With Democrats and Republicans squabbling fiercely over how to reopen the government, it’s Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid — the former boxer — who compares lawmakers’ bickering to a schoolyard brawl.
“We are not going to be bullied,” Reid said Tuesday. “We have done everything we can, and we’ve done it very reasonably.”
As Reid’s 54-seat majority is tested to the limit by the first government shutdown in 17 years, the Nevada Democrat’s strategy has been simple: Do not give in to Republican demands to undo, excise, or delay any part of the Affordable Care Act.
It’s a strategy that has pressure-tested unity among Senate Democrats, who have so far stood fast in a series of high-profile votes to turn away House proposals that would have ended the standoff but handed Republicans something to brag about.
“This is a democracy. This cannot be how we govern,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. “And I think that has been one of Harry Reid’s strongest messages: We cannot hand them the stick to beat us with.”
Whether Reid can hold Democrats together as the shutdown drags on — there is no sign that it will end in coming days — remains unclear. But House Republicans have already scaled back their offers, going from a full repeal of Obamacare, to a full delay, to a delay of a piece of the program. Reid, backed by his caucus and President Obama, has remained steady in his insistence that House Republicans adopt the continuing resolution the Senate passed on Friday.
The latest House suggestion involves adopting a piecemeal approach to funding government, with individual resolutions to fund national parks, Veterans Affairs, and the District of Columbia. Reid shot that idea down, too.
“Here’s their plan: Some of the rabble-rousers over there have said what they want to do is take little pieces of the government “¦ and this will go on for weeks, but what won’t get funded is Obamacare,” he said, adding that “this is not serious.”
Republicans say Reid refuses to negotiate and compromise, and that he’s making life difficult for some Democrats facing reelection next year. But if any Democrats are sweating, they have nonetheless stood by Reid.
“I think he’s been very clear and absolutely right about what’s at stake here,” said Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md. “So I give him very high marks. It’s clear we have the votes here in the [Senate] to keep the government open. The House won’t allow a vote on it. I think Senator Reid’s been very effective in pointing that out.”
Senate Democrats insist that House Republicans will ultimately shoulder the brunt of public anger over the shutdown, but that’s a tide that could run both ways. Thus far, Reid and his allies don’t seem to fear any backlash.
“He’s done a really good job,” Warren said. “He’s held everyone together.”
What We're Following See More »
"Even as he acknowledged the importance of an open internet, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai on Wednesday set his telecom agency on a course to scrap the tough, broad net neutrality protections imposed by the Obama administration. During a major speech in Washington, D.C., Pai outlined the need for a total revision of existing federal rules that seek to prevent companies like AT&T, Charter, Comcast and Verizon from blocking or slowing down web content, including the movie or music offerings from their competitors." Separately, Pai told Reason's Nick Gillespie that the Clinton Administration "basically got it right when it came to digital infrastructure. We were not living in a digital dystopia in the years leading up to 2015."
The White House on Wednesday laid out its plan for tax reform, with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin saying it would be "the biggest tax cut and the largest tax reform in the history of our country." The tax code would be broken down into just three tax brackets, with the highest personal income tax rate cut from 39.6 percent to 35 percent. The plan would also slash the tax rate on corporations and small businesses from 35 percent to 15 percent. "The White House plan is a set of principles with few details, but it’s designed to be the starting point of a major push to urge Congress to pass a comprehensive tax reform package this year," said National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement today established the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE), as called for in a presidential executive order from January. The new office's website states that its staff "will be guided by a singular, straightforward mission—to ensure victims and their families have access to releasable information about a perpetrator and to offer assistance explaining the immigration removal process."