“We offered Republicans a legitimate compromises in the hopes they would join us at the negotiating table. But it’s clear they don’t want to stay in D.C. They want to rush to Cleveland and waive the flag for Donald Trump. That’s why they are imposing imaginary deadlines on Zika legislation.”
“Republicans say there’s no more time to work on Zika? Give us all a break. There’s plenty of time – seven weeks to be exact. I guess two months of vacation are more important to Republicans than protecting pregnant women and their babies from the terrible birth defects caused by Zika.”
“It is obvious Republicans are choosing Trump and some time off over protecting American women from Zika. That is a revolting set of priorities and every Republican in this building and the office buildings surrounding this Capitol should be ashamed.”
Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid spoke on the Senator floor today about Democrats repeated attempts to get Republicans to act responsibly to address the Zika crisis. Below are his remarks:
Over the last week, Democrats have exhausted every avenue in trying to work with Republicans on a Zika funding measure. Democrats had the audacity to expect the Republican leader to live up to his promise in April of bipartisan work on Zika. This is what he said in April:
“We all are very much aware that this is a serious crisis. We’ll be working with the administration, with the Democrats.”
But his actions – especially over the last couple weeks – clearly illustrate that he was never really interested in a bipartisan solution.
For example, president offered a meeting to get Senator McConnell, Speaker Ryan, Secretary Burwell and Director of the OMB, Shaun Donovan, to work on the Zika crisis. The speaker and the Republican leader refused that meeting.
We offered to re-introduce the Senate’s bipartisan Zika compromise that we sent to the House, we would do it again as a free-standing bill. That bill had 89 votes, 89 Senators voted for that.
And we offered Republicans a legitimate compromises in the hopes they would join us at the negotiating table. But it’s clear they don’t want to stay in D.C. They want to rush to Cleveland and waive the flag for Donald Trump. That’s why they are imposing imaginary deadlines on Zika legislation.
That’s why the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday:
“Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Tuesday rejected that offer, saying the time for such negotiations had passed.”
The Republican leader is saying there’s no more time to work on Zika. I suggest that I disagree with that. Starting this Friday, July 15, we are going to begin the longest recess in the Senate in 60 years. And 60 years ago there was not much going on in this country, relatively speaking. We had far fewer people – 100 million less people. We had a less complicated government in many ways. So there was an opportunity at that time to take a little time off. But 60 years later there is no time to do that.
Republicans say there’s no more time to work on Zika? Give us all a break. There’s plenty of time – seven weeks to be exact. I guess two months of vacation are more important to Republicans than protecting pregnant women and their babies from the terrible birth defects caused by Zika.
There is no reason we can’t stay here and work on protecting women and their babies. But Republicans are in such a hurry to coronate Trump in Cleveland, they’re willing to sacrifice the health of their constituents.
The Republican leader announced yesterday that he will be speaking at the Republican convention next week. I guess the Republican leader is rushing for the exit without funding Zika so he’ll have time to prepare his speech, to polish it, because I’m sure it will help Donald Trump a lot in his election efforts.
The Republican leader cares more about his time off and cheering Donald Trump than protecting American women and their babies from this horrible, horrible virus. Let’s be clear: It is obvious Republicans are choosing Trump and some time off over protecting American women from Zika. That is a revolting set of priorities and every Republican in this building and the office buildings surrounding this Capitol should be ashamed.
Republicans should not fool themselves. Every Republican in Congress should know that if they walk away without funding Zika, the repercussions will be severe. I can’t recall ever – having been around here a long time – watching a party so willingly move to its own destruction, but that is what Republicans seem intent on doing.
Maybe they don’t like being in the majority. It’s hard being in the majority. We are trying to save Republicans from themselves, but they won’t let us.
We have pursued every avenue possible to find a bipartisan Zika bill that can pass both Houses and be signed by the president. It shouldn’t be hard. Women and babies across America are counting on Republicans to come to their senses and pass a bipartisan bill before we leave here on a two-month vacation.
But if Republicans refuse and they can’t see the writing on the wall, we can’t make them see the writing on the wall. It’s up to them to open their eyes and read the writing on the wall.
Look at the time we could do something on Zika – look at the time. We come back on September 6 – July is gone, August is gone, part of September is gone. We have a lot of time to be here to do some work.
I say to my Republican colleagues: sit down with us. We’ve offered compromise after compromise. I can’t understand why they don’t want Planned Parenthood to take care of these women. If there is ever a time we want women to have birth control, how about now?
My Republican friend says “I don’t understand why they’re concerned about Planned Parenthood not being able to take care of these women. I don’t understand why they’re concerned about changing the environmental laws dealing with the Clean Water Act.”
I don’t understand why their legislation takes $500 million from veterans that we were going to use to process claims. For them to say we’re increasing veterans’ money, it’s just not true. Everyone knows $543 million they have here is an offset from Obamacare. I could raise a point of order right now. It would fall automatically. Everyone knows that.
Taking money from Ebola – not much left there and Ebola is still a crisis. We know that. Why in the world, if they are so interested in doing something about this, would they stick a provision in their legislation that would reinstate the ability to fly the confederate flag at military installations? How’s that for a compromise?