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 ReidBarr fails to persuade Cruz on expanded background checks Harry Reid warns Trump 'can be reelected' Homeland Security Republican accuses Navy of withholding UFO info 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 CardinSenate confirms two Treasury nominees over Democratic objections Congress passes bill to begin scenic byways renaissance GOP lawmaker: 'Dangerous' abuse of Interpol by Russia, China, Venezuela 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 WhitehouseThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump eyes narrowly focused response to Iran attacks Kavanaugh impeachment push hits Capitol buzz saw Senate GOP pledges to oppose any efforts to 'pack' Supreme Court MORE (D-R.I.) said, “I’ll take Harry’s word for it.” 

 Senate Democratic Whip Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinOvernight Health Care — Presented by Partnership for America's Health Care Future — Walmart to stop selling e-cigarettes | Senators press FDA to pull most e-cigarettes immediately | House panel tees up e-cig hearing for next week Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers say Zuckerberg to 'cooperate' on antitrust probes | Dems see victory after McConnell backs election security funds | Twitter takes down fake pro-Saudi accounts Bipartisan group of senators urges FDA to pull most e-cigarettes immediately 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 McConnellOvernight Energy: California, 23 other states sue Trump over vehicle emissions rule | Climate strike protests hit cities across globe | Interior watchdog expands scope of FOIA investigation | Dems accuse officials of burying climate reports Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers say Zuckerberg to 'cooperate' on antitrust probes | Dems see victory after McConnell backs election security funds | Twitter takes down fake pro-Saudi accounts Liberal super PAC launches browser extension replacing 'Mitch McConnell' with 'Moscow Mitch' 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 McCainAmerica's newest comedy troupe: House GOP Michelle Malkin knocks Cokie Roberts shortly after her death: 'One of the first guilty culprits of fake news' Arizona Democratic Party will hold vote to censure Sinema MORE (R-Ariz.) said at the time it would be “very stimulative right away.” 

At the beginning of last year, Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchTrump to award racing legend Roger Penske with Presidential Medal of Freedom Trump awards Presidential Medal of Freedom to economist, former Reagan adviser Arthur Laffer Second ex-Senate staffer charged in aiding doxxing of GOP senators 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 GrahamSenate Judiciary Committee requests consultation with admin on refugee admissions Trump reignites court fight with Ninth Circuit pick Trump judicial picks face rare GOP opposition MORE (R-S.C.) have co-sponsored Sen. John KerryJohn Forbes KerryWarren shows signs of broadening her base Let's not play Charlie Brown to Iran's Lucy The Memo: Democrats struggle to find the strongest swing-state candidate 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 ObamaKrystal Ball tears into 'Never Trump' Republicans Sanders campaign announces it contacted over 1 million Iowa voters Iowa Steak Fry to draw record crowds for Democrats 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) MenendezAs NFIP reauthorization deadline looms, Congress must end lethal subsidies Senate Democrats warn Trump: Don't invite Putin to G-7 Pelosi warns Mnuchin to stop 'illegal' .3B cut to foreign aid 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 StabenowSenate Democrats accuse administration of burying climate change reports Democrats seize Senate floor to protest gun inaction: 'Put up or shut up' Conservatives offer stark warning to Trump, GOP on background checks 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.