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House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy Swipes at Senate GOP

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call
House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy said Senate Republicans’ maneuvers are partly to blame for the glut of House-passed bills that stall in that chamber.

House Republicans are fond of portraying the Senate as a graveyard for dozens of bipartisan bills, accusing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) of purposefully blockading bills that should, in theory, be easy to move.

But for House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, a significant amount of blame for the legislative dead zone that is the Senate lies with that chamber’s Republican minority.

While Reid and President Barack Obama are indeed partially to blame, the California Republican bluntly said in a recent interview with Roll Call that the internal political goals of the Senate GOP have contributed to the obstruction of the House’s agenda.

Senate Republicans, as the “loyal opposition” in a closely divided chamber, have their own political motivations that can differ from those of Republicans in the House, who have to demonstrate an ability to effectively govern, McCarthy said.

“They’re on the cusp of winning the majority. They want nothing to happen, right? We need to be a majority; we need to get product finished,” he said.

“The other thing that people don’t think about — what we need to achieve lots of times is the opposite of what Republicans in the Senate need to achieve,” he said.

The GOP has created a cottage industry out of slamming Reid and Obama for not being interested in working with House Republicans since taking control of the House in 2010. And with Obama attempting to use a “do-nothing Congress” as a foil for his re-election campaign, Republicans have bitterly cried foul in the past several months over what they see as Reid and Obama implementing a campaign strategy in the Senate.

Perhaps ironically, the Senate is considering a House-passed GOP capital formation bill this week that is a priority for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and has been endorsed by Obama.

McCarthy made it clear that he sees Senate Republicans’ maneuvers as simply exacerbating an already difficult situation, adding to a scenario in which Republicans “don’t have a president in the White House who you can call down or put you on Air Force One or come into your district. We don’t have earmarks and what we’re achieving is fighting against everything else ... at times you have more wind in the face, so the strategy has to be stronger to overcome that.”

A Senate GOP leadership aide sidestepped McCarthy’s complaints and said Reid is ultimately to blame for the lack of progress on much of the House GOP’s legislative work product.

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