Reid: O-care will not cost Dems the Senate

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) does not think the faulty rollout of ObamaCare will cost Democrats control of the Senate next year.

He feels confident about 2014, despite the myriad of problems plaguing the Affordable Care Act that have sent Obama’s approval rating to near historic lows.

One reassuring development, he told Bloomberg Television in an interview Friday, is President Obama’s decision to bring on board an old political hand from the Clinton administration.

ADVERTISEMENT
Reid said he gave an elated yell when he heard that Obama had recruited John Podesta, who served as White House chief of staff under former President Bill Clinton.

"When I was told this was going to happen by the president's chief of staff, he could probably hear me yell over the phone. In fact, I know he did. John Podesta is going to bring some political savvy to the White House, and I think that's so important. He's such a good guy," Reid said in an interview with Bloomberg’s Al Hunt.

Reid said he’s confident of Democrats keeping control of the Senate in the 2014 midterm elections and took a shot at political handicapper Charlie Cook for rating the prospect of a GOP takeover at 50-50.

"Well, maybe Cook will be right for once. But I doubt it,” he said.

Reid said he remembered Cook and other prognosticators declaring that former Vice President Al Gore would not lose the 2000 presidential race.

"Oh, I feel pretty good. We'd have to lose six seats, and I don't see that,” he said. “You know, they said we were going to lose last time. We picked up two seats.”

Reid said Obama would have a better year politically in 2014 because he believes the economy is improving and there is little chance of another government shutdown.

Other Senate Democrats expressed similar sentiments Friday.

Although five Senate Republicans have yet to emerge publicly in support of the recent budget deal, Reid expects it will pass when the Senate considers it beginning Tuesday of next week.

"Well, I would think it would,” he said. “I think it would be suicide if the Republicans didn't pass it. Here is one of the agreements that is a landmark agreement, not because of the massive size of it, but because what it does to the Congress or for the Congress and for the American people."

Reid said Republicans would also risk political suicide if they block legislation raising the debt limit, which could trigger a national default next year.

The Democratic leader plans to set up a vote to confirm Janet Yellen, Obama’s pick to head the Federal Reserve, at the end of next week.

A Democratic leadership aide said Thursday Yellen would be in a batch of 10 to 12 nominees although Republicans counter that Reid will not get nearly that many before Christmas.

Reid noted that work on a resolution or legislation addressing sanctions against Iran would resume next year although he declined to commit to any definite course of action.

He cautioned, however, that he would look warily at any proposal that undercuts the administration’s multilateral agreement with Iran and several world powers.

“I'm going to do everything I can to protect the administration and their negotiations, but I'm also going to take into consideration the fact that bipartisan legislation is never bad,” he said.

He promised to “take a look” at any proposal that satisfies Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Senate Democratic messaging chief Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who represents a large pro-Israel constituency.

Reid thinks the White House will work more closely with congressional Democrats now that Podesta has joined the administration and the president has tapped Katie Beirne Fallon to head his legislative affairs shop.

He said those hires would fill the void created by the departure of Pete Rouse, who served as Obama’s chief of staff in the Senate and most recently as counselor to the president.