“To paraphrase Shakespeare, which I don’t do often, I think the Republican leader protests far too much,” Reid said in response to McConnell. “Now he’s back quoting Sen. Byrd.”
He also brushed off McConnell’s comparison to the 2005 showdown but invoked McConnell’s words in the dust-up to support Democrats’ position today.
“The situation that we had when the Republicans were trying to change the rule regarding judges is totally different than what’s happened on the floor in the last few weeks,” Reid said. “You see, what Democrats are proposing to do to help repair the Senate is pretty much what Sen. McConnell [said] was necessary in 2005.”
Reid also said that Byrd was open to changes, on a simple-majority vote, if circumstances dictate.
“I am in the same position that he is in,” Reid said. “The Republicans have made the Senate dysfunctional, and I have asked my caucus to support me for some simple changes.”
McConnell stressed that he wants to avoid setting the precedent of changing Senate rules on a simple majority and implored that Democrats sit down with Republicans to explore any areas of agreement.
“That is the point here,” McConnell said of the precedent.
“What we ought to be doing is talking to each other about what adjustments in the rules we could advocate together,” McConnell continued. “I’d be happy to talk to the majority leader about these issues, but I vigorously oppose — and I know Sen. Byrd, I know Sen. Byrd would vigorously oppose — breaking the rules to change the rules.”
Reid said he was open to talking about the issue.
“If Sen. McConnell has ideas for changes I will be happy work with him,” Reid said. “But the facts are the facts ... the Senate is not working and we need to do something to fix it.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., carries a musket on stage as he speaks during the American Conservative Union's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Md., on Thursday March 6, 2014.