Reid Offers Bailout Ultimatum to GOP

Posted December 11, 2008 at 9:30am

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) presented Republicans with a take-it-or-leave proposal Thursday morning for voting on the auto industry bailout bill, saying he would not entertain amendments but would allow a vote on an alternative GOP measure.

He said that if Republicans refuse his offer and filibuster the bill in a test vote set for Friday morning, the Senate would abandon its efforts to pass the rescue plan this year.

“If there’s no agreement reached on [what to vote on], then we have danced this tune long enough,” Reid said on the Senate floor. He added later, “If we’re not allowed to proceed on that, then we’ll be through with this.”

Reid offered to vote on three free-standing bills — a Republican alternative, the version that passed the House last night and the Senate version that is slightly different from the House’s.

Reid said he had already made efforts to include GOP Senators in weeks-long negotiations with House Democrats and the White House, but that he was rebuffed.

“We have done our very best to include everyone who wants to be included in this,” Reid said. “There was a decision made that the minority would not participate.”

Indeed, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) declined invitations to join the talks as well as a suggestion to send a proxy to represent his Conference.

“If the minority Republicans want a better bill, then they should offer an alternative,” Reid said.

The Majority Leader strongly emphasized that he would not entertain GOP amendments to the measure brokered by Democrats and the White House. Reid said he has gotten numerous calls from Republicans who have said, “I have just the thing that needs to be done.”