Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid spoke on the Senate floor today regarding Republican obstructionism and Majority Leader Cantor’s admission that Republicans are done legislating this Congress. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
Last Congress was one of the most productive – if not the most productive – in the history of the country.
But with a new Republican majority in the House, this Congress has been altogether different.
Consistently, this Congress has taken weeks or months to pass even simple, common-sense proposals – proposals that would previously have passed in minutes.
The Senate has wasted literally months considering bipartisan bills, only to have those bills smothered to death under piles of non-relevant, Republican amendments.
And Congressional Republicans have held even the most important jobs measures hostage to extract votes on unrelated, ideological amendments – despite the Minority Leader’s own call “to stop all the show votes.” Those were his words.
Democrats – and the American people – have endured this blatant obstruction all year.
And yesterday we read that we will have to endure it every day for the rest of the year – every day for the rest of this Congress.
House Republican Leaders admit they have given up on actually running the country.
Despite the work that remains to keep our economy on the right track and continue 27 months of private sector job growth, they say they’re done legislating for the year.
Listen to this report from the political publication Politico yesterday: “Serious legislating is all but done until after the election… The rest of the year, Cantor said, will likely be about sending ‘signals…’”
So, rather than work with Democrats to strengthen our economy or create jobs, Congressional Republicans will put on a show designed to demonstrate the extreme, ideological direction in which they would lead the country.
Majority Leader Cantor’s candor is frightening.
He said out loud what practically every Republican on Capitol Hill has been thinking all along: they care more about winning elections than creating jobs.
But you don’t usually hear them say so in public, where reporters are listening.
Instead, one short month ago, Speaker Boehner urged Congress to “roll up our sleeves and get to work.”
To a conservatives audience, the Speaker said “we can’t wait” until after the election to legislate.
Less than a week later, Leader McConnell urged us to “stop the show votes that are designed to fail. Let’s stop with the blame games. Let’s come together and do what the American people expect us to do.”
Speaker Boehner and Leader McConnell’s statements are Orwellian – they do exactly the opposite of what they say.
Even Republican Senator Olympia Snowe – by all accounts a moderate, who is retiring amid frustration over increasing partisanship in Washington – wrote to me in April to urge quick Senate action on many of the challenging issues facing us.
Her letter cried out for help – not from Democrats, but from Republicans.
Leader Cantor’s remarks provide a window into the true Republican agenda.
It seems when Congressional Republicans forget the world is watching, they say what they really mean – they’re more interested in putting on a partisan sideshow than in solving the very real problems facing this nation.
In truth, this comes as no surprise. It’s just more of the same.
Republicans have launched a series of attacks on women’s access to health care and contraception, and filibustered legislation to ensure American women equal pay for equal work.
They’ve put women’s lives at risk by holding the Violence Against Women Act in limbo.
They opposed our efforts to restore fairness to the tax code and to ensure billionaires don’t pay lower tax rates than middle-class families.
They blocked a bill to hire more teachers, cops, firefighters and first responders.
And they stalled important jobs measures like the aviation jobs bill and the transportation jobs bill for months to pursue ideological battles.
For months Congressional Republicans have actively worked against any piece of legislation that might create jobs or spur economic growth.
Don’t take my word for it – just look at their record.
Democrats have known all along that Congressional Republicans’ number one goal isn’t to improve the economy or create jobs – it’s to defeat President Obama.
The Minority Leader, said so plainly, in another moment of candor.
“The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term President.”
Senator McConnell said that in October, 2010 – at a time when this nation faced monumental challenges.
We were fighting our way back from the greatest recession since the Great Depression.
Yet Republicans’ top priority wasn’t to create jobs.
Their top priority wasn’t to help business grow and hire.
It wasn’t to train the next generation of skilled employees, hire more cops and firefighters or put construction crews back to work building roads and bridges.
It was to drag down the economy in the hopes of defeating President Obama.
And thanks to Leader Cantor’s words, today we know Republicans’ priorities haven’t changed one bit.