Reid blasts GOP on Holder

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) slammed Republicans Thursday for voting to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress while a transportation and student-loan deal lags.

The partisan flare-up came while lawmakers wait for a legislative deal to extend transportation authorization, student loan subsidies and the national flood insurance program. A Senate Democratic aide said House Republicans have posted the bill online but have yet to file it.

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“Instead of focusing on jobs, House Republicans are pursuing a political witch hunt against the Obama administration and Attorney General Eric Holder,” Reid said in a statement. “I support Attorney General Holder, who has done an outstanding job protecting our nation and prosecuting threats to our national security. The attorney general has cooperated with the House, but it’s clear that no amount of cooperation will ever be enough for Tea Party-driven House Republicans.”

Senate Democrats are irritated that House Republicans are waging partisan political exercises late in the week while lawmakers in both chambers wait on the transportation, student loan and flood insurance package.

“Democrats are focused on creating jobs, and we certainly will not waste time in the Senate with votes or hearings on this empty, partisan crusade that does absolutely nothing to help middle-class families struggling to make ends meet,” Reid said.

The legislative deal, which Senate and House negotiators reached late Wednesday, would create or save about 2.5 million jobs, according to a Senate aide.

Senate Republicans have been less aggressive in challenging Holder.

Sen. John Cornyn (Texas), chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, has called on Holder to resign, but other members of the Senate GOP leadership have stopped short of that step.

McConnell recently said he supported the House investigation of whether the Justice Department tried to cover up mistakes in the Fast and Furious gun-walking operation.

Reid said Thursday afternoon the transportation, student-loan and flood-insurance package would pass by the end of the week but did not know precisely when.

Reid said he did not yet have consent from all senators to bring the deal up for a vote Thursday evening or Friday morning.

Reid said the Senate is waiting on the Congressional Budget Office to score the cost of the deal and for the House to file it.

“The committee and the chairs and ranking members worked late last night. I talked to the CBO today. They didn’t get the information that they started scoring until 4 a.m.,” Reid said. “They’re doing their best and moving forward.

“The committees of jurisdiction, as I have indicated, worked through all these matters,” he added. “They have completed drafting a revised version of the conference report. So we expect this to be filed momentarily. It could have already been filed.”