Omnibus and Tax Extenders Negotiationsby Senator Harry Reid
Posted on 2015-12-15
REID. Mr. President, as my friend, the Republican leader, stated,
we are continuing to work toward a bipartisan compromise on the omnibus
and tax extenders legislation. I have worked hard--we have all worked
hard--to get to yes on this massive undertaking, this huge
appropriations bill and this big tax bill. I have been involved on a
personal basis in every twist and turn of the way.
I want to say a word about the status. We all know that this agreement is not completed, but I have been so impressed with the endurance and the massive amount of experience that these men and women have--both Democrats and Republicans. Senator McConnell and I had an event last week. We sat next to one another. I sent him a note about how impressed I was with one of his staff people who is working intimately with one of mine.
So I want to tell all the staff in all these buildings here on Capitol Hill who have been working on this night and day how much I appreciate their hard work and how the American people are so fortunate to have these good men and women working on their behalf. We find that most everyone engaged and working here on Capitol Hill are not involved for the money. They are involved because they want to do something to help change policy and to try to do what they can to be involved in what goes on in this great country. So I appreciate all they have done to this point.
I think we have done a good job as responsible legislators, working to find common ground and strike a balance that can pass Congress and be signed into law by the President. But it is time for a reality check on where we stand on things.
An agreement could be filed right now that covers most everything that we have discussed and would keep the government funded fully for a year. At this point, the only major outstanding issue is Republicans' insistence on raising the export ban on crude oil.
We have made very clear to Republicans that if they insist on including the oil export ban, there must be included in this robust policies to reduce our carbon emissions and encourage the use of renewable energy. So for the past many days I have worked hard--as a number of others have--to strike the right balance. We have made multiple offers to Republicans that were certainly doable, reasonable, and all Republicans had to do was say yes. Saying yes to any of the offers we put on the table dealing with renewables over the past few days--especially the last 3 days--the ink would be dry, the entire package would be filed, and we would be moving ahead on the floor. I made it very clear to my Republican colleagues that there are offers out there that have been unanswered, and I hope they are answered very quickly.
I have appreciated getting to know the Speaker better than I did before. I found him to be available and someone who understands the policy, and I am encouraged that last night he said when he had his teleconference with all of his Members that he thought we were going to have a deal completed. I hope that in fact is the case.
Republicans can take yes for an answer. That is all they have to do. But Congress is now faced with two clear paths forward. The first is very simple: Pair the oil export ban with much needed policies to reduce our carbon emissions and build more renewable energy. The second path is that we move ahead on the government funding bill and tax package without the package of oil and renewable policies. That would not be my first preference, but we would have to live with it.
We don't have the legislative language yet on the tax package. This isn't pointing fingers at anyone adversely. It is simply the fact that we need to get this done. We don't have the legislative language done yet. At this pace, we are going to be here through Christmas. We need to get that done now.
So these are the two choices. Either path forward will keep the government open and funded. I certainly hope so. Republicans must decide which they prefer.
If Republicans think reducing our carbon emissions and encouraging the use of renewable energy is an unacceptable price to pay, we can move the rest of the package without the oil export ban, but we need not delay anymore. There is no reason to delay any further.
So I say to everyone who is listening here this morning: It is decision time.
Mr. President, would the Chair announce the business of the day.