On the June 29 edition of MSNBC Live, NBC News congressional correspondent Chip Reid asserted that after the failure of a June 28 cloture motion on the Senate immigration bill, "[t]he Democratic Congress is a big loser because, more and more, Republicans are accusing them of being a do-nothing Congress." However, in uncritically reporting Republicans' description of the Democratic majority as "do-nothing," Reid ignored the dominant role Senate Republicans played in killing the immigration bill. He also ignored what Senate Minority Whip Trent Lott (R-MS) (who voted for the cloture motion) has described as the party's "strategy of being obstructionist."
A majority of Democrats voted for cloture (33-14) on the immigration bill -- which would have ended debate and permitted a vote on the bill itself -- while a majority of Republicans voted against (12-37), thereby blocking the bill. (Independent Sens. Joseph I. Lieberman (CT) and Bernie Sanders (VT) voted yea and nay, respectively.) In a June 29 article, Washington Post staff writer Jonathan Weisman described the failed cloture vote as "a major blow to Bush, dealt largely by members of his own party." Weisman further reported that Lott warned Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) that Republican enemies of the bill "were becoming the uncompromising faces of the Republican Party, a prospect that could set it back for years as the Latino vote grows in power."
Several recent news reports have highlighted a broader pattern of obstruction on the part of Senate Republicans. An April 18 Roll Call article quoted Lott saying, "The strategy of being obstructionist can work or fail ... For [former Senate Democratic Leader Tom] Daschle (S.D.), it failed. For [Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid [D-NV], it succeeded, and so far it's working for us." As blogger Steve Benen noted, Roll Call reported on June 26 that Senate "Republicans have played their part to the hilt, objecting to just about every major piece of legislation that Reid has tried to bring up."
From the June 29 edition of MSNBC Live:
CONTESSA BREWER (anchor): Do -- is it the common-sense wisdom there on Capitol Hill that the president lost out most of all?
REID: Probably politically, but I tell you, the list of losers is about as long as my arm. Let's start with all Americans because the border is broken, and this bill wasn't perfect, but it did a lot to -- to heal the border, to tighten the border, and that's not going to be done, and it's expected that illegal immigrants are going to continue to pour across that border. Secondly, all the businesses that said they so desperately needed those guest workers are big losers here, and the economy could be a loser, too. The 12 million illegal immigrants who will continue to live in the shadows, and if they're abused by employers, they can do nothing about it -- they're big losers here. The Democratic Congress is a big loser because, more and more, Republicans are accusing them of being a do-nothing Congress, and they sure would like to have had something that they could say, "Hey, look what we accomplished." But I think you're right -- most people point the finger at the president when they say, "Who was the biggest loser here?" because he put so many eggs in this basket. He had two cabinet secretaries practically live up here in recent months trying to get this thing through. He put a lot of prestige on the line and has nothing but failure to show for it, Contessa.
BREWER: Chip Reid, thank you.