Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) lashed out at the Tea Party on Friday, saying it was holding back the economy to hurt President Obama.
Speaking on the Senate floor a day after Obama’s address to a joint session of Congress, Reid ripped Tea Party Republicans’ “radical agenda” and called on centrist Republicans to join Democrats in passing Obama’s jobs plan.
“We must not continue to bow to the Tea Party Republicans willing to do anything to hurt the president. [We] cannot allow their radical agenda to crowd out America’s jobs agenda.”
The morning after Obama’s jobs push, Democrats were making a full-court press to back him.
Besides Reid’s floor speech, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is expected to tout Obama’s plan at a Friday news conference. On Thursday, she urged her caucus to pressure GOP committee chairmen in the House to schedule hearings and legislative work on Obama’s plan.
Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), ranking member on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, did exactly that on Friday, urging committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) to schedule work on the president’s jobs agenda.
Obama himself will speak Friday in Richmond, Va., to advocate his $447 billion jobs plan, which includes tax cuts, new spending measures and an extension of unemployment benefits.
Democrats are demanding that Republicans give Obama’s package an up or down vote.
Rep. John Larson (Conn.), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said carving the bill up and passing the portions both sides could agree upon would represent a punt that would likely undermine the public’s faith in Congress to work out difficult problems.
“The public perceives that as kicking the can down the road and not stepping up,” Larson said during a brief news briefing Friday. “[Obama’s] got a plan. He’s laid it out there. What is the problem with voting it up or down?”
Reid said the Tea Party was opposing Obama’s plan for “political reasons,” motives he described as “sad.”
Reid then implied that the far right in Congress is working to dampen the nation’s economy in an effort to increase its chances in the 2012 presidential election.
This story was last updated at 11:35 a.m.
Mike Lillis contributed to this story.