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Hire More Heroes Act of 2014 --Motion to Proceed--Coninued--

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. REID. Mr. President, I hope my Republican colleagues will think long and hard the next few days. We have made some progress this year--it has been limited but some progress--in passing a few bipartisan bills. We started with the Murray-Ryan budget, which was significant, and we were able to get that done. We were able to get the debt ceiling raised without the struggle we have had the last 5 years. We were able to pass an Omnibus spending bill, which is significantly important. We worked together to pass a childcare development block grant bill. And after four or five attempts to end a filibuster, which we were unable to do, but finally we were able to do that, we got five stalwart Republicans to join with us and we passed the unemployment extension benefits.

Today, we have before us the Shaheen-Portman energy efficiency bill, creating 200,000 jobs. It is a fine piece of legislation. It started out good, but it got better as the bill's sponsors worked together to incorporate 10 Republican amendments, joined by some Democrats, and it is a better bill now than it has ever been.

My Republican colleagues, for more than a year, have been asking: Please let us vote again on Keystone. I personally oppose Keystone. I think it is really bad to make oil out of the most dirty carbon stuff there is, to ship it clear across the United States, and then to ship it overseas, which is what they would like to do. I oppose that. But if Republicans think it would help get energy efficiency passed, let's vote on it, and that is what I have told everybody.

If they want a vote on Keystone, that was the agreement they made, let us have a vote on Keystone, and then let the bill that was sponsored by 14 Democrats and Republicans--7 of each--to move forward. I want to be very clear with my Republican colleagues. The Keystone vote is on the table if they will simply stand by the agreement they had a week ago with me. All it would do is to allow the Senate to move forward with a bipartisan energy efficiency bill.

The Republicans have stated and stated and stated they want a vote on Keystone. Good, let's take a vote on Keystone. Can't they take yes for an answer? The answer is: No.

We are involved in this shell game. If seven of my Democrats made an agreement with the Republican leader, I think it would be untoward of me to go to those Democratic Senators and say--for base politics--drop the approval of what you believe in.

We have been through this before. There is no better example of that than the Transportation appropriations bill led by Chairman Murray and Ranking Member Collins. They worked so hard on that--lots of work they did on it. Amendments were offered. But do you know what happened? The Republican leader said: We are not going to pass that, and we didn't. That is when Ranking Member Collins said: I have never known--I am paraphrasing, but this isn't far from an exact quote--I have never known a leader to work so hard against one of their own.

All we are asking is for Republicans to drop their filibuster of this bipartisan bill sponsored by 14 Democrats and Republicans. The bill is supported by the Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable, the National Association of Manufacturers, and many others.

Sadly, the Republican leader has said, in effect, if he can't get everything he wants--and right now that is a moving target--the Republicans who worked on this bill are out of luck. This is not the spirit of compromise in which this body is supposed to operate, but unfortunately it is what we hear all too often from my friend the Republican leader--nothing but endless obstruction and gridlock.

I know many Republicans are unhappy with the way things have been going. They talk to me. I am sure part of it is just to get this off their chest, but they want to change things around here. My message to them is: The only thing standing in the way of our moving forward on energy efficiency or other bipartisan legislation is to move forward on it. And if Keystone is the object of what they want done, let's get it done.

I hope my Republican colleagues will think hard in the coming days about the right thing to do. Do they want to continue waging obstruction, as we have seen on minimum wage and on pay equity? We know the right answer is that we should move forward, and I hope in the days ahead we will come together. It is really for the American people.

Mr. President, it is my understanding the motion to proceed to H.R. 3474 is now pending.


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