Reid Says GOP Being “Led Like Puppets” by Grover Norquist

As the Senate this week takes up the next piece of the jobs bill, a $70 billion bill to rebuild roads, bridges and infrastructure, Senate Majority Leader, D-NV., today took aim at anti-tax activist Grover Norquist for holding back Senate Republicans.

“My Republican friends, these poor folks, are being led like puppets by Grover Norquist,” Reid said today following the Senate Democrats weekly caucus luncheon, “They are giving speeches that we should compromise on our deficit but never do they compromise on Grover Norquist. He is their leader.”

Norquist is the leader of Americans for Tax Reform, which administers a pledge, signed by most Republicans in Congress and the Senate and a handful of Democrats, that the lawmakers won’t raise taxes.

Republicans have been consistently against the provision within each piece of the jobs bill that the Senate has plucked out and attempted, to no avail, to pass because of their opposition to the included tax on millionaires as a way to pay for the measure. In the most recent piece of Obama’s jobs bill the Senate is taking up, the “Rebuild America Jobs Act” which invests $50 billion in immediate projects for roads, rails and airports and another $10 billion for a National Infrastructure Bank, the bill is paid for by a 0.7% surcharge of Americans making over $1 million.

Senator Reid today said that he wants to get their jobs bill done, “but it’s impossible to do with Grover Norquist leading the charge for the Republicans.”

Norquist responded via twitter to Reid, tweeting this afternoon, “Hey Harry Reid: if I became a Buddhist monk and moved to Himalayas no pledge taker would help you raise taxes. They Promised their voters.”

Senate Minority Leader McConnell, R-KY., said the Senate should focus their time on passing legislation that has bipartisan support, noting that the Democratic plan rights now seems to be to just push bills, like the current infrastructure jobs bill, that they know can’t pass and then “complain” when they aren’t. McConnell said he will likely offer a Republican alternative to the infrastructure bill this week, nothing that infrastructure is “pretty popular” but not in its current form with tax increases.

Senate Republicans are also putting pressure on Reid this week to take up another piece of Obama’s jobs bill, legislation which repeals a requirement that governments withhold 3% of payments to contractors, which the House of Representatives passed last week.

The Senate has failed to reach an agreement on the measure two weeks ago. Today Reid suggested the measure should be amended in the Senate.

“I think we should amend it and make sure that those people who are not delinquent in their taxes, they get the benefit of what we’re trying to do,” Reid said, “Those that are not don’t. Those that are delinquent in their taxes, you’d still withhold the money from them.”