A gentlemen's agreement reached earlier this year between Republican and Democratic Senate leaders "has broken down big-time," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said today.
The Nevada Democrat complained on the Senate floor that Republicans haven't held up their end of the bargain in helping to keep the Senate running smoothly with a minimum of procedural roadblocks. Reid said it's a rare day that Republicans allow him to simply bring a bill up for debate without having to go through the process of beating back a filibuster. And he said that when he allowed an open amendment process on a small-business bill earlier this year, the GOP abused it and killed the bill by amendment after two months on the floor. Reid ended up pulling the bill from floor consideration rather than voting on GOP amendments.
He blamed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) stated top goal of defeating President Barack Obama next year.
"As a result of that, we have not been able to do the government's business because everything that they can do to slow down government is something they believe will help them a year from now," Reid said.
He made his remarks on the Senate floor, contending that he hoped to be able to allow Republican amendments to the minibus appropriations package.
"This is an important time in the history of our country, to show the American people we can work together," he said. "I hope that in fact is the case because based on my experience at the beginning of this Congress where there was supposed to be a good-faith effort to return to regular order, it has not happened."
Reid had similar complaints earlier this month when he and Democrats voted to change Senate precedent and block GOP motions to suspend the rules and consider amendments after a cloture vote. That move infuriated McConnell and the GOP, who protested that Reid has filled the amendment tree excessively to prevent vulnerable Democrats from taking tough votes.
Republicans have contended that they are simply trying to protect the minority's right to offer amendments on the Senate floor and that Reid is the one who has stifled debate by refusing to allow votes on their proposals.