Senate Republicans' Warning to the Democratic Leaders

GOP fears being sidelined in the planning for economic rescue measures.

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At their first caucus of the new Congress, Senate Republicans focused on how to fix the economy for working families and issued a warning to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid not to shut them out of debates. Key to the daylong session held Wednesday, say aides, were the reviews on the economy provided by three former White House economic advisers: Larry Lindsey of the Bush administration and Martin Feldstein and Peter Wallison of the Reagan administrations.

However, the GOP leaders did not end the meeting with a plan to address the economy other than to help push through Congress items they like in the Obama plan.

Another major topic was the concern that Democrats in the Senate might try to muzzle Republicans as some feel House Democrats did to House GOP members. "We warned Reid that using the Senate procedure to stifle debate and prevent minority amendments would be an affront to the millions of Americans who want their senators' voices heard," said a key GOP leadership aide.

And many members said that despite a shrinking minority, they feel confident that this year won't have them on the sidelines, in part because they see cracks in the united Democratic front over issues like the stimulus plan and the handling of new Illinois Sen. Roland Burris. "We do not start with our heads hung," said the leadership aide. "There are lots of opportunities out there for us."

  • Read more about economic stimulus plans.