GOP Senators: Reid Stifles Debate Over Amendments

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Saturday, 17 May 2014 10:39 PM

By Todd Beamon

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Senate Republicans are charging Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid with stifling debate by deciding which amendments they can offer to legislation when it is brought to the floor for a vote.

"In the old Senate, the majority leader didn't tell, A, the minority how many votes they could have, and, B, by the way, pick them for them," Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said at a news conference last week, The Hill reports.

But Democrats privately defend Reid by saying that the Nevada senator is trying to prevent any "gotcha" political surprises that could affect his party's chances of holding on to the body after the November congressional elections.

Some tell the Hill that McConnell is working to score points against vulnerable Democrats seeking re-election rather than passing quality reforms.

"Mitch McConnell is all about seizing power for himself," one Democratic senator, who requested anonymity, told the Hill. "He wants to offer amendments on anything related to taxes. That’s a lot of ground to cover."

Reid, however, is expected to bring a package of tax cuts favored by GOP legislators back to the Senate floor — but only if Republicans clear the amendments they want to offer to the bill beforehand with Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., the Hill reports.

"What I've said to my colleagues on the Republican side [is] I’d like to see their list," Wyden said.

According to Reid, if Wyden can reach a deal with Republicans on their amendments, the bill will move forward again. Otherwise, the bipartisan measure won't pass the Senate before the election, the Hill reports.

Democrats are particularly concerned that McConnell could split their caucus with votes on broad tax policy instead of the more specific tax provisions that have expired that are addressed in the pending legislation.

Republicans also cited Reid's rejection earlier this month of several Republican amendments to an energy efficiency bill that were relevant to energy policy, according to the Hill.

McConnell said last week that he only wanted votes on four or five amendments that were germane to the energy bill — but Democrats rejected the request because they had promised a vote on the Keystone XL pipeline.

Reid later rescinded the promise, claiming that Republicans kept changing their demands, the Hill reports.

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