- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Senate Republicans are preparing to take aim at Majority Leader Harry Reid over the August recess for being “all talk but no action” and helping drag the Democrat-led Congress‘ approval rating to a historic low, according to a document distributed to caucus members.

Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona, chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, is meeting with members yesterday and today to disseminate a message critical of Democrats for endlessly debating the Iraq war, stalling judicial nominations and squandering time on at least 300 investigations of the Bush administration.

“We really ought to be asking why this Democrat leadership won’t allow Congress to move forward on serious policy debates,” Mr. Kyl said, when asked about the talking-points memorandum he is circulating.

“Americans have been disappointed by a majority leadership that stages one show debate after another, while the only consistent legislative work getting done is the renaming of post offices.”

The document, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Times, criticizes Mr. Reid for letting legislative priorities languish, including the drop of the Defense Department budget authorization bill — which would have approved funds for equipment and troops’ pay increases — after Republicans last week blocked an amendment that set a spring deadline for a pullout.

It highlights that only one of the Democrats’ legislative priorities — a minimum-wage increase — became law in the 200 days since they took control of Congress, and that a recent Rasmussen Reports poll shows that just 16 percent of voters approve of Congress‘ performance — well below President Bush’s 38 percent rating.

“The only thing languishing are Republican talking points,” Reid spokesman Jim Manley said. “The fact is Democrats have delivered on their promise to move the country in a new direction.”

Although the minimum-wage increase is the only campaign promise to become law so far, Mr. Manley pointed to other accomplishments, including the passage of appropriations bills, energy legislation, Hurricane Katrina disaster relief and more than 80 hearings on the war in Iraq.

He also said Mr. Reid, Nevada Democrat, planned to pass and get signed into law a lobbying and ethics reform bill and homeland security legislation before the monthlong summer recess begins Aug. 6.

“This war debate is not going away any time soon,” he said, adding that Republicans “don’t have an agenda, only a strategy to slow, stall and stop.”

The comment reflects Democrats’ plans to counter criticisms during the summer break with charges of Republican obstructionism.

Republicans have voiced dissatisfaction with Mr. Reid’s management of the Senate, but the message coalesced following last week’s all-night troop-withdrawal debate, which culminated with the delay of the Defense Department authorization bill.

“Well, it’s certainly the lowest point I can recall in my 20-some-odd years here, and I think it is an illustration of why this new majority has sunk to a 14 percent approval rating in the polls,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, said after Mr. Reid yanked the bill from the floor.

“There are a whole lot of other extremely important things in this bill that need to be dealt with, and apparently we’re just going to put it aside, I guess indefinitely, maybe forever,” he said.