“Instead of replacing the pain of the sequester with something smarter and more reasonable, [the Republican] plan would embrace these devastating cuts.”
“Republicans should give Congress true flexibility – flexibility to cut wasteful subsidies, flexibility to close unnecessary tax loopholes and flexibility to ask the richest of the rich to contribute a little more.”
“As usual, Republicans have put the demands of special interests over the needs of middle-class Americans.”
Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid spoke on the Senate floor today regarding across-the-board sequester cuts that will take effect tomorrow. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
Today the Senate says goodbye to a valued and accomplished staff member, Rick DeBobes, who is retiring after ten years as staff director of Chairman Levin’s Senate Armed Services Committee. Rick DeBobes came to the Senate more than two decades ago, after a distinguished, 26-year career as a Judge Advocate in the United States Navy. He has spent his entire Capitol Hill career with the same committee – a rare occurrence in the Senate – working first for Chairman Sam Nunn and then for Chairman Levin.
For the last decade, Rick has led the committee’s oversight of two of our longest-running wars, in Iraq and Afghanistan, working to reward the dedication of military personnel and their families. Under Chairman Levin’s guiding hand, he has also filled the ranks of the Armed Services Committee staff with the next generation of national security professionals.
Rick’s expertise, integrity and commitment to public service will be missed by Republicans and Democrats. And on behalf of the Senate community, I thank him for his service and wish him well in retirement.
Rick’s departure from the Senate Armed Services Committee comes during a trying time for our nation’s military – as deep, across-the-board spending cuts are set to strike. Hundreds of thousands of civilian employees of the Defense Department will be furloughed in coming weeks and months. Families and businesses across this country are also bracing for the pain of deep cuts to programs that keep our food safe, our water clean and our borders secure.
But it’s not too late to avert these damaging cuts – cuts for which the overwhelming majority of Republicans in both houses of Congress voted. Democrats have a balanced proposal to remove the threat of the sequester. Our proposal would reduce the deficit by making smart spending cuts. It would also close wasteful tax loopholes that allow companies that outsource jobs to China or India to claim tax deductions for doing so. Our plan would stop wasteful subsidies to farmer, some of whom don’t even farm anymore. And it would ask the wealthiest among us – those making millions each year – to pay just a little more to help reduce the deficit.
Almost 60 percent of Republicans around the country favor this balanced approach to reduce the deficit with a combination of revenue and smart spending cuts. But because this proposition would ask millionaires, billionaires and wealthy corporations to contribute even a tiny fraction more, Republicans here in Congress won’t support it. Republicans in Congress are going after our proposal because it goes after special interests.
Now, after days of infighting, Senate Republicans have announced their own so-called “plan.” Instead of replacing the pain of the sequester with something smarter and more reasonable, their plan would embrace these devastating cuts, while abandoning any of the responsibility that goes along with them.
Republicans call the plan “flexibility.” But let’s call it what it really is: a punt. As President Obama said Tuesday, it would simply raise the question: “Do I end funding that helps disabled children or poor children? Do I close this Naval Shipyard or that one?”
It is not a solution. And even members of the Senate Republican caucus have questioned the wisdom of this proposal.
Republicans should give Congress true flexibility – flexibility to cut wasteful subsidies, flexibility to close unnecessary tax loopholes and flexibility to ask the richest of the rich to contribute a little more. Instead, they’re completely inflexible – insisting we risk hundreds of thousands of American jobs, as well as programs that strengthen families and small businesses across this nation.
But that should come as no surprise. As usual, Republicans have put the demands of special interests over the needs of middle-class Americans.