Senate Republican leaders are hoping to persuade waffling members of their Conference to block Majority Leader Harry Reids (D-Nev.) $15 billion jobs bill by arguing that Reid has brushed aside minority rights in bringing it to the floor, aides told a gathering of lobbyists Wednesday.
Although Reids decision to abandon an $85 billion bipartisan bill negotiated by Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) in favor of his targeted approach has upset Republicans, aides acknowledged there is still no consensus within the GOP on how to vote on a cloture motion Monday to begin debate on the measure.
For instance, an aide to Environment and Public Works ranking member James Inhofe (R-Okla.) said that while his boss isnt happy with Reids handling of the bill, Inhofe hasnt decided how he will vote. At this point hes not sure, the aide said, explaining that the inclusion of a one-year extension to the Highway Trust Fund is a high priority for Inhofe. But in terms of an actual bill on Monday, given that we didnt know what was in it until Thursday ... its a little hard for him to commit one way or the other at this point.
Given the divisions within the GOP Conference and the fact that Republicans have largely backed most of the bills provisions in the past leadership aides told lobbyists that the GOP plans to attack Reids bill over process, rather than policy.
More than 100 lobbyists representing the National Federation of Independent Business, the National Association of Manufacturers, the Business Roundtable and other associations attended the meeting with staff from the offices of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), Republican Policy Committee Chairman John Thune (S.D.), Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Grassley.
The feeling is they arent going to say anything in opposition to the bill, except to say its incomplete, a lobbyist who attended the meeting said. They are not opposed to the bill, they just believe their rights as the minority have been abridged.
Neither party has had much success with process-based messaging in the past. But GOP aides said they hope the strategy will succeed this time given public fatigue with partisanship.
Evan Bayh has made bipartisanship and the process of working together a story, a GOP aide said of the Democratic Senator from Indiana, adding that President Barack Obamas State of the Union challenged Republicans to work across the aisle. So I think it works very well, the aide said.
In that vein, Democrats are also hoping to use the mantle of bipartisanship to push Reids stripped-down version of the bill. For instance, during a conference call Wednesday, Environment and Public Works Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) repeatedly referred to the measure as a bipartisan package and highlighted the broad support each provision has had in the past. She also stressed that Reid will pursue a series of job-creation bills and that provisions included in the broader bill negotiated by Baucus and Grassley will be included in those measures. Were going to have other jobs bills ... [Reid] said theres no doubt were going to have some follow on here, Boxer said.
Democrats are also expected to target Republicans like moderate Sens. George Voinovich (Ohio), Scott Brown (Mass.), Susan Collins (Maine) and Olympia Snowe (Maine) to try to get enough support to bring the bill to the floor.
Rep. Bill Cassidy has his blood drawn by Alesha Barbour during a free hepatitis screening in the Rayburn House Office Building hosted by the Congressional Viral Hepatitis Caucus to recognize "National Viral Hepatitis Testing Day."
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