A month of summer recess didn’t do much to lower the temperature on Capitol Hill.
Back in Washington, senators wasted no time jumping back into the political fray this afternoon.
With President Obama set to address a joint session of Congress Thursday night, when he’ll outline his plan for job creation, each party’s leaders jostled to position their party as the one that ‘s trying to create jobs and the other as being obstructionist.
”The Republicans have distracted Congress from its most important responsibility: getting our economy back to work and back on track,” Senate Majority Leader Reid, D-Nev., said. “That is in jobs. We’ve been distracted time and time again.”
Reid said the Republican Party is focusing more on “reckless cuts” that “hurt” the economic recovery rather than creating legislation to create jobs.
”It’s time for us to get down to work, as we should have been doing all along. And we look forward to working with Republicans who delayed our ability to work together for eight months. Cooperation has been in short supply in Washington in the last eight months. I’m hopeful we can begin a new work period, that our constituents’ voices will be fresh in our minds.”
Reid said Americans are watching very carefully what Congress does this fall, and “they’re not going to be satisfied with the same obstructionism and gridlock they saw this spring and summer.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., came out swinging — presenting quite a contrast to Speaker of the House John Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who moments before had sent a letter to Obama urging him to find common ground with Republicans and asking that he convene a meeting with the top congressional leadership before his speech “so that we may have the opportunity to constructively discuss your proposals.”
But it didn’t seem as if McConnell had much interest in discussing the president’s proposals.
“While I have no doubt that the president will propose many things on Thursday night that when looked at individually sound pretty good or that he will call bipartisan, I’m equally certain that taken as a whole, they will represent more of the same failed approach that’s only made things worse over the past few years and resulted in fewer jobs than when we started.
“We’ve tried President Obama’s approach. It’s failed. It’s time for something new.”
McConnell said the president’s message was that anyone who didn’t rubber stamp his economic agenda was putting politics above country.
“But with all due respect, Mr. President, there is a much simpler reason for opposing your economic proposals that has nothing whatsoever to do with politics, and it’s this: They don’t work,” McConnell said. “The president can attempt to blame our economic problems all he wants on his political adversaries or his predecessors or natural disasters, but at the end of the day, he’s the one.”
Reid outlined what the Senate hopes to accomplish this working session, which lasts until the next recess, set for Sept. 26 through Oct. 2, for Rosh Hashanah.
Reid said they would focus on legislation to streamline the patent system, extend the reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration, the highway bill, and making sure that FEMA has the resources it needs.
“It won’t be easy for Congress to tackle all the things this fall,” Reid warned. “We only talk about things we need to do this work period. But it has never been more important than now to put our jobs agenda ahead of either party’s political agenda. So I look forward to a productive work period during which colleagues on both sides of the aisle will work together for the good of our economy and the good of this great nation.”