New Congressby Senator Richard J. Durbin
Posted on 2015-01-07
DURBIN. I have the opening remarks from the Democratic leader,
Harry Reid, which I wish to read into the Record.
Senator Reid states: As some already know, I had a mishap in my home last week while exercising. As a result, I sustained several broken bones in my face and ribs. As bad as that sounds, I am doing well and recovering quickly.
I regret I am not on the Senate floor to make these remarks in person, but my doctors have urged caution and ordered me to stay home while I recuperate.
I thank my friend, the Assistant Democratic Leader, for delivering my remarks today.
A Greek philosopher once wrote: ``There is nothing permanent except change.'' Our nation's elections prove that theory every two years. This is one of those times of change--for the Senate and for our country.
The desks in this Chamber have been rearranged, committee assignments adjusted, and a new majority assumes control for the next two years. Or in other words, it's just another Wednesday in January at the start of a new Congress.
For all of the changes, our duties as United States Senators remain the same: We are here to help working Americans and ensure our government has all it needs to serve the people.
In spite of almost no Republican cooperation over the last six years, we've made significant strides in many regards. The new Majority Leader claims the Senate hasn't achieved, in his words, ``squat'' in recent years. The numbers, however, tell a different story. Today the U.S. unemployment rate stands at 5.8 percent. Over the last six years the American economy has added 10 million jobs. The stock market has reached all-time highs. Our nation's manufacturers are thriving. The American automobile industry was brought back from the brink of collapse in spite of Republican opposition. And let's not forget that there are more than 10 million Americans newly insured with health care coverage.
While some here in Washington may see that as ``squat,'' the economic recovery has been very real to American families. I know how important it has been to working Nevadans.
And while we worked to improve the economy without Republicans' help, we also worked to fulfill our constitutional obligation to offer advice and consent on Presidential nominations.
Just last Congress we confirmed 132 judges--the most since the Carter Administration. Overall, we confirmed 611 of the President's nominees last Congress in spite of Republican opposition. As we speak, we have an Attorney General and a Secretary of Defense waiting to be confirmed. I remind everyone that last Congress the Republicans mounted an unprecedented filibuster for a nominee for Secretary of Defense [a former Republican Senator].
I challenge my friend, the Majority Leader, to change course and work with Senate Democrats in confirming the President's nominees in the 114th Congress. Working together, we can easily meet and surpass last Congress's benchmark of 611 confirmations.
My Republican colleagues, and especially the Majority Leader, should also know that Senate Democrats are especially eager to continue to help American families.
Working together, we can send meaningful, bipartisan legislation to the President for his signature.
The mistakes of the past, the gratuitous obstruction and wanton filibustering will not be a hallmark of the Democratic minority in the 114th Congress. The filibuster is an indispensable tool of the minority, but Republicans' abuse of it last Congress has come to epitomize the gridlock here in the United States Capitol.
To be clear, I have no intention of just rolling over. I can't. Not when the middle class is teetering on the verge of extinction.
Any attempt to erode protections for working American families--the dismantling of Dodd-Frank, the weakening of net neutrality rules, or the Republicans' never-ending quest to repeal the Affordable Care Act, known as ObamaCare--will be met with swift and unified Democratic opposition.
But we'd rather legislate together. And there's plenty of common ground for bipartisan compromise if Republicans are willing.
That is the end of the statement from Senator Reid.