No one, Democrat or Republican, expected it, but now Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid actually plans to call up some bipartisan legislation for votes, Politico reports
The move was likely fueled by the same fear that originally had Nevada Democrat Reid stifling GOP opposition: Democrats don't want to lose the Senate to Republicans.
With midterm elections looming in November, Reid had been committed to keeping Republican amendments out of Democrats' bills – and not even allowing Republican-introduced bills to come to the floor for consideration.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell wrote an op-ed
for Politico Magazine in January saying Reid had killed bipartisanship in the upper chamber.
Democrats hold a five-vote majority in the Senate, and the old strategy may have been seen as keeping Republicans from having anything to run on.
But with Obamacare troubles continuing and key races looking more in doubt, Democrats now need legislation they can hang their hats on when they talk to voters.
Reid still is likely to push through partisan efforts such as raising the minimum wage, extending unemployment insurance and mandating equal pay for men and women.
But an effort at passing less-controversial bills, including manufacturing and prison reform bills, with Republican support can make the entire Senate look better to Americans with a low opinion of Congress in general.
It would also help erase the do-nothing label.
"We have two options, basically; we could jump right into the straight political votes," a senior Senate Democratic aide told Politico. "Or we can sort of try to stretch out the bipartisan muscles with some lower-profile but important bills."
Republicans say that if Reid really wants bipartisanship, he should consider approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, repealing the medical device tax, and fast tracking new trade agreements.
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