“[Republicans] want to force more than 25 million families to once again rely on crowded, expensive emergency rooms or go without the life-saving care they need… Unless Democrats agree to all their demands – unless we agree to strip tens of millions of Americans of their health insurance and force tens of millions more to live in fear – they will shut down the government.”
“All Speaker Boehner has to do is let every member of the House of Representatives vote – both Republicans and Democrats. The fate of our country and our economy now rests in Speaker Boehner’s hands… I hope he makes the responsible decision, and helps the Senate avert a government shutdown.”
Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid spoke on the Senate floor today regarding Republican efforts to shut down the government. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
This weekend, Republicans in the House of Representatives did what we all feared they would do: they voted to shut down the government. Republicans knew their empty political stunt would fall on its face in the United States Senate. Yet House Republicans voted to hold the government hostage until Democrats agree to return to the days when insurance companies put profit margins before patient care.
Their vote was strikingly irresponsible and stunningly callous. Republicans don’t seem to understand that stripping health insurance from millions of Americans would literally cost lives. Maybe none of those Republicans have gotten a doctor’s bill they couldn’t pay. Maybe none of those Republicans have spent a night awake worrying whether a heart attack or car accident would drive them into bankruptcy. But millions of Americans have experienced those fears.
For a glimpse at just how little regard Republicans have for struggling American families, look no further than chief Senate rabble rouser, the junior Senator from Texas, Senator Cruz. Yesterday the Senator from Texas told David Gregory of Meet the Press how easy it is for the average American to get health insurance even during these difficult economic times. This is what he said: “If you want people to get health insurance, the best way for them to get health insurance is to get a job.” This comment comes at a time when more than 11 million Americans are still struggling to find work and when millions more who already have jobs still lack health insurance. That’s why we passed Obamacare in the first place – to ensure access to quality, affordable health insurance for all Americans.
To Republicans, Obamacare is a punch line to rile up their base. But for American families, Obamacare isn’t a punch line – it’s a lifeline. For millions of Americans the Affordable Care Act is the only option to access quality health insurance at an affordable price.
And for 600,000 uninsured Nevadans who are eligible to purchase insurance through Nevada Health Link beginning tomorrow, Obamacare means access to affordable doctor visits, hospital stays, prescription drugs and more. Uninsured Nevadans will have access to good insurance plans that cost less than $100 a month. In fact, many Nevadans will get quality coverage for less than they pay for their monthly cell phone bill.
Republicans would rip that lifeline away. Republicans want to return to the days when insurance companies could discriminate against women just because they are women. I am not making this up. That’s the how was before Obamacare.
Republicans want to return to the days when insurance companies could deny care because of preexisting conditions like diabetes, epilepsy, breast cancer or even acne. I am not making this up. That’s how it was before Obamacare. As Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a breast cancer survivor, said Sunday that Republicans are trying to, “make sure that every single day… each of us who survived cancer or another life-threatening illness… stay living in fear for an insurance company to boot you off your insurance.”
Republicans want to return to the days when even children could be denied life-saving coverage because they were born with a heart murmur or a disability. I am not making this up. That’s how it was before Obamacare.
They want to return to the days when insurance companies could overcharge you when you were well and drop your policy when you were sick. I am not making this up. That’s how it was before Obamacare.
Because of the Affordable Care Act, millions of seniors are saving money on prescriptions drugs. Millions of young people are staying on their parents’ insurance. And hundreds of thousands of businesses that already offer their employees health insurance are getting tax credits for doing the right thing. But Republicans want to turn back the clock on all those benefits and more. And they want to force more than 25 million families to once again rely on crowded, expensive emergency rooms or go without the life-saving care they need. I am not making this up. That’s how it was before Obamacare.
Unless Democrats agree to all their demands – unless we agree to strip tens of millions of American of their health insurance and force tens of millions more to live in fear – they will shut down the government.
The House of Representatives could vote this afternoon to prevent a government shutdown. Many House Republicans have admitted Speaker Boehner has the votes to pass a clean bill to keep the governing open for business. This is what Republican Congressman Raul Labrador said yesterday on Meet the Press: “I am not [willing to vote for a clean continuing resolution]. But I think there’s enough people in the Republican Party who are willing to do that. And I think that’s what you’re going to see.” And Republican Congressman Charlie Dent said, “I’m prepared to vote for a clean resolution tomorrow. It’s time to govern. I don’t intend to support a fool’s errand.”
These reasonable Republicans are correct – the House easily could and clearly should pass a clean continuing resolution today. All Speaker Boehner has to do is let every member of the House of Representatives vote – both Republicans and Democrats.
The Speaker has another opportunity to do the right thing. This afternoon, the Senate voted to strip the hollow, political ransom notes from the House-passed continuing resolution. The Senate sent back to the House of Representatives a clean bill to keep the government functioning. And House Republicans will face the same choice tonight that they did this weekend: pass the Senate’s clean bill to keep the government functioning or force a government shutdown.
Democrats have already met Republicans in the middle and agreed to their lower funding level – even though Republicans have refused to negotiate a responsible budget for more than six months. For shrill Republican voices in the House to demand more time to negotiate is simply ludicrous. The President has met with Republicans in the White House and over dinner. He has given them a list of difficult cuts he’s willing to make to reduce the deficit. But Republicans haven’t reciprocated. They have never once put down in writing what they’re willing to concede. So Democrats are through negotiating with ourselves.
The fate of our country and our economy now rests in Speaker Boehner’s hands. Tonight we’ll see whether the Speaker is really willing to shutdown the government – risking our economic recovery – to extract callous political concessions. I hope he makes the responsible decision, and helps the Senate avert a government shutdown.