Reid, McConnell stake out different positions on jobless bill

McClatchy Washington BureauJanuary 7, 2014 

Republicans Congress

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky.


The Senate's leaders illustrated why there's a stalemate over extended emergency benefits, as Republicans insisted on offsets while Democrats insisted there's a true emergency.

Republicans and Democrats met privately Tuesday, for the first time since the new session  of Congress began this week.

Afterwards, Majority Leader Harry Reid said he'd listen if Republicans offer "something that's serious" to pay for the benefits' $6.5 billion price tag.

"I'll talk to them. But right now, everyone should understand the low-hanging fruit is gone. We've scavengered every place we could go," Reid said.

"I talked to the White House an hour or so ago, talked to Jack Reed. We know how desperate these 1.2 million Americans are. But we have to be realistic, too. We know the Republicans are not going to allow us to close these long overdue tax loopholes, so they come up with all this chicanery, like whacking Obamacare more."

He would not rule out an offset, though.

"The answer is, we'll take a look if they have something that's serious," Reid said.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., was annoyed that, at the moment, senators can't try to amend the jobless bill.

"We begin the Senate new year the way we ended the Senate last year, a dysfunctional Senate almost entirely the responsibility of the majority leader," McConnell said.

"This really needs to change. The American people sent all of us here, expected us to have an opportunity to have an input, to be able to offer amendments, to be able to get votes, to be able to advance legislation. I hope this will stop in the near future.

"Second point I would make is clearly there's been a full-scale effort here by the president and his allies to change the subject away from Obamacare."



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