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Harry R.
Democrat NV

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    by Senator Harry Reid

    Posted on 2013-02-12

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    REID. Following leader remarks, the Senate will resume consideration of S. 47, the Violence Against Women Act. Time until 11 a.m. will be equally divided and controlled between the two leaders or their designees.

    At 11 a.m. there will be up to six rollcall votes in order to complete action on this legislation. Following disposition of VAWA, the Violence Against Women Act, we will recess until 2:15 p.m. to allow for the weekly caucus meetings.

    The State of the Union Address is this evening. Senators will gather at 8:20 p.m. tonight in this Chamber in order to proceed as a body to the House of Representatives, where the speech will be given.

    There are up to six rollcall votes remaining: the Leahy amendment dealing with sex trafficking, the Portman amendment dealing with sex trafficking, the Murkowski amendment dealing with tribal protections, the Coburn amendment dealing with consolidation of DOJ rape programs, the Coburn amendment dealing with notice to victims and, most importantly, final passage of this legislation.

    We are still working on some committee hearings that are creating some conflict, and we are going to see if we can work something out. At this stage we have not done that. Unless we ask the Senate to change the voting order, we will have those votes starting at 11 o'clock today.

    State of the Union Four years ago, as newly elected President of the United States, Barack Obama prepared to deliver his first address to a joint session of Congress. The country at that time was in the midst of a grave crisis. Our economy had been shaken to its core by a financial crisis sparked by Wall Street greed. Millions of Americans had lost their jobs, their homes, and their hope.

    President Obama predicted America would rise to meet the challenges of the day. He said: We will rebuild, we will recover, and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before. The weight of this crisis will not determine the destiny of this Nation.

    Four years later we can say with certainty he was right. Over the last 35 months, American businesses have created more than 6.1 million jobs--6.1 million jobs--including hundreds of thousands of jobs in manufacturing in the auto industry. As a matter of fact, the figures are staggering. Five hundred thousand manufacturing jobs have been added, and 1 million jobs have been saved due to the President's auto rescue program. That is a fairly significant change.

    We still have a long way to go to get back to full strength, and there are still too many Americans out of work. We made solid progress in the last 4 years, but we have a long way to go. The depth of the crisis did not determine our destiny. Instead, determination drove us to prosper again. We are faced with an opportunity disguised as a challenge. We must build on this progress, fostering a lasting recovery that ensures Americans' success is determined by the strength of their will, not the size of their wallet.

    Tonight, President Obama will chart a course to maintain the economic progress we made and revitalize the still struggling middle class. I look forward to hearing his vision. I expect the President will call for commonsense investments in our future. Investments have been deferred for far too long because of economic turmoil. When times are hard, these investments are easy to put off. If America hopes to compete in a changing world, we must prepare today's students for tomorrow's jobs. We must give small businesses and American manufacturers the support they need to thrive. We must stop relying on foreign oil and start investing in renewable energy. It is better for our environment and for our economy.

    If we hope to rebuild and maintain a world-class economy, we must build a 21st century infrastructure to support that economy. Renewing these investments is not only the right thing to do for our country, it is the right thing to do for our economy.

    In the last 4 years the President has repeatedly reached across the aisle to Republicans, suggesting we find common ground for the sake of recovery. Tonight will be no different. He will [[Page S598]] reach across that aisle. I expect the President's proposal will include ideas supported by both Democrats and, in the past, Republicans. I hope my Republican colleagues will give his vision the consideration it deserves.

    Tonight President Obama will also propose a balanced alternative to the devastating automatic spending cuts which take effect next month. Democrats believe we should prevent these harmful arbitrary cuts, cuts to both military and, initiatives to help middle-class families prosper. Remember, Republicans in the Senate and in the House voted for these harsh measures. We could easily avert these job-destroying cuts which would hinder the economic recovery by ending wasteful tax breaks for corporations and giveaways to companies that ship jobs overseas. A balanced approach to pare senseless spending reduction with a modest contribution from the wealthiest Americans would limit the damage of the so-called sequestration.

    I was disappointed to learn yesterday the Republican leaders in the House have no intention of bringing legislation to the floor to replace the sequester with a more sensible approach. They are going to do nothing.

    Senate Democrats will offer their own solution to the sequester later this week. If Republicans truly agree that these across-the-board cuts would be damaging to our economy and to national security, they should work to help us pass an alternative.

    During his first State of the Union Address a long time ago, the first President of the United States, George Washington, told Congress this: The welfare of our country is the great object to which our cares and efforts ought to be directed.

    As Republicans and Democrats from both Chambers come together, I repeat, the welfare of our country is the great object to which our cares and efforts ought to be directed.

    Democrats and Republicans should hear the message that George Washington gave a long time ago. It is important to listen to the State of the Union tonight, which we will, and we should all keep in mind the words of George Washington. Despite our differences, if there is the will to work together, the power to build an economy works for every American, and we will succeed.


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