Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) took to the Senate floor Monday to point out debt ceiling negotiations had been tough but Congress worked as it was intended.
“I know that there are all kinds of pundits and commentators who talk about how the system is broken,” Reid said. “I want to take just a few minutes and historically review what our country’s all about… The Founding Fathers built into the legislative branch of government, purposely, conflict because they believed that that would be enough to offset the power of the judicial and executive branches of government. Over the years, things have been much worse than they have been in Washington in the last three months.”
He continued: “In the early days of our country, there was conflict that went on all the time… One congressman and senator, Henry Clay from Kentucky, he was known as the great compromiser. He worked for generations, plural, to see what he could do to stop the dissolution of the republic, and he was successful. Difficult, they had difficult times. One member of the House of Representatives was enraged because Charles Sumner was anti-slavery… Congressman Brooks came to the floor, came to the Senate with his cane and beat Senator Sumner, beat him with his cane. Senator Sumner never really recovered.”
“There was tremendous acrimony as a result of that issue dealing with civil rights, but we worked through that. We worked through that. It was hard. People at that time thought the Congress was broken. Congress was not broken. Congress works the way that it should. Does that mean it’s always a very pleasant, happy place? No. And do I wish it weren’t as difficult as it has been the last few months? I wish it were much better than that. But that’s where we are. But through all the years, through all the conflicts we’ve had, we’ve been able to come together and reach a reasonable conclusion.”
Reid later added that “no one got what they wanted” with the proposed debt deal. “Everyone had to give something up. People on the right are upset, people on the left are upset, people in the middle are upset.”
Watch this video from the C-SPAN, broadcast Aug. 1, 2011.