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Democrats See a Model in Reid’s Jobs Bill Strategy

“The leader made a gutsy call and showed we didn’t need those things” that Grassley and Republicans were asking for on the first jobs bill, another senior Senate Democratic aide said. “Republicans are finding it much harder to oppose a targeted approach.”

Still, GOP lawmakers said Reid’s handling of the jobs bill left a bitter taste. “It seems to me that it squelched bipartisanship rather than encouraged it,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said.

“I think it’s got to make it harder when ... [we’re] basically shut out by the majority,” he added.

Grassley agreed, saying, “It’s going to make me more cautious and questioning in the future.”

But Republicans emphasized they will continue to try to find areas where they can work with Democrats, including Baucus and other bipartisan-minded lawmakers.

Antonia Ferrier, spokeswoman for Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), said that while the drama surrounding the jobs bill may make bipartisanship more difficult, Hatch and other lawmakers continue to see it as their duty to work with Democrats as much as possible. Hatch was a supporter of the Baucus-Grassley compromise, and the narrower bill Reid pushed forward Monday included a Hatch-authored tax break for companies that hire the unemployed.

“Sen. Hatch will continue to work in good faith with those Democrats like Chairman Baucus who want to reach responsible, common-sense compromises. It’s up to the Democratic leadership to decide if they will choose to honor them,” Ferrier said.

A senior GOP aide said that while Republicans are frustrated, many believe they need to continue to work with Democrats whenever possible. “There really is a lack of trust on our side of the aisle. ... [But] there is an obligation of Senators on both sides of the aisle to try to work together,” the aide said, warning that Democrats should understand the implications of Reid’s actions.

“It’s not a good thing and they know it. What happens when it happens to them?” the aide asked.

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) indicated he believes the flap will blow over because Reid has made clear he will not undercut bipartisan deals in the same way again.

“Our leader’s made it clear that’s not what we intend to do and that’s not what we would have done this time through had he been assured that Republicans were not going to rope-a-dope us. He just felt like we were being set up,” Carper said.

“People tend to get mad, and then they get over it,” Carper added. “Around here, I learned a long time ago that sometimes the person who is my adversary on a particular issue next week might be my best ally on a different issue.”

Even so, Democrats indicated that the votes they are targeting are not necessarily those of Grassley and Hatch, who negotiated on health care with Baucus for months last year only to decline to sign on to any bill.

“There are a number of Republicans who engage in long-term negotiations, lengthy and, in the end, pointless negotiations, and so now you’ve got these guys saying, ‘No more,’ while others of their colleagues are voting for bipartisan bills,” the second senior Senate Democratic aide said. “I think votes speak louder than monthlong negotiations.”

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