Bizarre as it seems, the Senate Republican leadership seems determined to wage war on any initiative designed to create jobs or help the jobless. For months, they held off on extending unemployment insurance. They have refused to permit Congress even to vote on measures designed to help states avoid massive layoffs of teachers and other critical public employees. This morning, they revealed their plan to prevent a vote on a bill that would provide financial assistance for creating small-business jobs.
And yesterday, they used parliamentary maneuvering to guarantee that there won't be a vote on creating clean-energy jobs before senators go home for the August recess. The Republicans exploited the Senate rules to require that the Senate spend almost a full week of floor time on a post-cloture debate on unemployment insurance, even though the vote on cloture made clear that the Senate would enact the extension after months of obstructionism
Eating up this week of floor time has forced Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to abandon the plan to pass a comprehensive energy and climate bill that would generate millions of new clean-energy jobs, and move instead to a very slimmed-down version that will deal primarily with the immediate need to deal with reforms of oil drilling, oil-spill cleanup, and perhaps some modest steps toward energy independence and clean energy.
It's pretty obvious by now that Mitch McConnell's game plan is to prevent economic recovery, in the hope of profiting in the November elections. Even by the standards of Washington, this takes cynicism to new heights.
Our job is to use the Senate's recess to demand that when Republican senators return to Washington they stand up to their leader and insist that the Senate do its job and at least vote on bills that would create jobs and protect the environment. It's called doing the public's business, and it's what we pay them for. And those Democrats, like Ben Nelson of Nebraska, who have cooperated with McConnell should be told in no uncertain terms: "We pay you to vote -- not to obstruct efforts to get us out of this recession."
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