Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced Wednesday that GOP Senators will block any legislation from coming to the Senate floor until two key economic issues are addressed: funding the government — the “continuing resolution” which must pass to prevent a government shutdown — and the extension of the Bush-era tax cuts.
In a letter signed by all 42 members of the GOP caucus, delivered to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), this morning, Republicans wrote:
“With little time left in this Congressional session, legislative scheduling should be focused on these critical priorities.”
“While there are other items that might ultimately be worthy of the Senate’s attention, we cannot agree to prioritize any matters above the critical issues of funding the government and preventing a job-killing tax hike.”
McConnell said that members of his caucus are united in the pledge to use procedural votes to prevent any other non-economic issues — including the new START treaty, the DREAM Act, or the defense authorization bill that contains a potential repeal of the military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy – from coming to the floor for debate.
“Republicans have pleaded with Democrats to put aside their wish-list – to focus on the things Americans want us to focus on,” McConnell said on the Senate floor. “They’ve ignored us. The voters repudiated their agenda at the polls. They’ve ignored them.”
Reid, also speaking on the Senate floor, labeled McConnell’s tactic as “very cynical, but very obvious and very transparent.”
“With this letter, they have simply put in writing a political strategy Republicans have pursued this entire Congress,” Reid said. “Namely: obstruct, delay; obstruct, delay.”
In a statement released Wednesday, the conservative Republican political action group GoProud’s exective director, Jimmy LaSalvia said:
“Senate Republicans are absolutely right. It is time that Democrats in the Senate stop playing political games with our economy. If Democrats are truly interested in getting to other important lame-duck issues, like the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, then they should act immediately to prevent jobs-killing tax increases. The American people are watching, now is the time for Democrats to decide what they want more – tax increases or repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. The choice is theirs.”
“Time and again GOProud continues to undermine the work that LGBT organizations are trying to accomplish, regardless party affiliation,” said Linsey Pecikonis, spokesperson for National Stonewall Democrats in an e-mail. “Instead of uniting our community around a cause that crosses party lines, like Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal, they continue to go after our collective community to gain GOP political capital.”
Michael Mitchell, Executive Director of the National Stonewall Democrats released this statement upon learning of the letter from the GOP senators:
“Today, all 42 GOP senators showed their true colors when they signed a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid stating they would obstruct all Senate business until they get their way on tax cuts for the wealthy.
The GOP is trying to deflect attention away from the fact that the refuse to budge on what a large majority of Americans, and a commensurate number of the military, want: a repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. And they’re brazenly using lesbian and gay soldiers as ransom.
Their behavior would be shocking if it wasn’t part of their normal playbook. Again, the American people deserve much, much better. Unfortunately, we’re not going to get it from the Republicans.”