Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is watching Republicans in both chambers, one after another, criticize the Wall Street bailout, but he says he's not going to let them off the hook by passing the bill and letting the GOP cast soft "no" votes against the plan.
"This is a Republican proposal, and we need some Republican votes," to help it pass. "At this stage we [Democrats] are working with ourselves."
Reid is essentially calling the Republican bluff on a political gambit. There's a growing chorus of Republicans in both chambers _ especially House conservatives _ who would love to yell about the bailout and vote against it knowing it will pass. In this strategy, Republicans will be able to hit the campaign trail and boast about how they've voted against the Bush administration and Democratic Congress while protecting Main Street.
But Democrats aren't going to let that strategy fly.
House Minority Whip James Clyburn says his leaders are not going to push through a bill that only passes with Democratic votes either.
"I caution the President that we can not pass this package without his party's support," Clyburn said. "If it's a crisis—as Secretary Paulson and Chairman Bernanke argue—and we all need to come together, then as leader of this nation, the President needs to take the lead and bring the country together behind his plan. He must make a case to Congressional Republicans and to the American people that his $700 billion rescue package is the right solution.”
Reid, speaking to reporters Tuesday afternoon, said he had heard House Republicans were in "disarray" over the bailout. But he's going to let Republicans squirm and is in no hurry to pass a bill if they're going to try to gain political leverage by voting against it.
"We now need Republicans to stand up," Reid said. "We need the Republican nominee for president to say what he's for."