"Influenced by these Tea Party voices, Republicans forced us to waste months on routine legislation that nearly shut down our government and held hostage the full faith and credit of the United States," said Reid referring to the bitter debt-ceiling fight that consumed much of last summer. 

Reid went on to say he hoped that this year Republicans would desist from turning the mundane elements of governing into battles that threaten to shut down the government. 

"I remind my Republican colleagues that not every discussion, every matter that we deal with should collapse into a fight," he said. "We don't have to fight about everything."

Reid also pointed out, however, that with presidential elections just around the corner, it seems unlikely that the partisan spirit that prevailed last year will slacken.