Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Sunday said he was not currently considering an elimination of the filibuster for legislation, but he warned that the country could not remain “paralyzed” by Republican obstruction.
Reid and the Senate Democratic majority enraged the GOP last year by moving to cut off the filibuster for most presidential appointees and judicial nominations. They left in place a 60-vote threshold for legislation. But in a rare Sunday television interview, Reid stopped short of categorically ruling out such a move in the future.
“We’re not there yet,” he said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “No, I’m not thinking about that today.”
In the same interview, Reid denounced in his typically harsh rhetoric Republican opposition to a range of Democratic priorities, including an extension of long-term unemployment insurance, raising the minimum range and strengthening background checks for gun purchases.
On all of those issues, the Nevada Democrat said Republican members of Congress were out of step with Republicans nationwide, who, he said, supported the measures in public polls.
“It would seem to me that five Republicans in the Senate should agree with Republicans around the country,” Reid said, referring to the number of Republicans who would need to join 55 Democrats and independents to advance legislation. “They’re out of touch with what’s going on in America today.”
Pressed by moderator Bob Schieffer on rules changes in the Senate, Reid said, “We cannot have a country that’s paralyzed.”
The Senate plans to hold a key test vote on Monday on an extension of emergency jobless benefits for people who have been out of work for 26 weeks or longer. The insurance lapsed in December, cutting off benefits for 1.3 million people.
Reid touted the support of Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), but he said he didn’t know if other Republicans would sign on to ga
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Sunday suggested he was open to extending long-term unemployment benefits as long as the insurance is offset.
Paul also said that any extension of the benefits, which expired for more than one million people late last year, would also need to be paired with job-creating policies – like slashing taxes in areas the hardest hit by unemployment.
“I think it’s wrong to borrow money from China or simply to print up money for it,” Paul said on ABC’s “This Week.”
“What I’ve been saying all along, we have to figure out how to create jobs and keep people from becoming long-term unemployed.”
Paul also reiterated that he believes long-term jobless insurance can dissuade unemployed people from seeking work.
The Senate is scheduled to consider a three-month extension of the jobless benefits without offsets on Monday, a bill which has so far gained very limited support from Republicans.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), also appearing on “This Week,” said that Republicans was proving themselves out of touch by showing little interest in extending the benefits.
Democrats have been making income inequality a bigger part of their political message in recent weeks, and Schumer suggested the unemployment benefits and similar issues will be a big winner for his party in this year’s election.
“They’re going to show themselves so far out of the mainstream, it’s going to hurt them in the elections,” said Schumer.
Schumer also chided Paul for his comments that unemployment benefits can be a disincentive for work, saying the recipients he knows are furiously chasing jobs, and that the insurance can be a lifeline for those out of work.
“I think it’s a little insulting, a bit insulting to American workers when Rand Paul says that unemployment insurance is a disservice.