Obama Scuffles With McConnell Over Jobs Bill, Judicial Nominees
President Barack Obama appears to be losing his patience with Senate Republicans over what he says are their efforts to block a small-business lending bill and hold up his judicial nominees.
Obama gave Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) a hard time on both fronts and “got a bit annoyed at him” during a Tuesday meeting with Congressional leaders, according to a Democrat in the room. Other attendees included Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio).
During remarks to the press after the meeting, the president said the stalled Senate bill aimed at spurring job growth through increased small-business lending is among the “common sense steps that folks from both parties have supported in the past.” Obama criticized Senate Republicans for keeping the proposal “held hostage to partisan politics,” particularly during “this critical time.”
Obama said he also used the meeting to urge McConnell to “work with us” to confirm judicial nominees instead of using parliamentary procedures “time and time again to deny them.” He lamented that some have been waiting for eight months for confirmation, despite many being “voted out of committee unanimously.”
A senior Senate GOP aide dismissed the idea that tensions escalated between the president and the Senate Minority Leader in the meeting.
“They had a discussion about the agenda, but the president wasn’t rude,” the aide said.
Other items prioritized in the session included the war funding bill and energy legislation.
The president urged House leaders to pass the $33 billion war supplemental on Tuesday and called on Senate leaders to pass its pared down energy bill before the August recess. Obama referred to the energy proposal as “only the first step” and vowed to keep pushing for comprehensive climate change legislation down the road.