By Alexander Bolton - 10/12/11 07:21 PM EDT
The chamber's majority leader, Sen. Harry ReidHarry ReidNearly 400 House bills stuck in Senate limbo Puerto Rico debt relief faces serious challenges in Senate McCain files B amendment to boost defense spending MORE (D-Nev.), last week called for a joint caucus to give senators a chance to voice frustrations with the lack of cooperation in the chamber. Reid sparked a firestorm when he and members of the Democratic Caucus unilaterally changed Senate precedent, denying Republicans a chance to force a vote on President Obama’s jobs package as it was originally drafted.
Reid said he changed the rule to halt the use of dilatory tactics after the Senate votes to move to final passage of a bill.
“The first thing we need to do is to demonstrate that we can do things together that is important for the country,” said McConnell, noting the Senate would vote Wednesday evening on the trade agreements, which are expected to win bipartisan approval.
McConnell said he also expects solid bipartisan support for three appropriations bills that Reid plans to bring next to the Senate floor: legislation funding the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Justice and Transportation.
“We should be able to move those three appropriations across the floor. I expect most members on both sides are going to be voting for them — I think, the best way to generate bipartisan cooperation for which there is bipartisan support,” McConnell said.
“I think both sides agree we ought to do the appropriations bills, the basic work of government. We don’t have a whole lot of time before the end of this year. We need to get at it,” he said.