Reid: "I don’t work for Obama"Democrats must be “very, very careful” to avoid overreaching and will not rubber-stamp President-elect Obama’s policies,
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Tuesday.
In an interview with The Hill, Reid said it is essential for Obama and congressional Democrats to work closely with Republicans in the new Congress. He added that 2009 is very different from 1993, the last time Democrats controlled both Congress and the White House.
Back then, Reid said, Democrats had controlled the House for decades and behaved as though the opposition did not exist. This time around, their recent stint in the minority would give them a commitment to bipartisanship.
“Even though we’re one short of 60 [senators in the Democratic Conference], I don’t want to ever have to depend on cloture,” Reid said. “We may have to do that, but it will be with the support of a few Republicans.”
Reid, who lambasted the GOP-led Congress for being a rubber stamp for President Bush, indicated that he will not bow to the Obama administration.
Reid stated, “I don't believe in the executive power trumping everything... I believe in our Constitution, three separate but equal branches of government.”“If Obama steps over the bounds, I will tell him. … I do not work for Barack Obama. I work with him,” he said.
In December, Vice President Dick Cheney said President-elect Obama will “appreciate” the expansion of the executive branch's power over the last eight years. During an interview on Rush Limbaugh’s radio show, Cheney predicted that Obama will not cede that authority back to Congress.
While Cheney has been a regular at the Senate GOP policy lunches over the past eight years, Reid recently said Vice President-elect Biden will not be allowed to sit in while Democrats discuss legislative strategies over lunch. The move is part of Reid’s attempt to separate the executive and legislative branches, which moved in unison between 2001 and 2006.
The Democratic leader also defended Leon Panetta, Obama’s reported selection to head the CIA.
Reid said the Obama administration should have told lawmakers about the pick, saying incoming White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel “would be the first to admit that he didn’t tell enough people on this. I talked to him [on Tuesday].”
Vice President-elect Joe Biden admitted Tuesday that the incoming administration made an error.
“I'm still a Senate man, I always think this way, and it’s always a good idea to talk to the requisite members of Congress,” Biden said. “It was just a mistake.”
Still, Reid believes Panetta, with whom he served in the House, should be embraced by senators: “There is nothing wrong with Leon Panetta.”
Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) have voiced concern that Panetta lacks sufficient experience to head the agency. Feinstein is the Intelligence Committee chairwoman; Rockefeller led the panel during the last Congress.
Reid noted that Panetta has extensive experience in government, pointing out that he served as head of the Office of Management and Budget and as President Clinton’s chief of staff.
“Has he been a CIA agent? The answer is no,” Reid said. “Has he been in [CIA] briefings at the White House? The answer is yes. He is a very smart, very honest intellectual person.”
The 69-year-old Democrat has made phone calls to his colleagues to rally support for Panetta’s nomination.
more in the sauce
.Well, that's some tough talk. Good to know that Reid would never roll over for a president.