Reid Remarks On The Danger of Defaulting On The Nation’s Bills

“I commend the sponsors of the Senate bill to restore veteran pensions – Senators Pryor, Shaheen, Hagan and Begich, among others – for forcing Republicans in the House and the Senate to take this issue seriously.”

“I commend Speaker Boehner for doing the right thing… I am pleased that he has come to the realization that the full faith and credit of the United States is not a hostage to be held for political gain.”

 “When Republicans forced us to the brink of default two years ago it cost our economy $150 billion in productivity and 750,000 jobs… I am hopeful that Senate Republicans won’t force the economy to wait weeks or even days for a resolution, but will instead allow us to vote on this issue today. I believe many of my Republican colleagues would like to be reasonable if they weren’t so beholden to their Tea Party overlords.”

Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid spoke on the Senate floor today regarding a bill to restore veterans’ pensions and on the economic danger of defaulting on the nation’s debt and. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:

Today the Senate will act on two pieces of vital legislation, including a measure to restore earned retirement pay to our nation’s heroes: retirees of the United States Armed Forces. Dozens of major veterans’ organization have written in support of this legislation, which was passed by the House of Representatives yesterday.

I commend the sponsors of the Senate bill to restore veteran pensions – Senators Pryor, Shaheen, Hagan and Begich, among others – for forcing Republicans in the House and the Senate to take this issue seriously. Without their leadership on this matter, we would never have reached a compromise that protects our nation’s veterans, and reached it so quickly. The Senate’s unanimous vote on Monday to move forward with a bill to restore veteran pensions forced the House to act fast and secured a resolution that protects veterans.

It is encouraging that some of my Republicans colleagues seem to be regaining their grip on sanity this week. Republicans have shown a willingness to compromise to restore veterans’ hard-earned pensions. A few reasonable House Republicans were willing to join Democrats to avert a catastrophic default on this nation’s obligations – a default that would have thrown our economy into a tailspin and damaged this nation’s standing in the world.

 I commend Speaker Boehner for doing the right thing. I’ve often said he has, if not the most difficult, certainly one of the most difficult jobs in Washington. I am pleased that he has come to the realization that the full faith and credit of the United States is not a hostage to be held for political gain. Unfortunately, Republicans on this side of the Capitol are forcing us to jump through procedural hoops to alleviate the threat of default.

 Every reputable economist acknowledges that defaulting on our bills would devastate the economy and erase the past five years of recovery. According to a report by the nonpartisan Peterson Institute for International Economics, when Republicans forced us to the brink of default two years ago it cost our economy $150 billion in productivity and 750,000 jobs. And financial industry leaders have warned Congress again and again that even the threat of default ripples quickly through the economy.

 So it’s too bad that a few Republicans would threaten a filibuster of this crucial legislation. However, I am hopeful that Senate Republicans won’t force the economy to wait weeks or even days for a resolution, but will instead allow us to vote on this issue today. I believe many of my Republican colleagues would like to be reasonable if they weren’t so beholden to their Tea Party overlords.

 And I am hopeful that a more bipartisan, common-sense approach – one that favors collaboration over hostage taking – will prevail this year. Congress should be striding from accomplishment to accomplishment, not staggering from crisis to crisis. If we spent more time working together and less time running out the clock on procedural hurdles and Republican filibusters we might actually get things done around here. I hope we can continue to cooperate and collaborate this year, and to deliver results for Americans looking for action instead of gridlock.

 ###