Reid Remarks on The Death of Nelson Mandela, The Economy, and Health Reform

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“Mandela’s… capacity for forgiveness was as boundless as his dedication to democracy, freedom, and equality.”

“Despite the costly Republican government shutdown… private sector businesses have added more than 8 million jobs over the last 45 consecutive months.”

“There are still problems with the Affordable Care Act and ways we can make it better. But we can’t improve the law without help from reasonable Republicans. It’s time for my Republican colleagues to give up their fantasy of repealing a law that’s already benefiting tens of millions of Americans.”

 

Washington, D.C.Nevada Senator Harry Reid spoke on the Senate floor today regarding the death of South African President Nelson Mandela and the schedule for the December work period. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:

Welcome back. I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday, surrounded by loved ones. This week the United States Senate begins a short, two-week work period, during which we must accomplish a great deal.

But before I discuss the business before the Senate, I mourn the loss and celebrate the life of South Africa’s great emancipator, Nelson Mandela. President Mandela once said: “Difficulties break some men but make others.” Mandela’s dedication to peace and justice was forged in the fire of adversity.

But while he endured great hardship for the cause of universal suffrage, his capacity for forgiveness was as boundless as his dedication to democracy, freedom, and equality. President Mandela leaves a legacy that will inspire current and future leaders for generations to come.

This week, as South Africa mourns the founder of its Democracy, the Senate must continue the work of our own Democracy. I suggest to my colleagues that the Senate will work long nights, early mornings and possibly weekends to complete its workload before the holidays. In two weeks, the Senate must complete work on the National Defense Authorization Act, address the issue of additional sanctions against Iran, pass an agriculture jobs conference report, ensure seniors on Medicare can keep their doctors by adjusting physician payments, consider a large number of nominations and complete a budget agreement that protects our economy and ensures our government can continue the work of the people.

Despite the costly Republican government shutdown this fall, last week’s jobs report proved that the American economy continues to gain steam. Private sector businesses have added more than 8 million jobs over the last 45 consecutive months. If Republicans hadn’t insisted on short-sighted, draconian cuts that forced layoffs of tens of thousands of teachers, firefighters and police officers, the economy would be growing even faster than it is today.

Despite last week’s good economic news Congress can and must do even more to create jobs for the millions of Americans still looking for work. We must replace meat-ax cuts with smart savings, reducing the deficit by closing wasteful tax loopholes, and make job-creating investments that spur economic growth. As we close out the year, I hope Republicans and Democrats can put aside our differences, and work together to produce results for the middle class.

It is also time for Republicans to work with Democrats – instead of against us – to make the landmark health reform law work. I remind my Republican colleagues that the Affordable Care Act is the law, has been the law of the land for four years and was upheld by the Supreme Court.

As Democrats have predicted for months, enrollment in Affordable Care Act exchanges is picking up speed as we approach the New Year. As Americans learn about the benefits of this law, more and more of them are logging on to shop for affordable, quality insurance through the state and national exchanges.

The rollout of the national Affordable Care Act website was rocky to say the least. Congress had to make crucial improvements to other landmark programs, such as Social Security and Medicare, when they were first enacted as well.

But now that many of the major problems with the healthcare site have been fixed, hundreds of thousands of Americans are logging on every day to research plans and sign up for insurance. States that embraced the Affordable Care Act – such as Kentucky and Washington – have also reported success with their exchanges.

And thanks to the healthcare law, in a few short weeks no one can ever again be denied insurance just because they have a preexisting condition – because they are a cancer survivor, because they live with diabetes or because they had acne growing up. Because of this landmark law, insurance companies can no longer cancel your policy when you get sick, charge you more because you’re a woman or set an arbitrary limit on the care you receive.

Millions of seniors have saved billions of dollars on medicine because the Affordable Care Act closed the gap in prescription drug coverage. Millions of young people have stayed on their parents’ health plans. And 17 million Americans will qualify for tax credits to purchase the coverage they need and deserve.

There are still problems with the Affordable Care Act and ways we can make it better. But we can’t improve the law without help from reasonable Republicans. It’s time for my Republican colleagues to give up their fantasy of repealing a law that’s already benefiting tens of millions of Americans and start working with Democrats to make the Affordable Care Act succeed instead.

 

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