Reid Remarks On Ukraine Aid Bill And The Anniversary Of The Affordable Care Act

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“As we begin debate on this aid and sanctions package, I also hope that Republicans who stopped action on this legislation prior to the break have considered how their obstruction affects United States’ national security.”

“In light of such clear-cut Russian aggression against Ukraine, it’s difficult to believe Republicans blocked this package at all. But it’s almost unimaginable why they blocked it – to protect the anonymity of their own big-money donors. “

“Democrats fought hard four years ago to pass this landmark expansion of quality, affordable health care. And we will fight just as hard to make this law work for every American family.”

 

Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid spoke on the Senate floor today regarding the importance of bipartisan legislation to aid Ukraine and place sanctions against Russia and to highlight positive effects of the Affordable Care Act. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:

The first item the Senate must consider in this new work period is a bipartisan package of aid to Ukraine and sanctions against Russia for their untoward actions against their neighbor. As we prepare to debate this measure, I would remind all Senators that it is customary to show respect for the President and his office whenever he travels abroad. That has been the custom in the United States Senate regardless of who is in office.

As we begin debate on this aid and sanctions package, I also hope that Republicans who stopped action on this legislation prior to the break have considered how their obstruction affects United States’ national security as well as the people of Ukraine. Since a few Republicans blocked these important sanctions last work period, Russian lawmakers voted to annex Crimea and Russian forces have taken over Ukrainian military bases. It’s impossible to know whether events would have unfolded differently if the United States had responded to Russian aggression with a strong, unified voice. When a few extremist Republicans blocked action on this robust bill reported with strong, bipartisan support by the Foreign Relations Committee, it sent a dangerous message to Russian leaders.

I am pleased that, in the face of Republicans obstruction, President Obama moved forward with additional sanctions. The President is working closely with our European allies to impose the most effective sanctions possible.

In light of such clear-cut Russian aggression against Ukraine, it’s difficult to believe Republicans blocked this package at all. But it’s almost unimaginable why they blocked it – to protect the anonymity of their own big-money donors. A few radical Republicans delayed this aid package by an entire week in order to protect the Koch brothers and billionaires like them. It’s hard to believe. But that’s the truth.

Republicans objected to moving forward with this aid package in order to protect the ability of the Koch brothers and other GOP donors to hide behind shadowy front groups – groups that spend millions on misleading, political attack ads. Republicans objected to moving forward with this aid package unless Democrats agreed to allow the Kochs and billionaires like them to continue to anonymously spend millions trying to buy America’s democracy. It’s hard to believe. But that’s the truth.

I applaud the Ranking Member of the Foreign Relations Committee as well as the senior Senator from Arizona for their impassioned defense of this bill prior to the break. They joined Democrats in defending bipartisan sanctions and the role of the International Monetary Fund in stabilizing Ukraine’s economy and keeping Ukraine free. The measure before this body includes vital loan guarantees, sanctions, IMF funding and security assistance.

And I am grateful to have the support of these reasonable Republicans as we move this aid package forward this evening. I am confident this legislation will receive the strong, bipartisan support that it deserves.

On another topic, I get thousands of letters and calls from constituents each month. Some – like the pleas to extend unemployment insurance or to raise minimum-wage workers out of poverty – are heartbreaking. But many more are messages of hope.

Four years ago yesterday, President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, making quality healthcare available to millions of Americans for the first time in years. Over the last four years, I have gotten countless letters and calls from families who have benefited from this important law.

I’ve heard from families whose college-age children have stayed on their health insurance plans and from seniors who have saved hundreds of dollars on their prescriptions. I’ve heard from entrepreneurs who could finally quit their dead-end jobs and strike out on their own without the fear of losing their insurance. I’ve heard from women benefiting from free preventive care and from people with preexisting conditions, who have signed up for health insurance for the first time in years. And I’ve heard from Nevadans who are saving thousands of dollars each year on premiums while getting better care than ever before.

One Nevada man, a lifelong Republican, called recently to say he and his son signed up for affordable insurance and saw the doctor for the first time in years. They had been without health insurance for years because of preexisting conditions. But now that his insurance company can no longer discriminate against him or his son, they are getting the life-saving care they need and deserve. Across the country, families like this one have been freed from the fear of going bankrupt or reaching an arbitrary lifetime cap if they get sick.

The Affordable Care Act put patients in charge of their own healthcare decisions. There are many on the other side of the aisle who don’t want this law to work. They are spending millions on disingenuous ads distorting the truth about the Affordable Care Act and how it is benefiting tens of millions of Americans. But Democrats fought hard four years ago to pass this landmark expansion of quality, affordable health care. And we will fight just as hard to make this law work for every American family.

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