GOP Highlighting Lack of Action in Democratic Senate

Tuesday, 29 Jul 2014 03:08 PM

By Jennifer G. Hickey

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With more incumbents facing re-election, Senate Democrats are growing more concerned about the lack of progress on passing major bills, as well as annual appropriations bills, The Hill reports.

While Congress is scheduled to vote on a $17 billion plan to fix some of the problems plaguing the Department of Veterans Affairs before leaving on its August recess, the Senate has failed to hold a vote on a single appropriations bill.

President Barack Obama frequently campaigns against Republicans for obstructing his agenda, but the GOP is hoping to use the same argument to regain control of the Senate.

On July 22, the Republican National Committee announced the launch of its "Fire Reid" campaign, which is a two-week robocall effort targeting key states to hammer home the message that the 2014 election is a referendum on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's leadership.

The RNC script, according to Politico, "President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid have blocked hundreds of bills that would spur job creation. It’s time to fire Harry Reid. It’s time to vote against [name of Democratic candidate]."

On Tuesday, Republicans increased the pressure on Reid, gathering at the Capitol to protest his leadership and to highlight the 43 jobs-related bills that have been passed in the House, but have yet to be brought to the Senate floor for a vote.

Individual GOP members also are driving home the "fire Reid" message. On Tuesday, Republican Sen. John Barrasso made his case for turning the gavel of the Senate to the GOP in an Investors' Business Daily editorial.

"Congress will soon recess for August, and senators will head home to tell their constituents about bills they support to solve America's problems. It's time for Americans to start asking: 'When's the vote?'" asks Barrasso, who serves as chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee.

According to the Wyoming senator, in the last 12 months, a total of 1,952 amendments have been introduced (1,105 Republican, 847 Democrat), but only 19 have received roll call votes (12 Republican, seven Democrat).

Furthermore, among Democrats elected to the Senate in 2012, not a single one has gotten a roll call vote on even one of their own amendments.

"It's an astonishing and embarrassing record. Instead of telling constituents they've solved real problems, new Democrat senators can only say they've sent press releases," he wrote.

Whether the strategy works is uncertain as voters remain fairly evenly divided in terms of who should control Congress.

A recent Pew Research Center survey, conducted July 8-14 among 1,805 adults, found a fairly even split between the parties in terms of voter preference, with Democrats holding a slight lead over Republicans by 47 to 45 percent.

However, Republicans have an advantage on several engagement indicators.

According to Pew, 45 percent of GOP registered voters express more enthusiasm about this election than the previous campaign, compared with only 37 percent who plan to vote for a Democrat. In 2010, Republicans held a 13-point enthusiasm advantage at this point in the midterm campaign, which reflects the increased dissatisfaction among voters.

Pew reports 48 percent of all registered voters "want to see their own representative re-elected" and only 24 percent would like to see most members win re-election.

There is a silver lining for Democrats, however, as 44 percent of voters place blame for congressional inaction at the feet of Republicans, while only 28 percent blame Democrats.

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