“The legislation before us today is an opportunity for Senators to intelligently reconsider energy efficiency.”
“Democrats have acted in good faith, and we’ve bent over backwards to make this bill work. But it seems that our efforts are never enough. Each concession brings new demands.”
“This useless, mind-boggling obstruction is what continually grinds the wheels of the Senate to a halt. So to my friends who want to know how we can make things better here in the Senate, I say: put an end to obstruction for obstruction’s sake.”
Washington, DC – Nevada Senator Harry Reid spoke on the Senate floor regarding the importance of passing good, common-sense legislation to give working American families a fair shot at affordable energy. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
Henry Ford once said that: “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” Those are wise words from a man who knew a thing or two about overcoming logjams. The legislation before us today is an opportunity for Senators to intelligently reconsider energy efficiency. And the consequences of this opportunity loom very large for the Senate. Shaheen-Portman is a good bill. It was a good bill last year when it was blocked by Republicans, and it’s even better now. This legislation will give our country more energy independence and protect our environment. The Shaheen-Portman bill also gives working Americans a fair shot at better providing for their families, through increased savings on their energy bills. It also creates 200,000 American jobs.
Senators Shaheen and Portman worked hard with Democrats and Republicans since this bill was introduced 3 years ago to make this legislation into the effective, bipartisan bill it is today. No single bill will solve all of our energy problems, but this is a good first step. The business community agrees. This bill is supported by the Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers and the Business Roundtable. The Shaheen-Portman legislation is an opportunity for this country to address our energy needs and how they are affecting the environment. But the implications of this legislation extend beyond energy efficiency – the integrity of the United States Senate is at stake. The Shaheen-Portman bill is a chance for a fresh start for the Senate. We had been making some limited progress this year in moving legislation, starting with the Murray-Ryan budget deal. Then we worked together, Democrats and Republicans, to pass a child care development block grant, a flood insurance bill, and an extension of unemployment benefits. But as we considered legislation to help working American families, like equal pay and a minimum wage increase, somewhere Republicans got off track.
So here we are, once again, confronted with the possibility that a good, bipartisan bill may fail –and for what? Democrats have acted in good faith, and we’ve bent over backwards to make this bill work. But it seems that our efforts are never enough. Each concession brings new demands. The Republicans working with Senators Shaheen and Portman asked for changes to this bill, and 10 bipartisan amendments are now included. Republicans asked for a Sense of the Senate resolution on Keystone, and we agreed. Republicans changed their minds and requested a vote on stand-alone Keystone legislation, and we agreed to that, too. If Republicans stop their filibuster of this bill and allow it to proceed, the Senate will vote on Keystone pipeline legislation – they know that.
They’ve held this bill hostage as demand after demand has been met, but even now, they’re still seeking a ransom. So why are we here? Why is this bill at risk? I’ve spoken with some of my Republican colleagues who come to me asking, “Harry, how can we get the Senate back on track?” I appreciate their sincerity in trying to find a solution, but the answer is right under their nose. I say to them, look at what is happening right now. Look at how Republican obstruction is bringing the Senate to its knees again, and again and again – now even on this bill. This bill is being filibustered by some of its very own Republican co-sponsors. This useless, mind-boggling obstruction is what continually grinds the wheels of the Senate to a halt. So to my friends who want to know how we can make things better here in the Senate, I say: put an end to obstruction for obstruction’s sake. Stop filibustering this good bill. We made an agreement on Keystone, and Democrats stand willing to honor our commitment. But we need Republicans to honor theirs. Let’s use this second opportunity at passing Shaheen-Portman to get the Senate working effectively. And give working American families a fair shot at affordable energy.