GOP senators angry about Reid claim that they're rooting for economic failure

GOP senators angry about Reid claim that they're rooting for economic failure

Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidSenate GOP breaks record on confirming Trump picks for key court Don’t worry (too much) about Kavanaugh changing the Supreme Court Dem infighting erupts over Supreme Court pick MORE, who is trying to bring comity back to the upper chamber, has broken protocol by accusing Republicans of rooting for the economy to fail. 

The accusations from the blunt Nevada Democrat have irritated Republicans, and complicated Reid’s effort to hold a bipartisan meeting with senators in the near future. 

In the Senate, where lawmakers routinely address their adversaries as “my friend,” Reid’s attack on GOP motives is a jarring break from traditional decorum. 

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Reid said Republican opposition to President Obama’s $447 billion jobs bill is based purely on politics, and has cited their votes against the measure as evidence they want to slow the national recovery.

“Republicans oppose those ideas now because they have a proven track record of creating jobs, and Republicans think if the economy improves it might help President Obama,” Reid said last week on the Senate floor. 

“So they root for the economy to fail, and oppose every effort to improve it. And they resist anything the president proposes, no matter how common-sense, including this plan to create 2 million jobs,” he said. 

A Senate Democratic aide made no attempt to walk back Reid’s comments.

“Sen. Reid speaks his mind,” said the aide.

A growing number of Democrats, especially junior members of the caucus, are growing impatient with the chamber’s atmosphere of genteel deadlock. 

Their rising irritation has emboldened them to join Reid in pointedly questioning the GOP’s intentions, something that would have been unthinkable in the recent past.

Sen. Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinJuan Williams: Putin wins as GOP spins Senate passes resolution honoring victims of Capital Gazette shooting Biden rallies Dem support for progressive Md. governor candidate MORE (D-Md.) said Reid’s description is accurate of some Republicans, but added that others have expressed interest in supporting bipartisan jobs legislation.

“Some Republicans — they look at everything through the lens of how it affects them politically, and that element is gaining more influence in the Republican Conference.” 

Sen. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseSenate Dems protest vote on controversial court pick Who is Andrew Wheeler, EPA's new acting chief? Congress can protect midterm elections with the Disclose Act MORE (D-R.I.) said, “I’ll take Harry’s word for it.” 

 Senate Democratic Whip Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinDeal to fix family separations hits snag in the Senate Senate Democrats block resolution supporting ICE Senate Dems press for info on any deals from Trump-Putin meeting MORE (Ill.) likewise agrees with Reid.

“Since the Republicans are not offering any jobs plan with any credibility to it, you have to say to them: ‘Do you really care?’ ” he said. 

“If they do care, they should be helping us, working together with us, supporting the president. Unfortunately, too many of them just decided to say no, vote no, and that’s not going to help us create a thriving economy,” Durbin added. 

Durbin said he’s afraid some Republican senators are putting politics ahead of the economy and could end up becoming a “downward force” in the recovery. 

Senate Republicans reject Reid’s claim. They say it is the majority leader who is playing politics by bringing up jobs legislation paid for with tax increases on income over $1 million. 

“It’s ironic how he’s making these charges but he brings up pieces of the president’s proposal that he knows will draw objections from the other side,” said a senior GOP aide. “If anyone’s strategy puts politics over jobs, it’s his.”

To back up their accusations, Senate Democrats repeatedly refer to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate GOP breaks record on confirming Trump picks for key court Senate Democrats block resolution supporting ICE The Hill's Morning Report — Trump’s walk-back fails to stem outrage on Putin meeting MORE’s (Ky.) statement in October 2010 that his highest priority is to make Obama a one-term president.

McConnell’s spokesman has since clarified that defeating Obama is his boss’s top political goal. 

This summer, McConnell denied that his party is trying to torpedo the economy: “[I]n 2012 ... our biggest goal for this year is to get this country straightened out.

“Our goal is to have a robust, vibrant economy,” he added.

Reid, who has a good working relationship with McConnell, has been criticizing Republicans while trying to mend fences with them. His move to change the Senate’s rules earlier this month infuriated Republicans, who dubbed it “the nuclear option.” 

Reid has been pushing a bipartisan caucus meeting to give lawmakers on both sides of the aisle a chance to talk out their frustrations.

McConnell has yet to respond to the overture.

Over the last several weeks, Reid has argued that Republicans have supported pieces of the president’s jobs package in the past, including its centerpiece, a $240 billion extension of the payroll tax holiday. 

McConnell floated the possibility of a payroll tax cut as an alternative to Obama’s economic stimulus proposal in early 2009. Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainEx-Montenegro leader fires back at Trump: ‘Strangest president' in history McCain: Trump plays into 'Putin's hands' by attacking Montenegro, questioning NATO obligations Joe Lieberman urges voters to back Crowley over Ocasio-Cortez in general MORE (R-Ariz.) said at the time it would be “very stimulative right away.” 

At the beginning of last year, Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchDon't place all your hopes — or fears — on a new Supreme Court justice The Hill's Morning Report — Trump’s walk-back fails to stem outrage on Putin meeting On The Money: Fed chief lays out risks of trade war | Senate floats new Russia sanctions amid Trump backlash | House passes bill to boost business investment MORE (Utah), the ranking Republican on the Finance Committee, praised the proposal to give employers tax breaks for hiring new workers as “reasonable” and a “conservative” strategy for spurring the economy. 

Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamTrump’s damage control falters Trump: 'I think I did great at the news conference' George Will calls Trump ‘sad, embarrassing wreck of a man’ MORE (R-S.C.) have co-sponsored Sen. John KerryJohn Forbes KerryJohn Kerry: Trump 'surrendered lock, stock and barrel' to Putin's deceptions Get ready for summit with no agenda and calculated risks Will Democrats realize that Americans are tired of war? MORE’s (D-Mass.) BUILD Act, which would establish a national infrastructure bank. Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) has sponsored legislation to give tax breaks to businesses that hire unemployed military veterans. 

Each of these proposals was included in Obama’s jobs package, which Republicans voted in unison to block last week.

Durbin said Republicans were happy to support some of the proposals when former President George W. Bush introduced them in a jobs bill he sent to Congress. 

“I don’t know what their motivation is, but I do know if you go to speech after speech and you say you want Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaEx-White House stenographer: Trump is ‘lying to the American people’ Trump has the right foreign policy strategy — he just needs to stop talking The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump faces bipartisan criticism over Putin presser, blames media for coverage MORE to be a one-term president and then you use the filibuster in an unprecedented way to stop all progress, that seems to me fulfilling that goal,” said Sen. Robert MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezCNN anchors break into laughter over comedian's alleged prank call to Trump Comedian claims he tricked Trump while impersonating Dem senator Schumer: Obama 'very amenable' to helping Senate Dems in midterms MORE (D-N.J.).

Other Democrats are leery of supporting Reid’s bold accusation against Republicans. 

Democrats facing tough reelections next year, such as Sen. Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowLobbying world The Hill's Morning Report — Trump, Putin meet under cloud of Mueller’s Russia indictments Dem senator: Kavanaugh sides with 'wealthiest special interests' MORE (Mich.), don’t want to feed the public perception that Congress has broken down because of partisan acrimony.

“They are clearly blocking efforts to work together,” said Stabenow, who declined to voice an opinion on GOP motivations.

This story was updated at 12:02 p.m.