All 42 GOP Senators have signed a letter vowing to block all legislation until a budget is passed and the Bush-era tax cuts are addressed. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell announced the letter on the Senate floor this morning:
"We write to inform you that we will not agree to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to any legislative item until the Senate has acted to fund the government and we have prevented the tax increase that is currently awaiting all American taxpayers," the letter, which was delivered to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, says. "With little time left in this Congressional session, legislative scheduling should be focused on these critical priorities.”
“The true effect of this letter is to prevent the Senate from acting on many important issues that have bipartisan support,” Reid responded this morning on the Senate floor. According to National Journal, he said the letter codifies a GOP strategy of delaying action “on critical matters, then blaming the Democrats for not addressing the needs of the American people. Very cynical, but very obvious, very transparent.”
Democrats responded to the threat by setting a tax vote for Thursday. But not before considering pulling a procedural fast one on Republicans. According to Politico, Democrats may lump extending unemployment insurance into that vote.
“I believe that passing unemployment insurance is a moral imperative, not a political deal,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) told reporters in the Capitol. “We have millions of American families who are without the resources to have any confidence they can put food on the table the next day. That they can pay the rent, get gasoline in their car so they can go look for a job. I think that making a political deal on unemployment insurance is not what America ought to be about.”
Hoyer, however, told Politico that he is not necessarily in favor of wrapping the votes together, but that it is an option that's been "on the table."
“It is a shame that what we have agreement on is being held hostage by that on which we do not have agreement,” Hoyer said.