Transcript: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s floor speech on the bipartisan deal to avert default & re-open the government – Oct. 16, 2013

Partial transcript of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nevada) floor speech on the bipartisan deal to avert default and re-open the government on Oct. 16, 2013:

Madam President, the eyes of the world have been on Washington all this week and that is a gross understatement. And while they witnessed a great deal of political discord, today they will also see Congress reach a historic bipartisan agreement to re-open the government and avert a default on the nation’s bills.

The compromise we reached will provide our economy the stability it desperately needs. It’s never easy for two sides to reach consensus. It’s really hard. Sometimes harder than others. This time it was really hard.

But after weeks spent facing off across partisan divides that often seem too wide to cross, our country came to the brink of disaster. But in the end, political adversaries set aside their differences and disagreements to prevent that disaster.

I thank the Republican leader for his diligent efforts to reach this important agreement. The Republican leader’s cooperation was essential to reach an accord that can pass both chambers of Congress and also be signed by President Obama.

As part of our agreement in order to ensure that Congress continues to work on setting this country on a path to fiscal sustainability, this legislation instructs leaders to name conferees to a budget conference committee that will set our country on a long-term path to fiscal sustainability.

Madam President, I know that some say that’s going to be hard. But what we do is hard here and this is really hard but I think we can get it done.

The committee members selected must have open minds, be willing to consider every option no matter how painful that their political ideas or even their political parties.

This conference committee, led by Chairman [Patty] Murray and Chairman [Paul] Ryan, which produces a negotiated budget resolution in December, is the appropriate place to discuss our different views and the best way to chart a course for economic growth.

This legislation also funds the government through Jan. 15th and averts default through Feb. 7th, during which time we can work toward a long-term budget agreement that prevents these frequent crises.

Perhaps most importantly, this legislation ends the standoff that ground the work of Washington to a halt this fall.

Madam President, this is not a time for pointing fingers or blame. This is a time of reconciliation.

I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of this great Capitol to pass this remarkable agreement which will protect the long-term health of our economy and avert a default on our nation’s debt and allow us to set a foundation for economic expansion.

What we’ve done is send a message for Americans from every one of our 50 states, in addition to that the citizens of every country in the world that the United States lives up to its obligations.

Now, Congress must return to its most important job: fostering economic growth and protecting middle-class families.

I appreciate through all this the steady hand of President Obama, who helped guide us to this conclusion. I’m optimistic that the spirit of compromise that has taken root in the Senate over the last two days will endure.

I do know this: Sen. McConnell and I have sat in very, very serious discussions the last few days. We’re going to do everything we can to change the atmosphere in the Senate and accomplish things that need to be done for our country.


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