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Small Business Jobs and Tax Relief Act--Motion to Proceed

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. REID. Madam President, the next hour will be equally divided, with the majority controlling the first half and Republicans controlling the final half. We will continue to debate flood insurance. I hope we can reach an agreement to complete action on this bill. We also need to consider the transportation and the student loan extensions before the end of this week.

There are a lot of things going on on Capitol Hill today. We have been in touch with the Speaker's office. Our staffs have been meeting. When we come to these kinds of bills, the Finance Committee is extremely important. And Senator Baucus and I have had many meetings with him and conversations with him. The Senator is key to getting everything done. He is needed on the highway bill, he is needed on the flood insurance bill, and he is needed in student loans. He realizes that and has a tremendous obligation and burden to bear, but he always comes through. He has a good relationship with his counterpart in the House, DAVID CAMP.

I am cautiously optimistic we can end this week tomorrow even, with a little bit of luck, but we may not be able to. We have to see what happens in the next 24 hours, which will be key.


Monday's U.S. Supreme Court decision striking most of the unconstitutional Arizona immigration law reaffirms something most of us already knew: the onus is on Congress to repair our broken system. No one denies that the system is broken. But in the 40 hours since the Supreme Court's ruling, Republicans have engaged in revisionist history to explain why it has taken so long to fix it.

Here are the facts. When Democrats brought a comprehensive immigration reform bill to the floor in 2007, Republicans filibustered the legislation. This legislation was led by Senator McCain and Senator Kennedy, among others. The Republicans filibustered this legislation even though Republican President Bush supported it. They twice filibustered the DREAM Act, which would allow children brought to the United States by their parents to go to college, serve in the military, and work toward citizenship.

Democrats have done everything that is humanly possible to pass comprehensive immigration reform. We have been trying to do it for years. Two Congresses ago, we spent more time on immigration on the floor than any other issue, and we were spending that time because we were being slow-walked by the Republicans.

The Republicans are divided on this issue; we are not. Ninety percent of Democrats support comprehensive

immigration reform and, of course, the DREAM Act. Everytime Democrats offer to work together on comprehensive immigration reform, even bringing to the floor bipartisan ideas originally proposed by Republicans, the other side finds an excuse not to support the change.

On the floor today is the senior Senator from Illinois, the assistant majority leader. He was one of the pushers of the DREAM Act. He had with him two Republican Senators who were pushing just as hard, but those two Senators have disappeared in supporting the legislation. Yet Republicans blame Democrats for inaction. Well, they cannot have it both ways--they cannot blame Democrats for not passing a bipartisan immigration bill when they are the ones who blocked the bill.

Moving forward, Congress has two things in its favor. Thanks to President Obama's decisive action, the specter of deportation no longer hangs over the heads of 800,000 young men and women brought to the country as children. And the Supreme Court offered yet another affirmation that a long-term fix for a broken immigration system must come from Congress and not from the States.

Now is not the time for Republicans to continue this harangue that they have had: It is not our fault. It is time for them to work with us for a reasonable solution, one that continues to secure our borders, punishes unscrupulous employers who exploit immigrants and undercut American wages, improves our dysfunctional legal immigration system, and finally requires the 11 million people who are undocumented to register with the government, pay fines, taxes, learn English, and then they do not go to the front of the line, they go to the back of the line. They do this in order to change their status. If my Republican colleagues truly care about changing the status quo, they should step forward now and work with Democrats, not criticize from the sidelines. Unfortunately, Republicans who once favored a permanent solution for America's broken immigration system are deserting efforts to find common ground.

The only decisive Republican voice on this issue today seems to be from Mitt Romney, who has called the unconstitutional Arizona law the ``model for the Nation.'' That is what he said. He has also promised to veto the DREAM Act. He said that, I didn't. Democrats believe that the kind of institutionalized racism in the Arizona law is hardly the ``model for reform'' in a country that stands for liberty and justice for all. We believe upstanding young people who have never known any home but the United States of America should be able to go to college, fight for their country, and contribute to society, not face deportation. But at least we know where Mitt Romney stands on those issues, even if we disagree with him. He is for vetoing the DREAM Act, and he believes the Arizona law is the ``model'' for our country. That is really too bad.

As long as Republicans remain unwilling to vote for comprehensive, bipartisan immigration reform, we will remain at an impasse. I want my Republican colleagues to know this: As soon as they are willing to join us to craft a commonsense legislative solution that is tough, fair, and practical, we are ready to join them.


The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved.


The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Under the previous order, the following hour will be equally divided and controlled between the two leaders or their designees, with the majority controlling the first half and the Republicans controlling the final half.

The Senator from Illinois.


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