WASHINGTON — Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is accusing the Senate Democratic leadership of throwing a “bomb into the Senate” and alienating Republicans by proposing new rules that would limit the GOP’s power in the body.
In a news conference at the Capitol on Tuesday, McConnell questioned the post-election judgment of Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid proposing changes to filibuster rules that would limit the power of Republicans to stop legislation in the Senate.
He suggested that Reid’s proposal threatens the possibility of bipartisanship cooperation.
“The last thing on my list would have been to throw a bomb into the Senate, have it blow up and have everybody mad as heck,” McConnell said, referencing Reid’s filibuster proposals after the election. “I’m just perplexed about the judgment on display here.”
McConnell told reporters that if he “were the leader of the majority right now” the “first thing on my agenda would be, ‘Now, how can I reach out to the minority?’”
“We’ve got big issues that can only be solved on a bipartisan basis,” McConnell argued.
Reid is calling for reforms that would limit the minority’s ability to filibuster. He says Republican “have abused” the use of the filibuster, therefore making it “almost an impossible task” to get bills passed.
McConnell argued that Reid’s bomb-throwing is politically misguided as Congress and President Barack Obama race to make a deal on the “fiscal cliff” before the end of the year.
“This is the perfect time to solve the single biggest problem confronting the future of our country,” he said.
Calling for entitlement reform, McConnell gave four historical examples of major legislation passed during times of divided government.
That includes Republican President Ronald Reagan and Democratic Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill raising the age of Social Security as well as passing comprehensive tax reform, and Democratic President Bill Clinton and the Republican Congress passing welfare reform while balancing the country’s budget.
“There’s some things good about divided government,” McConnell said. “It’s the best time to do really hard stuff.”
McConnell argued that “the only way we can solve our long-term debt and deficit problem is to fix the unsustainable growth rates in our very popular entitlement programs.”
“I hope we can put all of this divisiveness behind us, and build confidence and relationships on a bipartisan basis, which would help us get there at the end of the year,” he said.