Reid Remarks on Republican Efforts to Shut Down the Government

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“The reviews are in, and they are universal: the ransom demanded by House Republicans in exchange for keeping the government open is unworkable and unrealistic.”

“President Obama has been clear. I have been clear. Any bill that defunds Obamacare is dead on arrival in the Senate… Obamacare is the law of the land and it will remain the law of the land as long as Barack Obama is President of the United States and as long as I am the Senate Majority Leader.”

“Americans overwhelmingly oppose defunding Obamacare, especially if it means shutting down the government to do so.”

Washington, D.C.Nevada Senator Harry Reid spoke on the Senate floor today regarding the Republican continuing resolution passed by the House on Friday, which defunds Obamacare and is dead on arrival in the Senate.  Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:

Inside the House Republican bubble, the crowd cheered a plan to deny health insurance to tens of millions of Americans or else shut down the government. Outside the House Republican bubble, the reaction was altogether different.

The radical Tea Party plan to shut down the government unless Democrats agree to deny funding to implement Obamacare – passed by the House of Representatives on Friday – has been called “the dumbest idea ever.” It’s been called a “box canyon” – a morass from which Republicans will not escape unscathed. It’s been called “dishonest.” It’s been called a “suicide note.” And that’s just by Republicans in United States Senate.

The reviews are in, and they are universal: the ransom demanded by House Republicans in exchange for keeping the government open is unworkable and unrealistic.

President Obama has been clear. I have been clear. Any bill that defunds Obamacare is dead on arrival in the Senate.

The Affordable Care Act has been the law of the land for four years. Democrats are willing to work with reasonable Republicans to improve this law. But we will not bow to Tea Party anarchists who deny the mere fact that Obamacare is the law. We will not bow to Tea Party anarchists who refuse to accept that the Supreme Court ruled Obamacare to be constitutional. And we will not bow to Tea Party anarchists in the House and the Senate who ignore the fact that President Obama was overwhelmingly reelected in November.

These fantasists point to disapproval for Obamacare as justification for taking the federal government – and our economy – hostage to their demands. What they fail to mention is that 59 percent of Americans either support the law or wish it were even more far-reaching and transformative of our health care delivery system. The vast majority of Americans – including those who disapprove of the health care law – want Congress to work to improve it, not tear it down altogether. And according to a new CNBC poll, Americans overwhelmingly oppose defunding Obamacare, especially if it means shutting down the government to do so.

The simple fact remains: Obamacare is the law of the land and it will remain the law of the land as long as Barack Obama is President of the United States and as long as I am the Senate Majority Leader.

This latest gamble by Republicans in the House of Representatives – made with the backing of their radical allies in the Senate – only postpones the inevitable. This week the United States Senate will act as quickly as Tea Party Republicans will allow. Once the Senate has acted, House Republicans will face a choice whether to pass a clean continuing resolution or shut down the federal government.

Are extremist Republicans really willing to shut down the government? The world looks to America for leadership. Is this lack of respect for the rule of law truly the example we wish to set for others? And are Republicans so intent on undermining both President Obama and his signature health care law that they are willing to inflict severe damage to our economy in the process?

America will know exactly who to blame: Republican fanatics in the House and Senate. I urge those Republicans to listen to their more reasonable colleagues in the Senate.

Two dozen Senate Republicans have spoken out against this foolhardy plan to drive the economy off a cliff, Thelma and Louise style, if Democrats do not bow to their every demand.  I am glad to see more and more of my moderate Republican colleagues stepping up to speak sense to extremist elements of their party. They are wise enough to know that risking the nation’s economic recovery for the sake of a Pyrrhic ideological victory would be a death knell for the Republican Party.

So I say to House and Senate Republicans who continue to deny reality and risk America’s economy: listen to the chorus all around you. Your moderate Senate colleagues have urged you off this reckless course. The nation’s largest business group, the Chamber of Commerce, has urged you off this reckless course. American families, who are weary both of these foolish partisan fights and of these difficult economic times, have urged you off this reckless course. And on behalf of Democrats, who long for the days when we legislated through cooperation instead of hostage taking, I have personally urged you off this reckless course. What remains to be seen is whether my Republican colleagues on both sides of the Capitol are wise enough to listen.

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