WASHINGTON — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that the way Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was running the Senate was effectively “disenfranchising” a huge block of voters.
McConnell has been tearing into Reid since the Senate returned from its December recess over how he is managing the amendment and voting process. When Reid brings votes to the floor, he does something called “filling the tree,” which prevents Republicans from filing any amendments to the legislation.
On Tuesday, as the Senate struggled to get a deal on passing an unemployment insurance extension, after unemployment insurance expired for over a million Americans at the end of December. Discussions about the bill hit a roadblock over Reid’s initial attempt not to hold votes on any Republican amendments, Reid proposed a plan that would give Republicans amendments. In the plan, each party could have five amendments that would be voted on, and the amendments would require 60 votes to pass. Passage of the bill itself, however, would require only 51 votes.
McConnell, at a press conference Tuesday, described that proposal as “unfair.”
“It guarantees we had no real chance,” McConnell said.
“The practical effect of it is to disenfranchise the people I and my members represent, and, more significantly, a significant number of the people his members represent whose voices are simply not heard in the Senate,” he said.
Asked whether he believed Reid was making a “good faith effort” to get the unemployment insurance bill through, McConnell did not mince words.
“Of course not,” he said.