Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid spoke on the Senate floor today regarding the tax and budget negotiations. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
Before I came to Congress, I was a lawyer.
I tried lots of cases – including more than 100 jury trials.
But my greatest victories were the cases that never saw the inside of a courtroom.
As the English poet George Herbert said, “A lean compromise is better than a fat lawsuit.”
It’s always better to settle than to fight it out. So I’ve done my fair share of negotiating – both as a lawyer and as a lawmaker.
And I have a bit of negotiating advice for Republican Leaders: you’re doing it wrong.
Generally during a negotiation, each side brings an offer or demand to the table. And then the two sides sit down and find middle ground everyone can live with.
It’s not always easy and it’s rarely ever fun. True compromise means no one gets everything they want.
But unless both sides come to the table with an offer, you can’t even begin the negotiation.
In fact, unless both sides come to the table with an offer, it’s not really a negotiation at all.
Over the last week, Republican Leaders from both Chambers have complained that Democrats put forward a proposal for resolving the fiscal cliff that reflected our priorities. What did they expect?
Our proposal is simple: we want to end unnecessary tax breaks for the richest of the rich and provide security for everyone making less than $250,000.
No one should be surprised by President Obama’s offer. It is exactly what he has said he supports time and again.
It’s what I have said I support time and again.
It’s what Democratic Senators campaigned on across the country.
This plan to protect 98 percent of American families from a tax increase also passed the Senate four months ago.
And it has the support of the American people.
Sixty percent of Americans – including 63 percent of independents – support raising taxes on those making more than $250,000.
I wish I could share with you the details of the Republicans’ answering proposal.
Unfortunately, they have yet to produce one.
We’re not going to do their homework for them.
It is Republicans’ responsibility to respond with a counter-offer – not a hint dropped during a Wall Street Journal interview or a Sunday talk show, but a real offer.
And the sooner they make a legitimate offer, the sooner we can all start working to find the middle ground.
Let me remind my Republican colleagues that, as we work toward a final agreement, millions of middle-class families are nervously watching and waiting.
For four months, Republicans have held them hostage to protect the richest 2 percent of taxpayers.
Reasonable, rank-and-file Republicans are urging their leadership to stop delaying Senate-passed legislation that would give millions of middle-class families making less than $250,000 the certainty their taxes won’t go up by $2,200 on January 1.
It wouldn’t be hard for Speaker Boehner to pass our bill. Every Democrat in the House will vote for it.
To reach 218 votes to pass our legislation, it only takes 26 reasonable Republicans willing to put the needs of the middle class ahead of the demands of Grover Norquist.
As my friend and colleague, the Senior Senator from Missouri, Claire McCaskill, said on Sunday, John Boehner has a decision to make.
This is what she said: “He’s got to decide, is his speakership more important or is the country more important?”
As we continue to hope for a balanced agreement that will safeguard the economy, I hope Speaker Boehner ends the suspense for millions of American families.