Democrats' Resentment Toward Harry Reid Grows

Wednesday, 25 Jun 2014 07:50 AM

By Elliot Jager

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The U.S. Senate has not passed a major piece of legislation since June 2013, and junior Democratic senators are pressing Majority Leader Harry Reid to schedule more votes, Politico reported.

The impatient lawmakers hold Republicans ultimately responsible for the institution's idleness. They are concerned that they will have little in the way of legislation to show constituents. Twelve freshman Democrats who came to the Senate in January 2013 have not taken part in any vote bearing their names as lead sponsors, Politico reported.

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Some Democrats, Reid among them, think that in advance of the November elections is not a good time to push for more votes on controversial healthcare, energy, and social issues, Politico reported.

Others, including Alaska Sen. Mark Begich, who despite facing re-election, want more votes and are willing to take their political chances.

Reid's position is that Republican cooperation is essential in making the Senate work and that Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's insistence that at least 60 out of the 100 members vote on important legislation has created paralysis.

McConnell said he, too, wanted a more active Senate. "Not only do we not get votes on the floor, we don't get votes in committee either. When do we start legislating again? What's happened to the United States Senate?"

Even if the Senate were to pass a bill, it is unlikely the Republican-controlled House would act on the legislation without adding politically charged amendments that Reid does not want, according to Politico.

With Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota in the lead, the list of junior Democrats pushing for more votes includes New Jersey's Sen. Cory Booker, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, New Mexico Sen. Martin Heinrich, Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly, and Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia.

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., backs the junior members' call. "I think we need to go back to a proving process here. … I want to get us back to the days with amendments and debate."

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