In a lively spat on the Senate floor Tuesday, Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocrats livid over GOP's COVID-19 attacks on Biden US could default within weeks absent action on debt limit: analysis The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Congress avoids shutdown MORE (R-Ky.) attempted call up President Obama’s jobs plan for an immediate vote in the upper chamber.
However, Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidBottom line Voters need to feel the benefit, not just hear the message Schumer-McConnell dial down the debt ceiling drama MORE (D-Nev.), who supports the legislation, blocked the vote.
Reid used a procedural maneuver called "filling the tree," which allows the majority leader to say a piece of legislation has had all of its possibilities for amendments.
McConnell had tried to offer the president's job package as an amendment to the China currency legislation, which was being debated in chamber. By "filling the tree," Reid blocked that move.
“What I am trying to do here today by requesting this vote on the president’s jobs bill ... is to honor the request of the president of the United States that we vote on it now,” McConnell said. “He has been asking us repeatedly over the last few weeks that we vote on it now.”
“I think the president of the United States, whose polices I generally do not support ... is entitled to know where the Senate stands on his proposal that he has been out talking about ... and suggesting that we are unwilling to vote on it," he said.
Reid called McConnell’s request a “political stunt” and “senseless."
“What a charade we have going on here,” Reid said. “[W]e now have a proposal that is ridiculous on its face ... that is that we vote with no debate on the president’s jobs bill.”
If successful, McConnell's move would have put Democrats in a tough spot as they do not have enough support for the bill. The GOP leader, before he brought up the legislation, made it clear he was doing it to embarrass Democrats.
Obama on Monday called on Congress to vote on his jobs package. But Senate Majority Whip Dick DurbinDick DurbinFour questions that deserve answers at the Guantanamo oversight hearing Senate dodges initial December crisis with last-minute deal Conservatives target Biden pick for New York district court MORE (D-Ill.) said Tuesday the president's proposal would likely have to change in order to win passage.
Reid insisted that the president’s demand that Congress vote on the bill “now” did not necessarily mean all other legislative activities had to come to a halt. Reid also renewed an earlier pledge to bring the bill up for a procedural vote this month.
“Right away is a relative term,” Reid said. "[I] sponsored it, I am the one who brought it to the floor. We need to move to this right away ... I have said I will bring it to the floor this work period.”
McConnell said he would make every effort to force an immediate vote on the legislation.
-- Alexander Bolton contributed.
-- This post was last updated at 4:19 p.m.