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Partisanship Rules, Even on Popular Bills

Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call

For months, the House has passed pieces of the GOP’s jobs plan, focusing largely on deregulatory measures that Republicans say will help boost job creation and that are favored by business interests.

But aside from the passage of a package of trade agreements and patent reform, most of the GOP’s agenda has been anathema to Democrats and the White House.

These pieces of the agenda include bills prohibiting new climate change regulations, expanding offshore oil drilling, eliminating federal oversight of some state clean water programs, reducing controls on the disposal of coal wastes and eliminating a series of proposed clean air rules.

None of those bills has a chance of passing the Senate, and the White House has consistently threatened to veto these and other GOP-backed bills.

Dubbed the “forgotten 15” by Republicans, these measures have died in the Senate, where Reid has dismissed them out of hand.

While they have denounced the Senate’s lack of action on the bills, Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Va.) have also acknowledged the need to find common ground with the Senate and White House. The withholding bill is the first in a series of planned mini jobs bills that can draw broad support in both chambers while avoiding veto threats.

That is what makes the back-and-forth over the withholding bill all the more troubling, Republicans and Democrats said.

One senior Democratic Senate aide Tuesday called the atmosphere “just awful.”

A Republican aide agreed, saying, “there’s not a lot of trust” between the two sides at this point, making even relatively benign bills like the withholding measure difficult to move.

Graham warned that lawmakers need a course correction.

“Either the body corrects itself or an outside force corrects the body,” Graham said.

“We owe it to the [country] to not leave behind an institution that in the eyes of the American people is completely destroyed. And we’re coming perilously close to that,” he added.

David M. Drucker contributed to this report.

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