Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s office is criticizing the GOP’s “feigned outrage” in response to comments he made on the Senate floor this morning. In his speech, Reid whacked Republicans for attempting to kill health care reform, comparing their obstructive tactics to those used to prolong slavery and stall women’s suffrage and civil rights.
Instead of joining us on the right side of history, all the Republicans can come up with is this:, ‘slow down, stop everything, let’s start over.’ If you think you’ve heard these same excuses before, you’re right. When this country belatedly recognized the wrongs of slavery, there were those who dug in their heels and said, ‘Slow down, it’s too early, let’s wait, things aren’t bad enough.’
When women spoke up for the right to speak up, they wanted to vote, some insisted they simply, slow down, there will be a better day to do that, today isn’t quite right.
When this body was on the verge of guaranteeing equal civil rights to everyone regardless of the color of their skin, some senators resorted to the same filibuster threats we hear today.
Republicans lashed out.Sen. John Thune called the remarks “inflammatory and irresponsible.” Sen. Tom Coburn said he was “personally offended.” Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison said there’s “no place for language like that.”
Sen. Orrin Hatch said the remarks were “extremely offensive.”
“If you go back into the civil rights debate, it was the Republicans who helped get it through. If you go back to women’s rights, Republicans have always been there,” Hatch continued. “I could go on and on.”
RNC Committee chairman Michael Steele said the comments were “absurd and offensive” and demanded an apology.
“This is inexcusable, deeply insulting and an arrogant abuse of the Democrat party’s unchecked power in Congress,” Steele said in a statement. He also called for Democrats to re-evaluate Reid’s “fitness to lead.”
Now, Reid’s spokesman Jim Manley says, in a statement to TPM, that this outrage is “manufactured.”
It is hard to believe Senate Republicans are making these charges with a straight face.
For the past eight days they’ve done nothing but obstruct health care on the Senate floor and throughout this year have played politics with this and virtually every other issue of importance to the American people.
Today’s feigned outrage is nothing but a ploy to distract from the fact they have no plan to lower the cost of health care, stop insurance company abuses or protect Medicare.
And for those who are counting, Republicans have now held one press conference on manufactured anger and have issued one manual on how to grind the Senate to a halt – but have held zero press conferences and issued zero plans on how to help Americans afford to live a healthy life.
I think it’s safe to say that tensions are running high as the Senate heads into the final stretch of health care reform.
Late update: Sen. John McCain is on the floor now (at about 5:37 p.m. ET) demanding Reid apologize for the remarks.
Late late update: Watch Reid’s remarks:
Additional reporting by Rachel Slajda
Check out the latest updates on the Senate reform debate with the TPM Health Care Wire.