Reid Remarks On Senate Republicans Ongoing Defense Of The Koch Brothers

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“We are here in the Senate for one reason: to give Americans a fair shot at providing for their families and having their voices heard. But Republicans seem more willing to identify themselves by their billionaire sponsors.” 

“If Charles and David Koch have helped members get a seat here in this chamber, they should not be ashamed to defend the Kochs’ power. If the Koch brothers have bank-rolled efforts to keep Senators in their seats, those Members should publicly acknowledge their providers.”

“ As for the Democrats here in the Senate, we will continue to defend American families from these oil baron bullies who want nothing more than to enrich themselves.” 

Washington, D.C. Nevada Senator Harry Reid spoke on the Senate floor calling on Senate Republicans to come to the floor and let constituents know if they stand in support of a fair shot for all Americans or if they stand with the Koch brothers and their agenda to buy America. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:

Many NASCAR fans can easily find their favorite drivers by simply spotting the corporate emblems on the hood of the car. Though our clothing doesn’t bear any commercial logos, many Republican Senators these days might as well wear Koch Industries insignias. But as members of the United States Senate, there should never be any doubt as to our sponsors – the American people. We are here in the Senate for one reason: to give Americans a fair shot at providing for their families and having their voices heard. But Republicans seem more willing to identify themselves by their billionaire sponsors. While they don’t wear Koch Industries ties and jackets, they display their sponsors proudly through their actions here in the United States Senate. So it comes as no surprise that Senators have stood here on the Senate floor and voiced their support for Charles and David Koch. Senate Republicans depend on the Koch brothers to make their job easier. I appreciate the forthrightness of those who have expressed their support for the Koch brothers.

The Chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee came to this very floor praising the richest brothers in the world. If Charles and David Koch have helped members get a seat here in this chamber, they should not be ashamed to defend the Kochs’ power. If the Koch brothers have bank-rolled efforts to keep Senators in their seats, those Members should publicly acknowledge their providers. If my Republican colleagues find my criticism of the Kochs’ shadowy influence unjust, they should take their case to the American people. Senate Republicans should come to the Senate floor and take up the cause of the persecuted multi-billionaires. But Senate Republicans shouldn’t expect Americans to be easily fooled into ignoring the fact that the Koch brothers are trying to sweep middle-class families under the rug. Regardless of the words Charles Koch espoused in his Wall Street Journal op-ed last week he and his brother don’t have the interests of average Americans in mind. They have in mind increasing their wealth and hiding their efforts behind words like dignity, respect, equality and freedom. ‘Dignity’? What about the dignity of struggling, long-term unemployed families?

The Koch brothers continue closing plants and laying-off employees in Alaska, Arkansas and North Carolina devastating the economies in those communities. Americans need a fair shot at getting back on their feet and finding work but Koch-backed groups are actively opposing the extension of benefits for the long-term unemployed. What about the dignity of the single-mother from Las Vegas, Christina, who is stuck living in her elderly grandmother’s living room, because she and her young son were evicted when Christina’s benefits were cut off? Perhaps Charles and David Koch should spend their nights sharing one air mattress, like Christina and her son, and see what dignity there is in that. The Koch brothers want Americans to be dignified as they lose their homes, cars, and security. The Koch brothers hide behind words like ‘respect.’ What about treating the American voter with respect? Instead, the Koch brothers’ have dumped hundreds of millions of dollars into dishonest ads about health care reform, trying to fool American families into thinking affordable health care is bad for them. If the Affordable Care Act is so awful, why did Koch Industries use it to their advantage?

Koch Industries applied for, and participated in, a temporary program called the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program, which is part of the Affordable Care Act. This program helped the company pay health insurance costs for its retirees who are not covered by Medicare. Or in other words, the government helped subsidize health care which Koch Industries promised to its retiring employees. So it’s okay for Koch Industries to save money through Obamacare, but if an American family wants a fair shot at better health coverage they risk being labeled as ‘collectivists’? Collectivists – is this is new right wing buzz word for communists? That doesn’t sound like respect to me. The Koch’s throw out phrases like ‘equality under the law’? What about equality for hard-working American women? Yet, the Republicans in Congress who carry water for the Koch’s are actively campaigning against legislation that will ensure women are paid equally with their male counterparts. One of the Kochs’ organizations, ironically-named the Independent Women’s Forum, is actually making the argument that the disparity between men and women’s salaries is a myth. But this tactic shouldn’t surprise anyone, given Republicans’ utter disregard for women that is on display here in Washington.

Take for example the comments made yesterday by former Director of the CIA Michael Hayden. In responding to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s attempts to shed light on the CIA’s questionable interrogation methods, General Hayden condescendingly accused Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein of being too emotional. Does that sound like a man that respects women? Do the Republicans sound like a party that treats women equally? So much for equality under the law.

Finally, the Koch brothers claim that they are fighting to restore a free society. Free in what way? They have single-handedly turned the American electoral process into a pay-to-play scheme. The Koch brothers’ end game is to elect officials who will help them overhaul our system of government and replace it with something to their liking. So I again extend the invitation to my colleagues, if you bear the logo of the Koch brothers, come down to the Senate floor and announce your affiliation. If their agenda is your agenda, come and tell your constituents so. Let this nation know where you stand. As for the Democrats here in the Senate, we will continue to defend American families from these oil baron bullies who want nothing more than to enrich themselves.  We will continue to oppose their efforts to buy our democracy, because we represent America – not just rich Americans.

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