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Republicans said Reid’s impatience to show that he can get things done along with his insistence on bringing up measures designed to please the Democratic base vote are only serving to unite Republicans against Democrats.
“It seems to me their conclusion is that a record of accomplishment is a lot less important than wedge political issues they can run on in ’08,” said Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.).
Republicans believe rushing to file cloture before debate really has begun is “disrespectful to the minority,” said the senior Senate GOP aide.
Of course, policy disagreements and political considerations also are at play, Republicans acknowledged.
When asked whether Reid had offered to allow amendments on both the intelligence authorization bill as well as a Medicare prescription drug measure, McConnell acknowledged Monday that the differences between the two parties were largely policy-related.
“The underlying bill is highly objectionable to the administration,” McConnell said of the intelligence measure. He added that many in the Republican Conference were completely opposed to the Medicare bill.
But McConnell said the way to avoid those kinds of policy differences would be to have brought up bills to ensure the solvency of Social Security or reform immigration laws.
“Another way to have gone would have been to have tackled some of these mega issues,” McConnell said at a press conference.
Meanwhile, Democrats denied that they are not allowing Republicans to offer amendments.
“I think they’re just crying wolf,” said Reid, noting that he offered to allow an equal number of amendments from both Republicans and Democrats on the intelligence authorization bill. “If McConnell says we’re not giving them a chance to amend bills, that’s not true.”
Reid spokesman Jim Manley said that each cloture motion — from two recent ones on the intelligence measure to four on the minimum-wage bill — has been necessary for a variety of reasons.
An expected cloture vote today on a bill to provide improved security at federal courthouses was necessary because Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) is objecting to any new authorization bills that do not include offsets, Manley said. Other GOP Senators have raised similar obstacles on nearly every other bill Reid has tried to bring up, he added.
“Despite the fact that the majority of these bills enjoy broad bipartisan support, there’s a small band of Republicans determined to obstruct everything we bring to the floor,” Manley said. “It’s getting a tad bit ridiculous when one single Senator is objecting to us going to a bill to provide security for our courts.”