Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., on January 22 said that Democrats will hold fast during the 113th Congress to the guiding principle that a strong middle class is the key to the nation’s success. “Those principles will direct our course as we introduce our first 10 bills today and as we mend our broken immigration system, strengthen our schools and rebuild our roads and bridges,” said Reid.
As the Senate returned to business, and the first day of the 113th Congress, Reid said the chamber “will work to end wasteful tax loopholes and balance thoughtful spending reductions with revenue from the wealthiest among us.” The agenda includes revisiting legislation left over from the previous Congress, starting with the Violence Against Women Bill, followed by the farm bill, reforms to save the United States Postal Service and legislation to aid victims of Hurricane Sandy. Each of the initiatives passed the Senate on a bipartisan basis during the 112th Congress, but was left to languish by the House.
In addition, Reid proposed looking at legislation that may change the rules of the Senate with regard to filibusters as part of an effort to move bills faster through the chamber. “I am hopeful the Republican leader and I will reach an agreement that allows the Senate to operate more effectively,” said Reid. The agenda will also address priorities of President Obama, namely immigration reform, stricter gun control laws and improving the country’s infrastructure.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., countered that the president and Congress should start with spending and debt, arguing that, “if we don’t get a handle on that, nothing else matters. In short, the debate we’re now engaged in over the growing federal debt is about much more than numbers on a page. It’s about the cost of inaction in terms of promises broken, jobs lost, and dreams deferred. And that’s why there’s simply no more time to waste.” McConnell also said that Obama’s inauguration speech was “disappointing” in the sense that it was a return to what he termed “the era of liberalism.” The GOP leader pointedly remarked that, “if the president pursues that kind of agenda, obviously, it’s not designed to bring us together and certainly not designed to deal with the transcendent issue of our era, which is deficit and debt.”
By Jeff Carlson, CCH News Staff