Yesterday, The Hill reported that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) may not have the votes to begin debate on a $15 billion jobs package. Reid, for his part, is reaching out to Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA), in the hopes that he will provide support to overcome a GOP filibuster. A Reid spokesman said simply that “the vote is in the hands of Republicans.”
However, as Roll Call reported, the Senate Republican leadership is trying to persuade members to simply block the legislation. And this push comes after the GOP spent an afternoon huddled with more than 100 lobbyists, trying to figure out how to react to Reid’s bill:
Senate Republican leadership staff are huddling with K Streeters this afternoon over Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) decision to forgo a bipartisan jobs package in favor of a smaller, targeted plan…The business community has been up in arms since Reid decided to ditch a bipartisan job-creation bill last week.
And this is not the first time that Republicans have organized a pow-wow with lobbyists in order to devise a strategy and gin up support for killing a significant Democratic initiative:
— Regulatory Reform: In December, more than 100 financial services lobbyists met with House Republicans “to try to fight back against financial regulatory overhaul legislation.” According to one lobbyist who attended the meeting, the Republican message was “look, you all oppose this bill, but only a few of you have come out publicly.”
— Health Care Reform: In June, Senate Republicans met with health care lobbyists in order to “recruit stakeholders to oppose options such as a government-funded insurance plan and a mandate requiring employers to help pay for heath insurance.” “We’re trying to engage them because as more and more of this comes out, we think a lot of them have been told out of fear to keep silent,” said Sen. John Thune (R-SD). Republicans also requested that health care lobbyists be given at least 72 hours to review any legislative language in the Senate Finance Committee.
— Cap and Trade: In June, Senate Republicans organized a “hearing” with energy industry representatives, which the GOP characterized as an attempt “to poison the well for cap-and-trade policies.”
A report released this week by the Center for Responsive Politics revealed that $1.3 million was spent on lobbying for every hour that Congress was in session last year. All told, lobbyists’ clients spent more than $3.47 billion last year on efforts to influence legislation, which was a new record, topping the $3.3 billion spent in 2008.
Cross-posted on The Wonk Room.