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Entries in Harry Reid (135)

Sunday
Jul142013

Nuclear Flashback: When Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell Sang Different Tunes

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Nearly a decade ago, the nuclear tables were turned in the Senate when the two leaders at the center of this month’s squabble over the so-called “nuclear option” sang entirely different tunes on the filibuster.

In 2005, then Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., threatened to invoke the “nuclear option” against Democrats filibustering President George W. Bush’s judicial nominees.

Sen. Mitch McConnell, who was then a part of the majority leadership, was one of the Republicans hoping to stop the minority’s use of the filibuster over judicial nominees. Then Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, defended his party’s tactics and fought to prevent Republicans from changing the rules.

Democrats and Republicans eventually worked out a deal, saving the Senate from complete nuclear meltdown for the time being, but eight years later, the two leaders have reversed their positions on the nuclear option.

So this time around, as Reid readies the nukes in the Senate and McConnell is arming his own troops for retaliation, here is a comparison of each leader’s statements on the nuclear option between the fight in 2005 and now. Times may change, but in Washington, it seems that hypocrisy is forever.

Harry Reid Then
“If there were ever an example of an abuse of power, this is it… The filibuster is the last check we have against the abuse of power in Washington.” – Harry Reid 2005

“Republicans are in power today, Democrats tomorrow. A simple majority can change anything. Mr. President, this is the way it should be. You should not be able to come in here and change willy-nilly a rule of the Senate.” – Harry Reid on Senate floor, May 23, 2005

“I just couldn’t believe that Bill Frist was going to do this. The storm had been gathering all year, and word from conservative columnists and in conservative circles was that Senator Frist of Tennessee, who was the Majority Leader, had decided to pursue a rules change that would kill the filibuster for judicial nominations. And once you opened that Pandora’s box, it was just a matter of time before a Senate leader who couldn’t get his way on something moved to eliminate the filibuster for regular business as well. And that, simply put, would be the end of the United States Senate.” – Harry Reid in his 2008 book The Good Fight

“As long as I am the leader, the answer’s no. I think we should just forget that. That is a black chapter in the history of the Senate. I hope we never ever get to that again because I really do believe it will ruin our country.” – Harry Reid on nuclear option, C-SPAN interview, Sept. 12, 2008

Harry Reid Now
“I’m going to go to the floor on Tuesday and do what I need to do so this doesn’t happen anymore.” – Harry Reid in news conference on Capitol Hill, July 11, 2013

“A consistent and unprecedented obstruction by this Republican Congress has turned advise and consent into deny and obstruct. Republicanism obstruction is to deny President Obama the ability to choose a team. Whether you’re a Democrat or Republican or independent, we should all be able to agree that presidents deserve the team members they want, and their nomination be subject to simple up-or-down votes.” – Harry Reid on Senate floor, July 11, 2013

“The American people know this dysfunction we have here. And all we’re asking is, let the president have his team. We’re not talking about changing the filibuster rules that relates to nominations or judges. We’re saying we shouldn’t be held up — we have 15 nominees who have been held up for an average of nine months. Does the place need to be changed? Yes.” – Harry Reid on Senate floor, July 11, 2013

Mitch McConnell Then
“The majority in the Senate is prepared to restore the Senate’s traditions and precedence to ensure that regardless of party, any president’s judicial nominees, after full and fair debate, receive a simple up-or-down vote on the Senate floor. It’s time to move away from … advise and obstruct and get back to advise and consent.” – Mitch McConnell on Senate floor, May 19, 2005

“This is not the first time a minority of senators has upset a Senate tradition or practice, and the current Senate majority intends to do what the majority in the Senate has often done–use its constitutional authority under article I, section 5, to reform Senate procedure by a simple majority vote. Despite the incredulous protestations of our Democratic colleagues, the Senate has repeatedly adjusted its rules as circumstances dictate.” – Mitch McConnell on Senate floor, May 23, 2005

“The time has come to change the rules. I want to change them in an orderly fashion. I want a time agreement. But, barring that, if I have to be forced into a corner to try for majority vote I will do it because I am going to do my duty as I see my duty, whether I win or lose…. If we can only change an abominable rule by majority vote, that is in the interests of the Senate and in the interests of the nation that the majority must work its will. And it will work its will.” – Mitch McConnell on Senate floor, May 23, 2005

Mitch McConnell Now
“It would be naive to assume that you could break the rules of the Senate in order to change the rules for the Senate only for nominations, that there would be a widespread clamor across our conference, were we to be in the majority, to take that precedent and apply it to everything else…. As Harry Reid, as Lamar pointed out in his book in 2007, using the nuclear option is the end of the Senate — I repeat, the end of the Senate. It turns the Senate into the House.” – Mitch McConnell in news conference on Capitol Hill, June 18, 2013

“This is about trying to come up with excuses to break our commitments. What this is about is manufacturing a pretext for a power grab.” – Mitch McConnell on Senate floor, July 11, 2013

“They’re willing to irreparably damage the Senate to ensure that they get their way.” – Mitch McConnell on Senate floor, July 11, 2013

“That would violate every protection of minority rights that have defined the United States Senate for as long as anyone can remember. Let me assure you, this Pandora’s box, once opened, will be utilized again and again by future majorities. And it will make the meaningful consensus-building that has served our nation so well a relic — a relic of the past.” – Mitch McConnell on Senate floor, July 11, 2013

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Apr242013

White House Likes Reid’s Plan to Delay Sequester Cuts

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- With the effect of across-the-board spending cuts rippling throughout the country, the White House said Wednesday President Obama supports Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s proposed plan to delay additional sequester cuts temporarily.

“We support this effort to allow both sides to find a longer-term solution that replaces the sequester permanently in a balanced way so we can stop these harmful cuts that are hurting our economy and middle-class families across the country,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters at the daily briefing.

With FAA furloughs causing coast-to-coast airport delays, Reid has proposed an anti-sequestration bill that would cancel the budget cuts for five months, paid for with savings from the winding down of the war in Afghanistan.

The plan does not, however, include new tax revenue, the president’s previous sticking point for any such deal.

“We believe that Senator Reid’s proposal is a good one in that it would temporarily delay the sequester and all the negative effects that we’re talking about now to air travelers and families and seniors, as well as the job loss and the drag on our economy, in order to allow for the discussions that the president is engaged in to try to find common ground with Republicans to bear fruit so that we can reduce our deficit in a balanced way and eliminate the sequester entirely,” Carney said.

He stressed that the Reid plan is just a “Band-Aid.” “The fact is, on dealing with the sequester, Congress has to act,” he said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Raido

Thursday
Mar212013

Proposed Gun Control Legislation Includes Background Checks

Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., will move forward with Senate Democrats’ gun control legislation, a move designed to set the Senate up to start working on the controversial legislation when they return from recess on April 8.

The bill will include a proposal for universal background checks, a controversial measure that faces an uphill climb in the Senate.

Democratic leadership aides say Reid is still leaving the door open to replace the language on background checks – as passed this month out of the Senate Judiciary Committee – with a compromise package, should one emerge over the next few weeks.

“I hope negotiations will continue over the upcoming break to reach a bipartisan compromise on background checks, and I am hopeful that they will succeed,” Reid said in a statement Thursday. “If a compromise is reached, I am open to including it in the base bill. But I want to be clear: in order to be effective, any bill that passes the Senate must include background checks.”

Also included in the bill will be straw purchasing and trafficking provisions, aides say.

The base bill will not include the controversial ban on assault weapons, as decided this week by Senate Majoirty Leader Harry Reid.

But the assault weapons ban will get its vote, Reid promises -- as President Obama did, as an amendment to the bill. “Once debate begins, I will ensure that a ban on assault weapons, limits to high-capacity magazines, and mental health provisions receive votes, along with other amendments. In his State of the Union address, President Obama called for all of these provisions to receive votes, and I will ensure that they do,” Reid said in a statement.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Mar012013

Obama, Republican Leaders to Meet as Sequester Cuts Look Likely

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The budget ax is about to fall, and there's little lawmakers in Washington are doing to stop it.

Despite a parade of dire warnings from the White House, an $85 billion package of deep automatic spending cuts appears poised to take effect on Friday.

The cuts -- known in Washington as the sequester -- will hit every federal budget, from defense to education, and even the president's own staff.

On Capitol Hill, Senate Democrats and Republicans each staged votes on Thursday aimed at substituting the indiscriminate across-the-board cuts with more sensible ones.  Democrats also called for including new tax revenue in the mix.  Both measures failed.

Leaders on both sides publicly conceded that the effort was largely for show, with little chance the opposing chamber would embrace the other's plan.  They will discuss their differences with President Obama at the White House on Friday.

"It isn't a plan at all, it's a gimmick," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Thursday of the Democrats' legislation.

"Republicans call the plan flexibility" in how the cuts are made, said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.  "Let's call it what it is.  It is a punt."

The budget crisis is the product of a longstanding failure of Congress and the White House to compromise on plans for deficit reduction.  The sequester itself, enacted in late 2011, was intended to be so unpalatable as to help force a deal.

Republicans and Democrats, however, remain gridlocked over the issue of taxes.

Obama has mandated that any steps to offset the automatic cuts must include new tax revenue through the elimination of loopholes and deductions.  House Speaker John Boehner and the GOP insist the approach should be spending cuts-only, modifying the package to make it more reasonable.

"Do we want to close loopholes?  We sure do.  But if we are going to do tax reform, it should focus on creating jobs, not funding more government," Boehner said, explaining his opposition to Obama's plan.

Boehner, McConnell, Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi will huddle with Obama at the White House on Friday for the first face-to-face meeting of the group this year.

"There are no preconditions to a meeting like this," White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Thursday.  "The immediate purpose of the meeting is to discuss the imminent sequester deadline and to avert it."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb272013

Obama to Meet with Congressional Leaders After Sequester

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- They are finally going to have a meeting.

A congressional source with direct knowledge of the plans tells ABC News' Jonathan Karl that the top four congressional leaders -- Speaker of the House John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell -- will meet with President Obama at the White House on Friday to attempt to negotiate a way to avoid the across-the-board spending cuts that both sides have said should be avoided.

This meeting -- the very first one the president has had with Republican leaders to talk about the across-the-board cuts known as the sequester -- will come after the cuts actually go into effect, which is midnight Thursday.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney would not confirm the meeting, but the source tells ABC News that the White House reached out to the Congressional leadership on Tuesday afternoon to request the meeting.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Feb032013

Sen. Harry Reid: Any Budget Deal Must Include Revenue

ABC/Martin H. Simon(NEW YORK) -- Asserting that “the American people” are on his side, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said during an exclusive interview for “This Week” that any that deal reached between Republicans and Democrats to avoid the looming sequester must — “without any question” – include revenue.

“The American people are on our side. The American people don’t believe in these austere things. We believe that the rich should contribute. We believe we should fill those tax loopholes — get rid of them, I should say. And that’s where we need to go,” Reid said. “And I’ve got a pretty good fan base for that: the American people. Republicans, Democrats, and Independents.”

Reid confirmed his position on revenue would apply to any deal put into place to avert a government shutdown or lift the debt ceiling as well. This puts him directly at odds with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, who said earlier this month on “This Week” that the ”tax issue is finished.” But Reid — invoking the GOP’s 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney — suggested a deal could include such things as the elimination of oil and gas subsidies, or what he called “low hanging fruit.” The Nevada senator also pushed back when asked if he was sidelined during the so called “fiscal cliff” negotiations, saying he played the “bad cop” during that period.

Reid was also asked about comprehensive immigration reform, which has moved to the front of the president’s legislative agenda for his second term. Reid expressed confidence that legislation would pass the Senate, adding that it would be a “bad day” for Republicans and America if it did not. When asked if certain parts of the legislation — such as the definition of border security or how gays are treated under the bill — could mean Republicans might not want to sign on, Reid called them “excuses.”

“It’s certainly gonna pass the Senate. And it would be a bad day for our country and a bad day for the Republican Party if they continue to [stand] in the way of this,” he said. “If they’re looking for an excuse not to support this legislation, this is another one. But the American people are past excuses. They want this legislation passed.”

On legislation aimed at curbing gun violence following the murder of 20 children in Newtown, Conn. in December, Reid, who said he has “lots of guns” that he keeps for “sentimental reasons,” said he wants to “get something done on guns” and expressed support for universal background checks. He said he’d consider other proposals such as limiting gun magazine capacity and said he’d “take a look” at the ban on assault weapons, which Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., strongly supports. Reid added that the influential NRA would not single-handedly prevent action to prevent gun violence.

“I’ve been supported by the NRA on occasion. I know Wayne LaPierre, he’s always been extremely pleasant to me. We have a good relationship. So, I am not here to demean the organization,” he said. “Just because they resist it doesn’t mean we can’t do things.  I mean– we have a lotta special interest groups that come and complain about things…we’ll listen to them and make the right decision.

Lastly, Reid stood by Sen. Bob Menendez  he was asked about recent allegations against the New Jersey senator involving a political donor. Reid said he was comfortable with Menendez serving as chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee while he was being investigated.

“He was a leader in the House.  He’s been a leader in the Senate.  He’s chairman of that committee.  He’ll do a wonderful job.  And he’s also an integral part of what we do with immigration reform.  So, I have the utmost confidence in him,” he said. “I have confidence he did nothing wrong.  But that’s what investigations are all about.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jan082013

Republican Senator Calls Majority Leader an 'Idiot'

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is having a hard time lately smoothing out the partisan divide on Capitol Hill.

During the height of the "fiscal cliff" negotiations at the end of December, House Speaker John Boehner hurled a nasty invective at the Nevada Democrat for suggesting Boehner was more interested in keeping his job than doing what was right for the nation.

Now, Reid has raised the ire of Louisiana Republican Sen. David Vitter for suggesting that the devastation wrought by 2005's Hurricane Katrina was not as serious as what residents of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut experienced from last October's Hurricane Sandy.

The majority leader's comments from the Senate floor late last week about the foot-dragging for relief to Sandy victims infuriated Vitter, who called Reid "an idiot" for "gravely insulting Gulf Coast residents."

Reid's office then released a statement on Monday, saying that he "misspoke" and that what he was referring to was the "economic impact in a more dense metropolitan area."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jan022013

Report: Boehner Gave Reid More than a Piece of His Mind

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- House Speaker John Boehner reportedly hurled a colorful invective at Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid during the tense negotiations to avert the fiscal cliff.

Politico reports that when Boehner spotted Reid at the White House last Friday, presumably out of President Obama's earshot, the Ohio Republican told the Nevada Democrat, “Go f--- yourself.”

Reid was supposedly taken aback by Boehner’s vitriol, although perhaps he shouldn’t have been.  The senator had earlier gone on the record accusing Boehner of running a “dictatorship” in the House and charging the Republican with worrying more about retaining his speakership than trying to strike a bipartisan deal to avoid ending Bush-era tax breaks for all Americans.

Meanwhile, Politico reports that Boehner was apparently proud of ambushing Reid because he boasted about it to fellow Republicans.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jan012013

Cliff Campaigners? Marco Rubio, Republicans Up for Election Say ‘No’ to Deal

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Who voted “no” on the “fiscal-cliff” deal this morning? Republicans up for re-election in 2016, that’s who.

The Senate passed its last-minute “fiscal-cliff” deal 89-8 at 1:39 a.m. Tuesday and of the eight fiscal naysayers, five are Republicans up for re-election in 2016, one of them a purported White House contender.

The deal would raise taxes on individuals making more than $400,000 and couples making more than $450,000, and tax hikes of any sort have never been popular with Republicans facing re-election.

The bill was brought to the floor by a Democrat up for re-election in 2016, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada (D-Nev.); it was finalized with Republicans, and sold to Democrats, by one who could maybe run for president in 2016 (big maybe): Vice President Joe Biden.

The eight no-voters were:

•    Sen. Michael Bennet, (D-Colo.), up in 2016
•    Sen. Tom Carper, (D-Del.)
•    Sen. Chuck Grassley, (R-Iowa), up in 2016
•    Sen. Tom Harkin, (D-Iowa)
•    Sen. Mike Lee, (R-Utah), up in 2016
•    Sen. Rand Paul, (R-Ky.), up in 2016
•    Sen. Marco Rubio, (R-Fla.), up in 2016
•    Sen. Richard Shelby, (R-Ala.), up in 2016

The three senators who didn’t vote:

•    Sen. Jim DeMint, (R-S.C.), resigned from the Senate
•    Sen. Mark Kirk, (R-Ill.), up in 2016
•    Sen. Frank Lautenberg, (D-N.J.)

It’s not as if the majority of Republicans up for re-election voted “no” on the cliff deal: 24 Republicans will face re-election in 2016, and 19 voted for the deal.

But two names might stick out, among the five who didn’t. Sen. Marco Rubio is widely considered to have a decent shot at the Republican presidential nomination in 2016 and, as Roll Call’s Jonathan Strong aptly tweeted, his “no” vote could put some pressure on another potential White House aspirant, Rep. Paul Ryan, (R-Wis.), who will likely have to vote on this deal in the next couple days. Big votes like this one are the kind that come up in presidential primary debates; last time around, the 2011 debt-limit vote was a topic. Rubio explained in a news  release after the vote that he appreciated the hard work that went into the deal, but “rapid economic growth and spending reforms are the only way out of the real fiscal cliff our nation is facing,” and those “will be made more difficult” by this bill. His full statement:

“I appreciate all the hard work that went into avoiding the so-called ‘fiscal cliff.’ I especially commend Senator McConnell’s efforts to make the best out of a bad situation. Nevertheless, I cannot support the arrangement they have arrived at. Rapid economic growth and spending reforms are the only way out of the real fiscal cliff our nation is facing.

“Thousands of small businesses, not just the wealthy, will now be forced to decide how they’ll pay this new tax and, chances are, they’ll do it by firing employees, cutting back their hours and benefits, or postponing the new hire they were looking to make. And to make matters worse, it does nothing to bring our dangerous debt under control.

“Of course, many Americans will be relieved in the short term that their taxes won’t go up. However in the long run, they will be hurt when employers pass on to them one of the largest tax hikes in decades. Furthermore, this deal just postpones the inevitable, the need to solve our growing debt crisis and help the 23 million Americans who can’t find the work they need.”

Perhaps an unsurprising name on this list is Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), never shy about bucking the policies of his fellow Kentuckian, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). A Rand Paul 2016 presidential run has also been the subject of speculation, albeit more quietly than Rubio’s taken-for-granted status as a GOP star.

Another “no” voter, Utah. Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), is a tea-party star in his own right, having ousted longtime GOP Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah) with help from the Club for Growth at Utah’s 2010 nominating convention, one of the early upsets that ginned up enthusiasm and signaled the 2010 primary bum rush on GOP incumbents.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Dec312012

Fiscal Cliff Talks: President Obama 'Modestly Optimistic'

Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- With less than one day remaining for Congress to reach a budget agreement that would avoid the so-called "fiscal cliff," a senior White House official tells ABC News that President Obama is still "modestly optimistic" that a deal can be struck to prevent middle class taxes from increasing on New Year's Day.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid adjourned his chamber just before 6 p.m. Sunday, ensuring a potential deal could not be voted on before senators return to business Monday morning.

The Nevada lawmaker vowed despite the recess, the parties' leadership would continue negotiations throughout the night.

Vice President Joe Biden has now re-emerged as a key player, and is back in Washington playing "a direct role" in trying to make a deal with Senate Republicans.  Biden has been tapped because of his long-standing relationship with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.

A Democratic source says that McConnell seems to be genuinely interested in getting an agreement.  The news dovetails with reports that the GOP has backed off a key Social Security measure that had stalled negotiations.

According to sources, the row was sparked when the GOP offered a proposal that included a new method of calculating entitlement benefits with inflation.  Called the "Chained Consumer Price Index," or Chained CPI, the strategy has been criticized by some Democrats because it would lower cost of living increases for Social Security recipients.

"We thought it was mutually understood that it was off the table for a scaled-back deal," a Democratic aide said.  "It's basically a poison pill."

Obama has floated Chained CPI in the past as part of a grand bargain, despite opposition from the AARP and within his own party.

Also in the Republican plan brought on Sunday: An extension of the current estate tax and no increase in the debt ceiling.  Higher income earners would see their taxes increase, but at levels "well above $250,000," the sources said.

That "major setback" in the talks was evident on the floor of the Senate Sunday afternoon.

"I'm concerned about the lack of urgency here, I think we all know we are running out of time," McConnell said.  "I want everyone to know I am willing to get this done, but I need a dance partner."

McConnell, R-Ky., said he submitted the Republican's latest offer to Reid, D-Nev., at 7:10 p.m. Saturday and was willing to work through the night.  Reid promised to get back to him at 10 Sunday morning, but has yet to do so.

Why have the Democrats not come up with a counteroffer?  Reid admitted it himself moments later.

"At this stage we're not able to make a counteroffer," Reid said, noting that he's had numerous conversations with Obama, but the two parties are still far apart on some big issues.  "I don't have a counteroffer to make.  Perhaps as the day wears on I will be able to."

McConnell said he believes there is no major issue that is the sticking point but rather, "the sticking point appears to be a willingness, an interest, or frankly the courage to close the deal."

Reid said late Sunday afternoon that the fiscal cliff negotiations were getting "real close" to falling apart completely.

"At some point in the negotiating process, it appears that there are things that stop us from moving forward," he said.  "I hope we're not there but we're getting real close and that's why I still hold out hope that we can get something done.  But I'm not overly optimistic but I am cautiously optimistic that we can get something done."

Reid said there were serious differences between the two sides, starting with Social Security.  He said Democrats are not willing to cut Social Security benefits as part of a smaller, short-term agreement, as was proposed in the latest Republican proposal.

"We're not going to have any Social Security cuts.  At this stage it just doesn't seem appropriate," he said.  "We're open to discussion about entitlement reforms, but we're going to have to take a different direction.  The present status will not work."

Reid said that even 36 hours before the country could go over the cliff, he remains "hopeful" but "realistic," about the prospects of reaching an agreement.

"The other side is intentionally demanding concessions they know we are not willing to make," he said.

The two parties met separately at 3 p.m. Sunday, and before going in, Reid said he hoped there would be an announcement to make on a way forward afterwards.  But as of Sunday evening there was no agreement and no counterproposal.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







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