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Public Statements

Working Together

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. REID. Mr. President, today, with the inspiration of the second inauguration of President Obama fresh in our minds, we renew our efforts to fulfill the promise of prosperity for every American.

The theme of yesterday's inauguration was ``Faith in America's Future.'' Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose birth and life we also celebrated Monday, once said, ``Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase.'' I have faith that the Members of the 113th Congress will bring this Nation closer to realizing the promise of prosperity. The last Congress was too often characterized by sharp political divides--divides that hampered efforts to foster success for all Americans. I am hopeful and cautiously optimistic that the 113th Congress will be characterized not by our divisions but by our renewed commitment to cooperation and compromise. I urge every woman and every man fortunate enough to serve in this Chamber to remember that it is possible to hold fast to our principles while making the compromises necessary to move our country forward.

Democrats will hold fast to the guiding principle that a strong middle class--and an opportunity for every American to enter that middle class--is the key to this Nation's success. Democrats will stand strong--strong for the standard of balance. We will remain resolute--resolute in the pursuit of fairness for all Americans, regardless of where they were born or the color of their skin, regardless of the size of their bank accounts, regardless of their religion or sexual orientation.

Those principles will direct our course as we introduce our first 10 bills today--a tradition we have had in the Senate, which is that the majority party introduces the first 10 bills--as we mend our broken immigration system, strengthen our schools, and rebuild our roads and bridges, and we will look to those principles as we bring forth other measures included in those 10 bills. Those principles will be foremost in our minds as we balance the right to bear arms with the right for every child to grow up safe from gun violence. Those principles will be our North Star as we work to end wasteful tax loopholes and balance thoughtful spending reductions with revenue from the wealthiest among us. And those principles will point the way as we work to ensure that this country's uniformed servicemembers never struggle to find employment when their military duties end. Through every struggle and every triumph, those principles must be our guide.

Not a single piece of important legislation can pass the Senate or become law without the votes of both Democrats and Republicans, so we will be willing to compromise and work with our colleagues across the aisle. Unfortunately, a number of bipartisan bills passed the Senate during the last Congress that were never acted upon by the House of Representatives. So this year the Senate will revisit some of those legislative priorities that passed on a bipartisan basis here.

We will again take up the Violence Against Women Act. This is an important piece of legislation that is expiring. We will take up the farm bill, which is a revolutionary piece of legislation that would save the country up to $24 billion. We will again revisit historical reforms to save the U.S. Postal Service, and we will take up legislation to make whole victims of Hurricane Sandy. Each of these initiatives passed the Senate on a bipartisan basis after deliberation and debate during the last Congress but was left to languish by the House.

The Senate will continue to help our fellow Americans recover from Hurricane Sandy before another similar disaster strikes. Hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses were destroyed in New York, New Jersey, and New England, and tens of thousands of Americans were left homeless by this destructive storm. We have a responsibility to aid our countrymen as they rebuild their lives and their communities, as we have after terrible floods, fires, and storms in other parts of our Nation.

Once we complete that vital legislation, the Senate will take action to make this institution we all love--the U.S. Senate--work more effectively. We will consider changes to the Senate rules. Because this matter warrants additional debate, today we will follow the precedents set in 2005 and again in 2011. We will reserve the right of all Senators to propose changes to the Senate rules, and we will explicitly not acquiesce in the carrying over of all the rules from the last Congress. It is my intention that the Senate will recess today rather than adjourn to continue the same legislative day and allow this important rules discussion to continue later this month. I am hopeful and cautiously optimistic that the Republican leader and I will reach an agreement that allows the Senate to operate more effectively in the coming months.


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