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Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for Fiscal Year 2014

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. REID. Mr. President, as we just heard, the Senate has resumed consideration of the budget debate of S. Con. Res. 8, the budget resolution. We will continue debate during today's session. Senators will be notified when votes are scheduled, of course.

The budget has 34 hours left, and then following that, we will have some votes. It is up to the two managers of this bill if we have votes before the 34 hours expire. These are two experienced Senators and they know how to handle this budget, but it would seem to me that we should move as quickly as we can to debate these issues. I hope Senators come and offer their opinions as to the budget that Chairman Murray has brought to the Senate floor. Maybe some people will want to talk about what passed in the House yesterday, the Ryan Republican budget.

Everyone should understand that this time will run out at the latest at 7 p.m. tomorrow night. It seems to me the two managers could reduce that time somewhat. If they don't, it doesn't matter; we will be here until we finish this budget. If we are here all night Friday, we will be in all night Friday. I spoke to Senator Murray, and she was willing to be in all night last night; she is willing to be here all night tonight and all night Friday night until we finish this. We are going to move forward and finish this budget.


Mr. REID. Mr. President, three years ago this coming Saturday was a historic time in this country and in the world, actually, because the Affordable Care Act passed. It was a very wintry night when it passed--very cold. It was the greatest single step in generations to help the American people.

This was unique because for the first time--going back to the days of Harry Truman where he talked about a health care bill for the country, to Eisenhower, who talked about a health care bill for this country--we were finally able to accomplish it. We ensured access to quality, affordable health care for every American with ObamaCare, the Affordable Care Act.

Millions and millions of Americans, as we speak, are benefiting from this legislation. Insurance companies can no longer arbitrarily place lifetime caps on insurance policies during someone's care. No longer can they suddenly say: Sorry, you have cancer or had that bad accident, but you reached $1,000--or whatever limit they set, $10,000--and you are through. Go get help someplace else because insurance is over. That arbitrary lifetime cap by insurance companies put Americans just a car accident or an illness away from doom.

Today children are no longer denied insurance because they were born with a disease, disability, or some other problem. They no longer are denied insurance. And being a woman, like my daughter, is no longer a preexisting medical condition. Before ObamaCare passed--and everyone needs to understand this--my daughter Lana had a preexisting condition; she was born a girl. That is gone.

In less than a year, about 130 million Americans with preexisting conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes can rest assured they will have access to affordable insurance and lifesaving care regardless of their health and how much money they make.

In Nevada alone--a sparsely populated State of some 3 million people--tens of thousands of seniors have saved tens of millions of dollars because 3 years ago we filled the doughnut hole. What that means is they don't have to pay exorbitant prices for their prescription drug coverage.

Health care reform is not only saving money, it saves lives. In Nevada there are thousands of examples, but I will give one about a 26-year-old woman named Sarah Coffey Kugler, a native of Gardnerville, NV. Gardnerville is a beautiful place next to the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Well, this young lady, who was very smart--and still is--was half way through her first year of law school at the University of Connecticut when she was diagnosed with stage 4 Hodgkin's disease. Not stage 1, 2, or 3, but the worst, stage 4. She had done everything right. She knew she needed insurance, so she went to the University of Connecticut and bought the best plan she could for students so she would have health insurance. Due to her cancer and the difficult treatment to fight it, she had to drop out of school. She had no insurance because insurance would not cover her.

As I said, she was no longer a student and, as a result, no longer qualified for student health insurance. What was she to do? She needed a bone marrow transplant. She and her family thought there was a very strong possibility she would pass away.

Before ObamaCare, Sarah would have been one of tens of millions of Americans who desperately needed lifesaving care but didn't have insurance to take care of it. Before ObamaCare, Sarah might have even become 1 of the 45,000 Americans who die each year because they lacked health insurance. But thanks to the Affordable Care Act, ObamaCare, Sarah was able to sign on to her parents' insurance policy.

Sarah is 1 of 3.1 million young people in America--approximately 35,000 in Nevada--who have benefited from a law that allows children to stay on their parents' health plans until they are 26 years old.

Sarah's story has a happy ending, as so often happens in America where we can get health care. She got the treatment she needed. Her most recent PET scan was clear, and she plans to return to school this coming September and finish law school.

Her mother Sue sent me a letter. She wrote that ObamaCare and the dedicated doctors who took care of her daughter saved her life. There are so many legacies of this landmark legislation. No American will end up in an emergency room because they have no insurance. No American will live in fear of losing his or her insurance because they don't have a job. And in the richest Nation in the world, no insurance company ever again will put a pricetag on a human life.

Long, long ago Thomas Jefferson wrote: ``The care of human life and happiness ..... is the first and only object of good government.''

I am gratified that the Affordable Care Act, ObamaCare, meets Thomas Jefferson's standard. I am so happy this law came into being. For all of us who participated in that, we will always remember that cold winter when we were in session longer, I am told, than any other time in the history of the country to pass this legislation. We worked hard to pass it. It is already insuring the care of human life, which remains the first object of government, as Thomas Jefferson said it should.


Mr. REID. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the pending motion be set aside and the following amendments to S. Con. Res. 8 be called up:

Murray No. 433, Hatch No. 297, Stabenow No. 432, Grassley No. 156, Mikulski No. 431, Ayotte No. 158, Cruz No. 202, Murray No. 439, Crapo No. 222, and Shaheen No. 438; that the time until 8:10 p.m. be equally divided between the two managers, or their designees, prior to votes in relation to the Sessions motion and the first four amendments listed; that all after the first vote this evening be 10-minute votes; that there be 2 minutes equally divided in the usual form prior to each vote; that no amendments be in order to the motion or any of the amendments prior to the votes in relation to these items; that following votes this evening, the remainder of today's session be for debate only on the concurrent resolution; further, that when the Senate convenes at 9 a.m. on Friday, March 22, the Senate resume consideration of S. Con. Res. 8 with the time until 11 a.m. equally divided between the two managers or their designees; that at 11 a.m., the Senate proceed to vote in relation to the remaining amendments listed above; that there be 2 minutes equally divided prior to each vote and all after the first vote in this sequence be 10-minute votes; that upon disposition of the last amendment listed, there be 2 hours equally divided between the two managers or their designees remaining on the concurrent resolution; finally, the next amendment in order be an amendment from the majority side to be followed by a Republican alternative to Shaheen No. 438.


Mr. REID. Mr. President, I have been in consultation with Senator McConnell today. We believe this is an appropriate way to go forward. I appreciate very much the work of the two managers on this legislation. This is noteworthy legislation. Debate at this point has been courteous and strong. There are feelings on both sides, and that is what this body is supposed to be.

So I am grateful to the two managers of this bill, and I again appreciate my friend from Alaska yielding.


Mr. REID. Mr. President, while I have everyone's attention, today, this evening, and tomorrow, we are going to have a lot of votes. Everyone should understand they are not going to have time to spend a lot of time with constituents, to make phone calls. When the time is up, we are turning it in--Democrats or Republicans. There are no excuses. We have a lot to do and we are determined to get these votes in very quickly.


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