- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Sen. Harry Reid puts politics before jobs for 13 million out-of-work Americans. Look no further than his decision this week to put off a vote that would help small businesses grow and create jobs. Instead, the Nevada Democrat is wasting time looking for lifetime employment for 17 well-paid judges. The Democratic Senate needs to stop obstructing and start prioritizing.

On Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell blasted the other side of the aisle for putting controversial judicial nominees at the top of the agenda. “If the Democrat-controlled Senate turns to something contentious instead, then they’ll be saying two things to the American people,” the Kentucky Republican explained on the floor. “First, that they’re just not serious when they say they’re focused on jobs. And second, that they’d rather spend their time manufacturing gridlock to create the illusion of conflict.”

Mr. Reid responded: “It’s not a major job-creation bill, as Sen. McConnell said this morning.” The majority leader told reporters, “I don’t know logically what in the world they’re talking about. If the American people or each of you need another demonstration of what obstructionism is, then you’re all brain dead.”

The bill to give business startups easier access to capital and lessen the costs and regulations for initial public offerings sailed through the House on Thursday, 390 to 23. Conflicted Democrats didn’t want to give the GOP a win on economic issues, but this was an idea they had previously supported. After the White House released a statement giving President Obama’s endorsement, they rushed to hit the green “yea” button on the voting machines.

Mr. Reid ended the bipartisanship Monday, saying on the floor that he couldn’t move quickly on the House-passed bill “because we don’t have the bill yet from the House.” The document actually had been received in the Senate five days earlier, immediately after it passed the House.

Claiming legislation got lost in the 230 yards or so between the two chambers in the Capitol is just one of Mr. Reid’s stalling tactics. He also wants to change the bill or write a new version, which would force a conference committee and delay the president’s signature for enactment.

Senate Democrats want to strip out or change proposals in the House-passed legislation which were ideas from Sen. Scott Brown, Massachusetts Republican and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson, Texas Republican. The objective is to ensure no one in the GOP can claim credit for a good measure, even if playing those games hurts the American people.

Before the House scheduled its vote, Republican leaders predicted this logjam. A realistic House Majority Leader Eric Cantor told The Washington Times, “It’s up to Harry Reid whether he’s going to be an obstructionist or actually join the bipartisan effort to help small businesses.”

Rarely in Washington do you see Republicans and Democrats agreeing on major legislation, and the likelihood drops to almost zero in an election year. Mr. Reid ought to join House Democrats in embracing the bipartisan nature of the bill by putting it up for a vote.

Emily Miller is a senior editor for the Opinion pages at The Washington Times.