Two centrists, Sens. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillBiden, lawmakers mourn Harry Reid Harry Reid, political pugilist and longtime Senate majority leader, dies On The Trail: Trump-inspired challengers target GOP governors MORE (D-Mo.) and Joe ManchinJoe ManchinArizona Democratic Party executive board censures Sinema Biden seeks to save what he can from Build Back Better On The Money — Labor chief touts efforts to promote job growth MORE (D-W.Va.), voted against Senate Democratic Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Connected Commerce Council - Biden faces reporters as his agenda teeters Biden hits one-year mark in dire straits 'All or nothing' won't bolster American democracy: Reform the filibuster and Electoral Count Act MORE (Nev.) Thursday to protest his leadership style.
McCaskill said that, under Reid’s tenure as Senate majority leader, the chamber has become engulfed in partisan sniping and produced little in the way of legislative progress.
The Missouri Democrat said she’s focused on “making this place functional again and working with our Republican colleagues.”
She said the Democratic message has “been drowned out by a lot of the political backbiting, and there’s a lot of us who feel it’s time for us to not mimic what the Republicans did but rise above it and try to work together.”
She voted no on a yes-or-no secret ballot question on whether Reid should serve as minority leader in the 114th Congress. She did not have an opportunity to vote for another leader.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) sounded exasperated after emerging from a four-hour meeting, during which Democrats voted to keep their leadership team largely in place.
“I voted for a change,” Manchin told reporters. “I didn’t get a change.”
McCaskill said Reid was unfazed when she told him of her opposition. She predicted he would not retaliate by denying her plum committee assignments.
“He understood,” she said, adding that the Democratic leader is “not unaccustomed to me coming in and telling him things he may not want to hear.”
One of the few changes made was the addition of liberal favorite Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenArizona Democratic Party executive board censures Sinema Democrats call on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans Biden stiff arms progressives on the Postal Service MORE (D-Mass.) to the leadership ranks. Reid minted a new post for her, strategic policy adviser to the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee.
Asked if Warren was the sort of change he was interested in, Manchin shot back to a reporter: “Are you deaf?”
But Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterSchumer opted for modest rules reform after pushback from moderates The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Connected Commerce Council - Biden faces reporters as his agenda teeters Democrats' filibuster gambit unravels MORE (Mont.), the newly installed chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said the meeting was cathartic for the caucus, after an election where Democrats lost at least eight seats in the Senate.
“I think that people have had things that they wanted to talk about in relation to the election that just passed, and I think there was some really beneficial conversation that came up,” Tester told reporters. “I thought it was one of the best meetings I’ve been in, truthfully. People could speak as long as they wanted — and they did."
The Montana Democrat also said that his campaign experience, which includes winning two close Senate races in a red state, would be a boon to the DSCC in 2016, where the party gets a map full of pick-up opportunities.
“I think that I offer perspective that will allow us to be successful in ’16 if we’re able to recruit the right candidates, if we’re able to stand up and lead and fight for prosperity for the middle class,” Tester said.
Democrats will also have to do their part to show voters that the Senate can work again, Tester added.
The Montana Democrat said the caucus discussed “the frustration that the whole body was dysfunctional. We’ve got to figure out a way to make it functional again, to work for the American people.”
“We take as much blame as the Republicans,” Tester added about who was to blame for that dysfunction.