Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Reid Blasts Do-Nothing Republican Congress

Reports coming from Senate offices indicate that Democrats will today offer a sense of the Senate resolution that goes beyond expressing no confidence in Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and also expresses a formal lack of confidence in the Bush administration's national security policies.

I have no further information at this time, but look for more on that today…

Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) took to the floor of the Senate immediately upon their return to session yesterday, blasted the Republican leadership for "setting records for doing nothing" and
urged Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) to change course in addressing the real security issues confronting the United States.

Reid reminded the chamber that, all other business considered, the Senate has roughly 12 days left to get something real accomplished for the American people before the scheduled adjournment on October 6.

"In a normal year and a normal Congress, it would be an enormous challenge to complete — in 12 days — the work the Senate needs to address." said Reid. "In this Do Nothing Republican Congress, it is Mission Impossible."

Here's more from Reid:

On the domestic front, the start of the new fiscal year is just a few weeks away, and the Senate has yet to pass a single appropriations conference report – much less a budget!

With millions of children returning to school this week, this Republican-controlled Congress has yet to pass the education funding bill. In addition, there are middle-class tax breaks that have expired and need to be extended, a Medicare prescription drug bill that needs to be fixed, legislation to make government more accountable to the people and less beholden to the special interests hat has yet to be sent to the President’s desk, and crises in health care and energy that are begging for the Senate’s attention.

12 days. 12 days to do all of these things.

On the national security front, just as much work remains.

With a nation at war and still vulnerable five years after 9/11, we have yet to pass the defense and homeland security bills. Because of delays and games by this Republican Congress, our borders remain open and immigration reform remains stalled. There’s also port security legislation to be considered, a Phase II investigation that has yet to be finished, and matters in both the War on Terror and the War in Iraq that demand our urgent attention.

Twelve days to finish all this work. And do you know what. It appears we are not even going to try to finish the work. The Republican-dominated Congress is not even going to try to finish this work.

Reid also went after Frist on wasting so much of the Senate's time in the 109th Congress on ridiculous wedge issues saying that "the weeks in June and July were given to the marriage amendment and then flag desecration -- two of the least pressing issues facing Americans today."

And, of course, Reid took the Senate leadership and the White House to task for their utter failure to address the real security threats facing the country:
Five years after 9/11 America is less safe than it should be. Today, only 5 or 6 percent of our ports are secure; cargo containers, 5 percent. Our chemical plants are vulnerable to attack. Our first responders do not have the materials to be the best they could be.

Interoperability all over America is not there. The man responsible for 9/11, Osama bin Laden, remains on the loose. The recommendations of the 9/11 Commission have been ignored by the administration.

Democrats have a better plan to keep America safe. It is called real security. It is tough, it is smart, and, as we laid out in a letter to President Bush yesterday, it starts by doing what the other side has refused to do: change course in Iraq.

While Iraq was not part of the war on terror before we invaded, today it is emboldening terrorists and recruiting new ones. For 2 years, the Republicans have been content to say "stay the course" in Iraq. They have stood with President Bush when he says: We're not leaving Iraq as long as I'm President.

That is wrong. They may think it is smart political strategy, but we know from what is happening around the world it is a failed security policy. Each day this Republican Government stays the course in Iraq, America grows less safe.
You can read more from the prepared text of Senator Reid's speech here.