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Reid, Democrats Try Tough Tack

Winning the disaster aid fight and shutting down the GOP on the China currency bill are, however, minor victories in the grand scheme of things and likely have little resonance outside the Capitol grounds. Theres even a debate within Democratic circles over whether winning these small fights is worth the potential cost.

Reid acknowledged as much on the floor last week noting that his own staff worried that eliminating post-cloture motions to suspend the rules could come back to hurt Democrats when they are in the minority.

But Reid clearly has grown increasingly frustrated by a Senate that has reached new levels of dysfunction, noting on the floor how he hoped a gentlemens agreement he reached with McConnell earlier this year to allow a more open process would bear fruit and how he had spurned efforts by some of his younger Members to monkey with the filibuster itself.

That deal simply hasnt worked, Reid suggested.

When I try to have an open amendment process, it is a road to nowhere, he said, citing small-business and economic development bills that the GOP blocked earlier this year under a torrent of unrelated amendments.

This was not just about this bill, a senior Democratic aide said. This was a shot across the bow to Republicans who have been emptying the toolbox to block even the most bipartisan, job-creating, common-sense pieces of legislation.

Another senior aide said the frustration among Democrats had been building all year. Were not going to jump through these hoops anymore. Were not going to compromise and compromise and compromise in order to get nothing, the aide said.

Republicans, however, say Democrats are trying to make them into the villain as part of a strategy to run against a do-nothing Congress.

I dont think they want to get things done, the GOP aide said. If your policies arent working, youve got to find somebody else to blame.

Reid will face another big test as soon as today, with votes planned on the presidents jobs package with the tax increases altered to suit Senate Democrats tastes by solely targeting millionaires.

But the caucuss recent show of unity might not hold. Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), for example, said last week he doesnt support the jobs plan overall, complaining about the payroll tax cut as well as aid to states. Several others have expressed reservations about various pieces of the package, and its not clear Reid can hold a majority for the bill.

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