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

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Motion to proceed to Calendar No. 341, S. 2237, a bill to provide a temporary income tax credit for increased payroll and extend bonus depreciation for an additional year, and for other purposes.

Mr. REID. Mr. President, I made a commitment to proceed to a 5-year flood insurance bill following the farm bill. We have done that. It is the right thing to do. It is an extremely important piece of legislation. So I have lived up to that commitment. I had hoped the broad support we have for this extremely important bill would allow us to reach an agreement and finish the bill in a relatively short period of time.

As everyone knows, the senior Senator from Arkansas has had some issues with the bill. I have suggested that he have a vote. From talking to my Republican friends, they do not have a problem with that, giving him a vote. Unfortunately, as happens around here more often than I would like, we have not been able to reach agreement because a small group of Republicans is stopping us from doing this.

So my options are really very limited at this stage. I can file cloture and put at risk our ability to complete action on student loans and the Transportation bill. That is what it would do because if I file cloture, we will have to have a cloture vote on this on Thursday. And I would have to file cloture twice because there is the bill and there is the substitute, which everybody agreed was the right thing to do to move forward on the substitute. That is two votes, so at least 60 hours. The flood bill is a very important piece of legislation. It is not something we have to complete the day after tomorrow, but it is something we have to complete a month from now. So do I file cloture and put at risk these important pieces of legislation, meaning the Transportation bill, the student loans--put everything at risk--or I can give supporters of this bill time to try to come to an agreement on limiting the number of amendments.

I really believe the right thing to do is to give the people who want this bill passed, Democrats and Republicans, people who support this extremely important piece of legislation, a day or two to figure out if they can get something done. I hope they can. I honestly do. So I am not filing cloture on this bill as I had really actually contemplated. I hope my Republican friends will work with us to get this bill done.

This is a bill that deals with flood insurance. I have spoken to a number of Republican Senators, including Senator Vitter, who is the person who has spoken out on this more than anyone else, and he acknowledges that there may be a few relevant amendments that we should have on this bill. I do not care. That is fine with me. Let's set up a list of amendments and finish this bill. So I hope we can get that done. I really do. We should not get in a legislative morass on a bill that is extremely important for the country no matter what part of the country you live in. The dry deserts of Nevada, this is an important piece of legislation; the wetlands of Florida and Louisiana, very important piece of legislation. So I hope we can get this done.

Let me just say another word or two. I am very pleased to say that we are close to an agreement to prevent student loan rates from doubling for 7 million young men and women. That would happen at the end of the week. So I appreciate the leadership of President Obama. He has pushed forward on this for a long time. He has given many public statements in this regard. He has been talking to students around the country. He was in New Hampshire yesterday talking to students. They waited in the rain to hear him talk. He has been working with leaders in Congress to ensure that students will not pay the extra $1,000 to get a degree.

I would remind my colleagues, the Republicans, including the Speaker, my friend, were willing to give up on this issue a few weeks ago. We are not willing to give up on this issue. I am glad my Republican colleagues have agreed we should not give up on this issue. We do not want to let the rates double. Leader Cantor even said Republicans were done legislating. Remember that? But with the President's leadership and our persistence and the help of my valiant Republican friends, we are going to be able, with a little bit of good luck, to protect 7 million students. I hope that is, in fact, the case.

I appreciate the diligent work of the chairman of our committee, Senator Harkin. Senator Jack Reed has worked very hard on this, as have other Senators. I am leaving a few out, but I am certainly not doing that intentionally.

I hope everyone understands the legislative issues we have to work to toward the end of this week. I hope we can get it done. I hope we do not get trapped in one of these Senate procedural bogs where we are going to have to be here Friday, Saturday. You know, I hope we do not have to do that. There is no reason to. We can get all of our work done, but we do need a little bit of cooperation.


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