Welcoming New Membersby Senator Harry Reid
Posted on 2013-01-23
REID. Madam President, yesterday I had the opportunity to meet
with my Democratic Senate caucus for the first time this year. It was
the first opportunity for all of us to sit down together, to break
bread, and to discuss challenges and opportunities we all face. As the
majority leader, I was gratified to see so many new faces and to have
such an inclusive caucus. It was music to my ears to hear the
announcement that the Presiding Officer today would be Heidi Heitkamp.
We have nine new Democratic Senators. Four of these new Senators are women, and so about one-third of our Democratic caucus is now women. We have, for example, the first Asian woman. We have expanded our majority. I am particularly satisfied that with each passing election cycle our caucus better reflects the Nation it serves. But despite the diversity of the caucus--and in particular its freshmen--there is one quality shared by each Democratic Senator: deep and abiding patriotism.
As Governor Adlai Stevenson said: Patriotism is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.
That is true. Patriotism is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime. If we look at the records, the careers of these new Senators, that is the way it is.
Each person coming here reminds me of my first few weeks in the House of Representatives when Tip O'Neill--we had a large incoming class, so he called us in these groups of maybe 15 or so, and he told us something I have always remembered. He said: Each of you are successful politicians or you wouldn't be here. And that is true. I say that to each of my new Senators. They are successful politicians, and there is nothing wrong with the word ``politician.'' I am proud I am a politician. I am proud I serve in government, and we should each be proud.
So I am pleased now, and I was pleased yesterday, to be surrounded by so many dedicated public servants, new Members and old alike, who have devoted their lives to making their individual States and our shared Nation a better place in which to grow up, grow a family, and grow old.
Each new Democratic Member is accomplished, I repeat, in his or her own right. Our new caucus members include a couple of former Governors, a Harvard law professor, an engineer, just to name a few. While they have each accomplished so much already, their greatest achievements are still ahead of them. I know they will look back with satisfaction on the work we do together in the Senate.
Our caucus, this Congress, and our country face immense challenges. As we approach these tests and trials, this diverse group of new Democratic Senators will be united by a single objective: to fight for fairness and balance on behalf of the middle class.
[[Page S190]] Senate Rules Reform We are going to continue to work on Senate rules reforms. I will continue to work with the Republican leader on a package of reforms I hope we can agree on. As I have said before, if we don't agree, then we are going to do something as a Democratic caucus alone. I remain cautiously optimistic we will be able to move forward on a bipartisan basis. I hope we can do that. I will have more to say about that if, in fact, we can do that.
We are not going to get everything we want, and the Republicans aren't going to get everything they want. But maybe we can find a sweet spot in the middle and come up with something that will make the Senate more efficient. However, Democrats reserve the right of all Senators to propose changes to the Senate rules. We will explicitly not acquiesce in the carrying over of all the rules from last Congress. There must be some agreement reached or we will have to use every means to make the Congress--especially the Senate--more efficient.
Would the Chair announce the business of the day.