in southern Nevada’s Mount Charleston area, where the Carpenter I fire has burned more than 30 square miles of forest and desert. My thanks go out to the dedicated first responders who acted quickly to protect lives and assist in the evacuation. And my heart is with all the brave firefighters, who have been working around the clock to contain the blaze and protect their communities.
It’s impossible to say how many lives and homes they have saved. Unfortunately strong winds, dry conditions and summer heat are working against firefighters on Mount Charleston. And progress made to contain the blaze on Monday was erased on Tuesday, as the fire jumped a road and spread to new forest and desert land.
We thought residents would be able to return to their homes in Kyle Canyon yesterday, but unfortunately the fire has spread. I hope they’ll be able to return to their homes soon. I commend the businesses that have offered free lodging to Nevadans displaced by this terrible fire.
The smoke can be seen from every part of the Las Vegas Valley. And I’ve heard from people in Nevada who have seen ash falling from the sky like snow.
I commend the Bureau of Land Management, the Forest Service and all of the other federal and state agencies that have assisted firefighters in containing the blaze and helped residents evacuate.
The Bison Fire burning south of Reno is the largest blaze ever recorded in Western Nevada. That fire was sparked by a lightning bolt on the Fourth of July, and now exceeds 40 square miles. Residents of the Pipeline Canyon area have been urged to evacuate.
I will continue to monitor the progress of these disasters in both southern and northern Nevada. I will reach out to Governor Sandoval to offer any assistance I can. And I will ensure that every federal resource be made available to support local officials and fire crews.
My best wishes go out to every American affected by the wildfires raging across the west. There are currently more than 20 active fires burning in 11 states, including Nevada neighbors California, Arizona, Idaho and Utah. I hope for the safety of thousands of firefighters working tirelessly to save lives and contain these fires.
Today the Senate will vote on whether to begin to debate on Democrats’ plan to keep student loan rates low for an additional year.
Last month, Republican obstruction forced interest rates to double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent for 7 million college students. If Congress fails to roll back this increase, those students will each pile on an additional $1,000 in debt to get a college education. These higher rates will be particularly harmful to low- and middle-income students who rely most on federal loans.
But students shouldn’t suffer while we attempt compromise. That’s why Democrats have proposed a one-year extension of last year’s 3.4 percent rate. This extension will allow us to craft a long-term solution to mounting college debt without harming students in the short term.