McConnell: Reid neutering chairmen

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) on Tuesday blasted Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) for neutering the Senate’s Democratic committee chairmen.

McConnell stepped up his charge that Reid has slowed the flow of legislative business in the upper chamber to a trickle.

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“The majority leader is treating his own caucus even worse than he’s treating us,” he said. “Even committee work can no longer escape the Democrat majority’s political obsession. The majority shut down the committee process on important legislation that should have been bipartisan, bills about patents and appropriations.”

“This is the kind of stuff that makes Americans so mad at Washington,” he added.

In May, Reid disputed the claim that power has shifted to his office from committee chairmen during his time as leader. He emphasized to reporters that he abolished the use of special task forces established under former Democratic leader Tom Daschle (S.D.), which some chairmen felt infringed on their authority.

“One of the reasons I got this job, the night I found out that Daschle lost, I called every chair and I said, ‘I haven’t favored these task forces that have been set up. I’m not going to do that anymore; I’m going to return powers to the chairs,’ and we’ve done that,” Reid said.

McConnell on Tuesday also bashed Reid for strictly limiting the amendments Republicans and Democrats may offer to legislation.

“The Democrats who run the Senate are so scared of legislating these days that they’re now blocking virtually every amendment ... on both sides,” McConnell said.

He noted that since July 15, Senate Democrats have received votes on only seven amendments.

Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) has not received a roll-call vote on an amendment since he was first elected in 2008. Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) has not gotten a vote on one of his amendments since March 2010.