“Democrats' priorities are clear: We're protecting middle-class families every way we can. Tomorrow's votes will show where the Republicans' priorities are,” said Senate majority leader Harry Reid in a floor speech on Friday.
“These votes will very clearly demonstrate who supports the middle class,” he added. “They can pretend we can afford to give billionaires another handout, even though we know we can't.”
Senate Republicans, citing Friday’s unemployment figures, dismiss these votes as political theater. “This morning, we learned unemployment is now at 9.8 percent, even higher than last month. And Democrats are responding with a vote to slam job creators with a massive tax increase,” said Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell on the Senate floor on Friday.
“Millions of out-of-work Americans don't want show votes or finger-pointing contests. They want jobs. Americans don't want to see meaningless theatrics in Congress,” he added.
Both Senators Reid and McConnell are highly skilled floor managers with a comprehensive grasp of Senate procedure. They have battled the Senate to a stalemate for two years. But the GOP gain of six Senate seats in the November elections gives McConnell a new edge – and a formidable new management problem in leading a caucus with a significantly stronger conservative wing.