(National Republican Senatorial Committee) – Despite his leading role in crafting the final version of the Democrats’ health care legislation, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has decided to duck out of his official legislative responsibilities in Washington this week to attend a big-ticket fundraiser for his flailing re-election effort back home in Nevada.
According to The Hill newspaper this morning, “Reid is cutting the workweek short so he can fly home to attend an early-morning fundraiser on Friday in Reno with Vice President Joe Biden.”
Reid’s decision to duck out of work comes several weeks after he took to the Senate floor to announce he was cancelling the planned Columbus Day recess, saying at the time, “With all the things going on here [in Washington], it just would not be right for us to take that week off,” as reported by Roll Call.
It also comes on the heels of a recent declaration from fellow Democrat U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the influential Senate HELP Committee, giving Reid full responsibility for the final outcome of the health care legislation: “Our quarterback is Harry Reid. We elected him to that position. He will decide how this is done.”
As Time Magazine noted in its preview of the future of the health care legislation yesterday, “to the extent that anyone’s hand is on the tiller it is Reid’s.”
“It speaks to both the hypocrisy and vulnerability of Harry Reid that health care is taking a back seat this week to his need to fill his campaign coffers,” said National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) spokesman Brian Walsh.
“It really comes down to priorities – Reid’s fellow Democrats have made clear that he’s their ‘quarterback’ for the President’s number one legislative goal, and yet Reid is willing to abdicate these responsibilities for an opportunity to rake in campaign cash,” Walsh continued. “If it was so critical for his fellow lawmakers to stay in Washington and finish health care over the Columbus Day recess, then why does that same standard not apply to Harry Reid himself?”
Reid’s decision to skip work comes days after new polling data showed him trailing multiple potential GOP opponents in hypothetical match-ups. It also comes on the same week that his son, Rory, is kicking off his 2010 Nevada gubernatorial bid.
Perhaps aware of his father’s political peril, Rory has already taken steps to “distance” himself from his unpopular father, who will not attend his son’s announcement Thursday evening, despite being in the state at virtually the same time.