July 21, 2008

Senate Democrats:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will introduce The Advance America's Priorities Act, otherwise known as the "Coburn holds" package. The following is Senator Reid's statement on the bill as prepared for delivery:

Mr. President, today I am joining with Senators Leahy, Lieberman, Feinstein, Inouye, Kennedy, Boxer, and Biden, to introduce an important bill, with provisions in a variety of areas - from advancing medical research in critical areas, to cracking down on child exploitation, to promoting important U.S. foreign policy goals, to helping improve America's understanding about the oceans. What unites this diverse package of bills? One thing - unprecedented obstructionism.

The bills in this package include initiatives that have broad bipartisan support. Initiatives that have passed the House by 411 to 3; by 422 to 2; by 416 to 0. Many of these initiatives had such strong bipartisan support that they passed the House and Senate Committee by voice vote or even by unanimous consent.

Under normal circumstances, they would have passed the Senate through a simplified and expedited unanimous consent process and become law. Maybe some would have required a period of brief debate before passing the Senate.

But, instead of allowing the will of the Congress and the American people to be heard, Republicans have obstructed one bill after another. Here are just a few examples of the legislation that this bill includes - and that Republicans are preventing from becoming law:

The Emmitt Till Unsolved Crimes bill: Would help heal old wounds and solve crimes that have continued to be unsolved and unpunished since the Civil Rights era.

The Runaway and Homeless Youth bill: Would provide grants for health care, education and workforce programs, and housing programs for runaways and homeless youth.

The Combating Child Exploitation bill: Would provide grants to train law enforcement to use technology to track individuals who trade child pornography. Establishes an Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force within the Office of Justice Programs.

The ALS Registry bill: Would create a centralized database to help doctors and scientists treat and hopefully find a cure for ALS/Lou Gehrig 's Disease, which afflicts 5,600 Americans every year.

The Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Act: Would enhance cooperation in research, rehabilitation and quality of life for people who suffer from paralysis. Not only will this bill accelerate the discovery of better treatments and cures, but help improve the daily lives of the two million Americans who await a cure.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. These bills address important American priorities, have broad - virtually unanimous -- bipartisan support, yet, all have fallen victim to just one or two Republicans.

Senate Democrats are not willing to allow this obstruction of a few to block the will of the Congress and the American people any longer. Republicans will have a choice: Will they join the side of the American people, or continue to stand beside one or two colleagues intent on blocking progress? I hope Republicans will end their obstruction and work with Democrats this week to pass this crucial and long-overdue legislation. Read on...

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