McConnell: Reid Has Killed Senate Bipartisanship

Image: McConnell: Reid Has Killed Senate Bipartisanship

Monday, 13 Jan 2014 10:11 AM

By Lisa Barron

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has blasted Sen. Harry Reid's iron-fisted rule in the upper chamber, claiming that it has destroyed bipartisan cooperation among legislators.

In an editorial published in Politico Magazine Sunday, the Kentucky Republican wrote that Senate Democrats "have a leader in Sen. Harry Reid who seems to think the right of all states' representatives in the Senate to be heard is optional."

"The result has been greater acrimony between the two parties and a tendency of the majority Democrats to push for partisan legislation, such as the Affordable Care Act, that only guarantees greater instability in our laws," he said.

McConnell also pointed to last week's debate over extending unemployment insurance to more than one million Americans whose benefits expired at the end of 2013, arguing that Reid "refused to consider a single Republican amendment to an unemployment bill."

Instead, the Senate Majority Leader's "refusal to even debate common-sense reforms that would help those struggling with long-term joblessness, or sensible proposals to cover the cost of assisting them, only makes sense in the larger context of his tightening hold on the legislative process," he stated.

McConnell cited the Senate's consensus in passing some of the most important legislation of the past century, such as Medicare and Medicaid, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Social Security Act, and warned, "Chaos will always be the result if you approach legislation without regard for the views of the other side."

"My point is that the Senate exists precisely to prevent the kind of outcome we saw on Obamacare," he added. "When the Senate is allowed to work the way it was designed to work, it arrives at a result that's acceptable to people all along the political spectrum."

McConnell went on to suggest ways to improve the current situation, including a more vigorous committee process. "These days ... major legislation is routinely drafted not in committee but in the majority leader's conference room, then dropped on the floor with little or no opportunity for members to participate in the amendment process, virtually guaranteeing a fight," he noted.

In addition, "Bills should come to the floor, be thoroughly debated and include a robust amendment process," McConnell maintained.

Finally, he advocated a longer work week for members of the Senate. "The only way 100 senators will truly be able to have their say, the only way we will be able to work through our tensions and disputes, is if we work longer hours," he said, recalling that they got "a glimpse of how useful long hours can be during last year's budget debate."

"Ultimately, both parties have to assume some level of blame for the state of the Senate. But we can't be content to leave it at that," McConnell concluded.

"For the good of the country, we need to work together to restore this body that has meant so much to our country's stability and success."

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