Reid Kicks Off Session, Calls For Comity

Posted November 17, 2008 at 11:52am

Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) opened the Senate chamber Monday morning for its brief lame-duck session, pleading for bipartisan support to pass an economic stimulus bill before the 111th Congress takes shape next year.

“If ever there were a time to work together this is it,” Reid said.

Reid indicated he plans to offer a comprehensive economic stimulus bill that will include funding for a public works program, food stamps, unemployment insurance, Medicaid reimbursements, as well as a $25 billion loan for the Detroit automotive giants. If Democrats are unable to pass that measure, Reid will then try to move a pared-down stimulus bill that includes the extension of unemployment insurance and auto loan.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) also asked for bipartisan support from Democrats in the coming days.

“We face a simple choice. We can either work together to confront the big issues of the day that neither party is willing or able to tackle on its own, or the majority can instead focus on narrow, partisan issues that appeal to a tiny sliver of the populace,” McConnell said.

McConnell and many of his GOP colleagues have largely resisted a call to bail out the auto industry. Many Republicans argue the loan would amount to a give away for the three largest automotive companies, which have been poorly managed and produced poorly designed cars that Americans simply do not buy.

Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) said Monday that he believes the American auto industry should instead file for bankruptcy so that it can restructure.

“They have a business model that simply does not keep up with the Japanese auto makers,” Kyl said.

Reid also said he would wait until next year to bring up a public lands bill, avoiding a showdown with Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.). That public lands measure was the original purpose of the lame-duck session.