Category Archives: (Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid

Let’s Move Outside! with First Lady Michelle Obama at Red Rock Canyon

Posted by: Audiegrl
Written by Assistant Secretary Rhea Suh

Junior rangers Isabella Davis and Paige Owens (L), and First Lady Michelle Obama and Sen. Harry Reid, (D-NV) participate in a mountain stretch during an event to help launch Obama's Let's Move Outside! initiative to promote more outdoor activity for children June 1, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Let's Move Outside! is a part of the first lady's Let's Move! initiative aimed at solving the problem of childhood obesity. (Photo by Pool/Getty Images North America)

Yesterday, I was fortunate to join First Lady Michelle Obama, Representative Dina Titus and Senator Harry Reid at the launch of Let’s Move Outside! in the spectacular Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area of Southern Nevada. The Canyon is just a short drive from the bustle of the Las Vegas Strip; this 197,000 acre property takes you to another time and with its solitude, wide open vistas and soaring red sandstone cliffs. Red Rock Canyon is one of only sixteen National Landscape Conservation Areas in the country, managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

This amazing backdrop was the perfect setting for the First Lady’s to announce a new component of her Let’s Move! campaign — Let’s Move Outside! As the first lady said in her remarks:

Our overall goal for “Let’s Move Outside” is to really get our kids active so that they make it a habit of moving around and seeing the activity they need not as a chore but as a fun way to explore our country and to do some things they haven’t done.

Doctors, teachers, and other professionals  agree that outdoor activity is one of the easiest and most fun ways to get – and stay – fit. And boy, did we have fun!

Twenty energetic kids from nearby elementary schools joined us for the afternoon’s activities. The First Lady and Senator Reid led the group in a series of geology stretches. Then, we all hiked over to a sandstone slope, where we watched some able rangers guide kids on a “rock scramble.” Even though it was a steep climb, the pay-off at the top was terrific — a panoramic view of the canyon as far as the eye could see. Finally, children were sworn in by First Lady Michelle Obama as official Let’s Move Outside! Junior Rangers, capping off an afternoon of adventure, exercise, and good cheer.

There are no better places for America’s children to get moving than in the parks, trails, and waters in all of our communities. Whether you are walking, hiking, swimming, horseback riding, or mountain biking –America’s public lands have a wide range of affordable activities and adventures for every family. These lands are America’s backyard—they are owned by everyone in this country and provide opportunities to get outside in every state, county, and city in the country.

The Department of Interior and the U.S. Forest Service will be hosting Let’s Move Outside! events across the country during the summer months. We will engage partners across the public and private sectors to expand access to these places and connect American families to our great big collective backyard. Check out the Let’s Move! website to find opportunities to get outside and have fun today!

Rhea Suh is Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management & Budget

Full Remarks by the First Lady at “Let’s Move Outside” event with Senator Harry Reid

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First Lady Michelle Obama Speaks at the 2010 Women’s Summit in Reno, Nevada

Posted by: Audiegrl
Written by Kori Schulman

First Lady Michelle Obama greets the crowd after making remarks at the Women's Summit with Senator Harry Reid in Reno, Nevada. June 1, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)


Today First Lady Michelle Obama traveled to Reno, Nevada where she delivered the keynote address to the 2010 Women’s Summit. The Summit, hosted by Senator Harry Reid, brought together a diverse group of women from across the country to talk about the issues that impact their lives as women and as Americans.

In her remarks, Mrs. Obama used the example of health care to illustrate women’s unique and increasingly significant role when it comes to keeping families healthy:

Eight in 10 mothers report that they’re the ones responsible for choosing their children’s doctors, taking them to the appointments, managing follow-up care. And many women are making the same decisions for their spouses. And more than 10 percent of women in this country are currently taking care of a sick or elderly relative, often a parent, and making critical health care decisions for them as well.

But women aren’t just disproportionately affected because of the role we play in our family, we’re also affected because the jobs we do are more likely to be part-time or in small businesses, jobs that are — less likely provide health insurance. Women are more likely to be denied coverage because of so called preexisting conditions like having a C-section or a previous pregnancy. In some cases, insurance plans don’t cover basis women’s health services like maternity care or preventative care for mammograms and Pap smears. And a recent study showed that 25-year-old women are charged up to 84 percent more than 25-year-old men for the same coverage. And at age 40, it’s 40 percent more — for the exact same coverage.

Now, we know this is unacceptable. It is unacceptable for women. It’s unacceptable for families. And it is unacceptable for our country.

And that’s part of the reason why so many people fought so hard to pass health reform this year. Under the new law, starting this year, insurance companies will never again be allowed to deny children coverage because of preexisting conditions.

In closing, the First Lady noted that while issues like health care, the economy or caring for families may affect women in particular, they aren’t just women’s issues:

When insurance companies deny coverage to women for preexisting conditions or refuse to cover treatment, it can devastate an entire family. When women make less than men for the same work, that hurts families who find themselves with less income and have to work harder just to get by. And when employers don’t allow employees the flexibility to care for their family, that hurts children, it hurts grandparents, it hurts husbands, and it puts a strain on an entire household.

But the good news is that thanks to so many extraordinary women who came before us, we’ve really come a long way. We know that all of us are here today because of all those generations who put in that time, who packed up their things, and staked their claims in places here, and who cracked and shattered those glass ceilings so that we could have opportunities that they never dreamed of.

And we know that it will be up to all of you — the leaders, the activists, the visionaries, the organizers, the everyday women, to carry that work forward, because what we’re working towards — all of us — is to ensure that our daughters and our granddaughters can dream just a little bigger and reach just a little higher than we did. That’s really why I’m here.

So what I can promise is that if you keep the discussion going, and if all of you keep fighting and organizing and standing up for the causes that we all share, then I know that together — together — we will keep moving forward, not just as women, but as Americans.

So I really, truly, can’t express to you how grateful we are for your leadership. We look to you for that energy, so don’t ever stop. Keep it up. And thank you. Thank you for all your support and your hard work.

Looking for more stories on the First Lady? Check out our brand new section: FLOTUS: All Things Michelle Obama

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Republicans and Ben Nelson (D-Nebraska) Vote As Bloc To Filibuster Wall Street Bill

Posted by: Audiegrl

Undaunted by a Senate setback, Democrats appeared increasingly confident Monday they will be able to take advantage of Americans’ anger at Wall Street and push through the most sweeping new controls on financial institutions since the Great Depression.

The Senate, in a 57-41 vote, failed to get the 60 supporters needed to proceed on the regulatory overhaul. One Democrat, Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, joined with the Republicans.

But the evening vote was just part of a legislative ballet keeping bipartisan talks alive. At the end, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid switched his vote to “no,” too, but that was just a maneuver that will enable him to call for a new tally as early as Tuesday.

Democrats believe that public pressure and the scent of a Wall Street scandal have given them the upper hand. Republicans themselves have taken up the Democrats’ Wall Street-bashing rhetoric and have voiced hope that a bill will ultimately pass. In that light, the path to final approval seems clearer than it ever did during the contentious debate over health care.

Statement by President Obama on Financial Reform

“I am deeply disappointed that Senate Republicans voted in a block against allowing a public debate on Wall Street reform to begin. Some of these Senators may believe that this obstruction is a good political strategy, and others may see delay as an opportunity to take this debate behind closed doors, where financial industry lobbyists can water down reform or kill it altogether. But the American people can’t afford that. A lack of consumer protections and a lack of accountability on Wall Street nearly brought our economy to its knees, and helped cause the pain that has left millions of Americans without jobs and without homes. The reform that both parties have been working on for a year would prevent a crisis like this from happening again, and I urge the Senate to get back to work and put the interests of the country ahead of party.”

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Filed under (Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid, Banking, Democrats, Economy, Pres. Barack Obama, Republicans, Senate, Uncategorized

Senate will have to return health bill to House

AP~A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says the bill making changes in President Barack Obama’s newly enacted health care overhaul will have to go back to the House for final congressional approval, something top Democrats were trying to avoid.

Spokesman Jim Manley said Republicans consulting with the Senate parliamentarian had found “two minor provisions” that violate budget rules. The two provisions, dealing with Pell grants for low-income college students, will have to be removed from the bill.

Once those provisions are deleted and the Senate passes the measure, the House will have to approve the legislation before sending it to Obama for his signature. Manley said he was confident the House would do so with no problems.

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President Barack Obama Signs Historic Health Care Reform Legislation

Posted by: Audiegrl

This is What Change Looks Like~President Barack Obama

More than a year’s worth of intense political haggling, legislative maneuvering and emotional debate reached its stirring conclusion Tuesday morning as President Barack Obama officially signed health care reform legislation into law.

Speaking in the East Room of the White House, with roughly 200 lawmakers seated before him as well as Vicky Kennedy, the widow of the late Senator Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), the president called the moment a “new season in America.”

Today, after almost a century of trying, today, after over a year of debate, today, after all the votes have been tallied, health insurance reform becomes law in the United States of America. In a few moments when I sign this bill, all of the overheated rhetoric of reform will finally confront the reality of reform.”

We are not a nation that scales back its aspirations,” Obama said. “We don’t fall prey to fear. We are not a nation that does what’s easy. That is not who we are, that’s not how we got here. We are a nation that faces its challenges and accepts its responsibilities.”

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Patrick Kennedy's note on his father's grave: Dad, the unfinished business is done. (Photo: John Dicker)

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Hallelujah! by Paul Begala

Posted by: BuellBoy

Op-ed by Paul Begala

Democratic Strategist, Paul Begala

HP~I have been working for Democratic and progressive causes for 29 years, and I don’t think I’ve ever been prouder than today. When David Obey swung that gavel — the same gavel used to hammer home Medicare — and struck it on that historic rostrum, it made a joyful noise unto the Lord. And I for one said Hallelujah.

There is no doubt the sweeping changes enacted today will create unforeseen problems — that is the nature of reform. The one law Congress can never overturn is the Law of Unintended Consequences. But that’s why our Founders challenged us to “form a more perfect Union,” because true perfection is not possible this side of heaven. Instead, we work to improve, to make progress, to renew.

The merits of the health care law have been debated ad nauseum. I will not revisit them here. Rather, I want to take a moment to salute the raw courage of the women and men who made this possible.

Primus inter pares must be Nancy Pelosi. The House Speaker, so vilified by the right, so caricatured by the press, has etched her name in marble. She has accomplished what no other Speaker could — not Uncle Joe Cannon, not Mister Sam Rayburn, not Tip or Newt nor any of her predecessors. Health care reform was dead after Scott Brown’s remarkable Senate victory in Massachusetts. But Speaker Pelosi would not let it die. The greatest single reason this bill will become law is because of the sheer force of will, the remarkable political skill, and the legislative mastery of Nancy Pelosi. If there were a Mt. Rushmore for House Speakers, her pleasant grin and steely eyes would be on it.

Harry Reid, too, worked wonders. In order to overcome a Republican filibuster, Reid had to bat 1.000 — corral all 58 Senate Democrats and two Independents. Former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott called the job “herding cats.” Harry Reid, through quiet consultation, respectful negotiation and rare grit pulled off a Christmas miracle, mustering 60 votes for health care reform on Christmas Eve.

Pelosi and Reid did all this in the teeth of naysayers and cheap-shot artists who were counseling caution and urging capitulation.

The so-called “Dean” of the Washington press corps, David Broder, told Politico that Reid was not in the same class as revered leaders like Mike Mansfield. “Maybe I have an idealized view of what a Senate leader ought to be,” he said. “But I’ve seen the Senate when a leader could lift it to those heights…I wish it had that kind of leadership now.”

In a sense, Broder’s right. In 1968, Mansfield presided over a majority of 68 Democrats — 68. And Senate Republicans included such giants of bipartisanship as Everett McKinley Dirksen, who played a crucial role in passing the Civil Rights Act. And yet even Mansfield could not pass universal health care. With just 58 senators of his party, Reid did what Mansfield could not do with 68 — and he did it with a GOP dominated by implacable obstructionists who have used the filibuster more in two years than the GOP of Mansfield era did in decades.

To be sure, this is an enormous, historic victory for Pres. Obama. He refused to trim his sails, refused to cut and run, refused to cave in to the timid souls of the commentariat and the hatemongers of the kook right. His cool courage, his dogged determination, his fearless focus are now the stuff of history.

One cannot see this history unfold and not think of those who paved the way. John Dingell, the valiant congressman from Michigan, has been fighting for national health care for 54 years — and his father before him sponsored national health care legislation in 1935. Speaker Pelosi and her Democrats stand tall today because they stand on the shoulders of Dingell and other giants.

In the Senate, Harry Reid and his fellow Democrats stand on the shoulders of Ted Kennedy. Teddy fought for national health care when Reagan was saying government would screw up a one-car parade. His energy, passion and compassion inspired several generations of Democrats.

And, of course, my old boss Bill Clinton. He was 50 minutes late for the Gridiron Dinner the night before the historic vote. For his tardiness he was privately and bitterly excoriated by a very famous journalist, but this time Clinton was necessarily detained: President Obama had him on the phone, asking for help on a last list of wavering Democrats. Clinton, of course, was happy to help. He, too, shed blood and political capital in the cause of health care reform. He confidently told the media elite: “I am proud to stick up for this President and his Administration. Let me tell you something: they are going to pass health care reform, ladies and gentlemen. Maybe not in my lifetime or Dick Cheney’s, but, hopefully, by Easter.” Pres. Obama, too, stands on the shoulders of Clinton, two Roosevelts, Truman and Carter, Kennedy and Johnson.

But amidst all this history there is still politics. Let’s be realistic: Both history and the economy dictate Democratic losses in November. But passing health care will, I am sure, help mitigate the losses. First because the bill does real good for real people right away: a $500 down payment on the Donut Hole for seniors’ medication, the right to carry your adult children on your health insurance until they turn 27, an end to annual caps and lifetime limits, an end to rescissions, a high-risk pool for those too young for Medicare and too middle-class for Medicaid. Second, the only way to disprove the false charges from the Republicans is to actually live under the new law. There will be no death panels. There is no government takeover.

The vast majority of Americans will continue to have the health care they like — but the biggest difference is the insurance company will no longer be able to cancel it as they can now. Failure on health care would have depressed the Democratic vote and disgusted independents, who would have concluded Democrats can’t run the government.

Let the Republicans campaign on repealing this. Why not campaign on repealing Medicare, too? They called that socialized medicine. Why aren’t Scott Brown or Mitt Romney calling for repeal of the Massachusetts health care law (upon which this bill is based)?

Nothing succeeds like success. Or, as George S. Patton said to the 6th Armored Division of the Third Army in 1944: “Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser.” Today the Republicans are losers, and the Democrats — and every American who worries about getting sick and getting dumped by their insurance company — are the winners.

Paul Begala is a political commentator providing insight “from the left” on CNN’s programs including Inside Politics.

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Democrats Pass Historic Health Care Legislation

President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and senior staff applaud in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, as the House passes the health care reform bill, March 21, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

In the video below, Speaker Pelosi and other House Democrats march over to begin their series of votes on health care reform. Pelosi is carrying the gavel used when the House voted to pass Medicare in 1965; it was provided by Rep. John Dingell, the longest serving member of Congress in history, whose father presided over the 1965 vote. At Pelosi’s side were Georgia congressman and civil rights-era leader John Lewis and her close friend Rep. David Obey (D-Wisc.).

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One More Step Towards Health Insurance Reform

Today, the President announced that he will be issuing an executive order after the passage of the health insurance reform law that will reaffirm its consistency with longstanding restrictions on the use of federal funds for abortion.

While the legislation as written maintains current law, the executive order provides additional safeguards to ensure that the status quo is upheld and enforced, and that the health care legislation’s restrictions against the public funding of abortions cannot be circumvented.

The President has said from the start that this health insurance reform should not be the forum to upset longstanding precedent. The health care legislation and this executive order are consistent with this principle.

The President is grateful for the tireless efforts of leaders on both sides of this issue to craft a consensus approach that allows the bill to move forward.

Text of the pending executive order

President Barack Obama talks on the phone with a Member of Congress in the Chief of Staff 's office at the White House, March 21, 2010. From left, aides Phil Schiliro, Sean Sweeney, Rahm Emanuel, Jim Messina, and DanTurton. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

CBS News White House correspondent Mark Knoller writes, “Anticipating victory, Pres. Obama to make East Room statement tonight after House final passage of health care reform legislation.” The White House says Obama will make a statement no matter how or when the vote takes place, either tonight or early Monday.

Fox News’ Major Garrett said the White House will likely not have a public signing ceremony when the President signs the Senate bill — the public event will take place after the Senate finally passes the reconciliation fixes.

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