It was a lively afternoon in an institution that used to consider itself the world’s greatest deliberative body.
In a lively spat on the Senate floor Tuesday, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) attempted call up President Obama’s jobs plan for an immediate vote in the upper chamber.
However, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who supports the legislation, blocked the vote. […]
“What I am trying to do here today by requesting this vote on the president’s jobs bill … is to honor the request of the president of the United States that we vote on it now,” McConnell said. “He has been asking us repeatedly over the last few weeks that we vote on it now.”
Sure, the thoughtful Senate Minority Leader just wanted to give the president a hand. McConnell is known for being a close White House ally, right?
In reality, McConnell thought he was playing a fun little game. He knows Senate Democrats aren’t united on the American Jobs Act, so he figured if he could force a vote, there would be bipartisan opposition, which Republicans could then use against the White House. If Harry Reid blocked the move, McConnell could get a few cheap laughs by saying Dems blocked a vote on the president’s jobs bill. “Honoring” a presidential request was the furthest thing from McConnell’s mind.
But even this stunt wasn’t quite what it appeared to be. For one thing, McConnell wasn’t trying to bring the jobs bill to the floor, he was trying to tack the entire package on as an amendment to a bill on Chinese currency manipulation. For another, McConnell swore up and down yesterday he wanted a vote on the American Jobs Act, but Republicans were still going to filibuster — he wasn’t calling for a vote on the bill, he was calling for an opportunity for the GOP to obstruct a vote on the bill.
Indeed, the whole charade was farcical. Since when does the Senate vote on a $450 billion jobs package without any debate? Without so much as an opportunity to make changes to the bill? Mitch McConnell is less a Senate leader and more a child, playing games in the midst of a crisis.
For his part, Reid called McConnell’s bluff — the Democratic leader blocked the GOP stunt, but told the Minority Leader that if he’s eager to debate the American Jobs Act, the Senate could take it up immediately after the China bill, with a lengthy debate on what’s best for the economy. McConnell balked.
Apparently, his willingness to “honor” the White House’s request for action was less than sincere. Imagine that.