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Campaign Themes Will Dominate Senate’s Live Quorum

Senate Republicans are hoping to use Majority Leader Harry Reid’s live quorum Monday night against the Nevada Democrat by aggressively attacking Democrats’ priorities and tax positions.

Led by Senate Republican Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), Republicans are planning to battle with Reid throughout Monday afternoon and evening, as both parties look to use the remaining week in session to make their economic case to voters.

Reid announced the live quorum Friday. The move compels members to come to the floor for a debate; Monday’s debate ostensibly concerns Democrats’ anti-outsourcing legislation.

Reid previewed Democrats’ arguments in a floor statement Monday. “So far we’ve seen little to indicate that our friends on the other side of the aisle have any interest in protecting American jobs. … Let’s use this week to remember who we work for: middle-class families and the hardworking people who built this country and will rebuild it toward recovery,” he said.

But given the timing, less than a week before the chamber is expected to adjourn and weeks before tough midterm Congressional elections, the debate is clearly part of Reid’s broader strategy of using the floor as a vehicle for pursuing campaign themes.

A Democratic leadership aide said Monday’s debate is part of an effort by Reid and other leaders to highlight Republican ties to business. According to this aide, Democrats will hold a series of events this week to make their case and are working closely with outside allies in the states to coordinate their attacks.

“Democrats are planning an aggressive push this week to show that Republicans are a party more interested in protecting CEOs who ship American jobs overseas than creating jobs here in America,” the aide said. “While we hope they don’t block the motion to proceed on our offshoring bill, if they do we are poised to hang their record of putting offshoring CEOs ahead of American workers around their necks in the weeks to come.”

Likewise, Republicans are planning to use the rare full Senate debate to their advantage. According to GOP aides, Alexander has lined up dozens of speakers throughout the day and night, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and Conference Vice Chairman John Barrasso (Wyo.), as well as Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Mike Johanns (Neb.), Pat Roberts (Kan.), Jeff Sessions (Ala.), Roger Wicker (Miss.), Scott Brown (Mass.) and George LeMieux (Fla.).

According to GOP talking points for the live quorum, Republicans will focus the bulk of their attacks on tax policy, sharply criticizing Democrats’ plans to try during the lame-duck session to extend the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts only for the middle class.

“Anytime Democrats want to let Republicans talk about jobs and the economy for hours on end, we’ll take it,” a GOP leadership aide said. “Republicans will spend the day talking about ways to help our struggling economy; Democrats will spend the day complaining about process. I can’t think of a better way for us to kick off the last week before the elections.”

Republicans will also attack the outsourcing bill, arguing that it will end up making it more difficult to create jobs in the United States.

But with Democrats occupying the rhetorical high ground on that issue — anti-outsourcing positions consistently poll very high and are popular with independents, Republicans and Democrats alike — it is unlikely the GOP will spend significant time on the bill itself, opting instead to attack Democrats’ broader economic policies.