(Senate - July 20, 2011)

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[Pages S4681-S4682]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                              DEBT DEFAULT

  Mr. REID. Madam President, there is a fundamental principle we have 
to focus on in the Senate, and I think we have focused on it; that is, 
we cannot default on our debt. We have 11 or 12 days until that crucial 
time comes. We have a number of plans that are being talked about here. 
We have a path forward in the Senate, we believe. There is the Gang of 
6, which reported some encouraging news yesterday. We have President 
Obama's grand plan that has been talked about a lot.
  So now we return to the roots of what this country is all about; that 
is, our constitutional form of government. The Founding Fathers 
uniquely--when they finally figured out a way to do the Constitution, 
the breakthrough was in June of 1787, the so-called Grand Compromise, 
when a member of the Constitutional Convention from Connecticut came up 
with the idea of a bicameral legislature. No one had ever thought about 
that before, that we would have a system of government with three 
branches--executive, judicial, and legislative. No one had ever 
considered having anything other than a parliamentary form of 
  But our Founding Fathers came up with a new idea, and that new idea 
was to have within the legislative branch of government two Houses; one 
based strictly on population and one based on the same number of 
Senators from each State. That took care of the big problem they had 
with New York--big, massive New York, with a lot of area and lots of 
people--and little, tiny Rhode Island--not much area and not many 
  The reason I say we return to our roots is we are not going to be 
able to do the fundamental principle that guides this country in the 
last 11 or 12 days of this legislative session; that is, we cannot 
default on our debt. We in the Senate can have the greatest ideas in 
the world, but if they are not accepted in the House we cannot extend 
the debt ceiling, which we have to do.
  So now we await the House of Representatives. With our bicameral form 
of legislature, that is what we must do. We know they know time is of 
the essence. We know all of the partisanship that has been shown in the 
House of Representatives, including their spending so much time on this 
plan they call cap, cut, and balance--which others have called cut, 
cap, and destroy Medicare, and all the other names this program has 
been given--and we have to get now where we work on something that is 
important and has an opportunity to pass.
  Everyone knew, the Republican leadership knew that did not stand a

[[Page S4682]]

chance over here. That is why, with this most important issue we are 
facing; that is, not defaulting on our debt, they have to become real 
and send something over to us or we will send something to them or 
agree in the interim to something that will extend the debt.
  As most know, I have worked hard in trying to figure a way through 
all this. Others have worked just as hard as I have. Right now, I am at 
a point where I am saying we need to hear from the House of 
Representatives. We have a plan to go forward over here. But until we 
hear from the House of Representatives, all of our work here would be 
for naught.
  So I await the word from the Speaker. He indicated that he thought it 
would be appropriate they get this other matter out of the way first. I 
look forward to working on this.
  I had a terrific conversation with the President last night. He 
understands the issue as well as anyone in the country, if not more so, 
because the buck does stop at his desk. So I tell all Senators to be 
calm and deliberate. I am confident we will be able to work our way 
through this very difficult time. But we are at this stage depending on 
the House of Representatives to help us find a path forward.