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On the day after President Obama told Senate Democrats that history will remember their role in reforming America's health care system, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid went to the Senate floor to make a more pointed historic argument.
"It amazes me that the Minority Leader rejects that what we're doing is truly historic," Reid said, referring to Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. "I am confident that history will prove the Republican leader wrong."
Reid then went on to compare the health care debate to other noble battles in American history, including the war to end slavery, and likened the Republican opposition to health care reform to other failed efforts to stop progress in America.
"This is indeed historic and I'm not afraid to say it is," Reid said. "But instead of joining us on the right side of history, all Republicans can come up with is, 'Slow down, stop everything, start over.'
"If you think you've heard these excuses before, you're right. When this country belatedly recognized the wrongs of slavery, there were those who dug in their heels and said, "Slow down, it's too early, things aren't bad enough.'" Reid added the women's suffrage movement and the fight for civil rights to the list of fights that overcame even the staunchest opposition. "History is repeating itself before our eyes....If not now when?" Reid asked rhetorically.
Republicans pounced on Reid's speech. GOP Chairman Michael Steele called Reid's comments "absurd and offensive," while Brian Walsh, spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, called on Reid to apologize. "It is unconscionable for Reid to link his unpopular health care bill to the atrocity of slavery, and he should immediately take to the Senate floor and issue an apology for this offensive and outrageous analogy," Walsh said.
Speaking of history, Reid did not mention that it was of course, Republican President Abraham Lincoln who led the fight to end slavery through the Civil War.
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