Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012 | 10:14 a.m.
The result of Tuesday’s election, which cost billions of dollars and bled into the wee hours of the West Coast morning, is that the balance of power in Washington will remain the status quo.
But Sen. Harry Reid defies anyone who calls it that.
“We had an overwhelming re-election of the president; we picked up seats in the Senate; we picked up seats in the House,” he told reporters Wednesday morning. “That’s not the status quo.”
But while things may have changed on the margins, the basic math of doing business in Washington has not. And that meant Reid’s clean-up thoughts on Election 2012 sounded a lot like his views on the morning after the 2010 races — and everything he’s been saying for the two years in between.
“Everyone should comprehend, especially my Senate friends, that legislation’s the art of compromise,” Reid said. “Compromise is not a dirty word. I’m willing to negotiate any time, any issue...but we need Republicans to help us.”
Reid spoke about his desire to move forward and turn over a new leaf in Congress, offering that he would “be as conciliatory as possible.”
He used his podium to pick on what he considers the Republican sins of the past two years.
“I repeat, to have the leader of the Republicans in the Senate say his No. 1 goal is to defeat Obama, and that’s how we legislated out there for two years,” Reid said.
He also half-dared Republicans to try objecting when the country next has to raise the debt ceiling, as it soon will. “If it has to be raised, we’ll raise it,” he said.
But he would make no similarly hard-and-fast promises about the timeline for other legislation, nor would he say what the country could expect to see as a first order of business in the new Congress — past the necessity of addressing the fiscal cliff.
Immigration reform? “It’s very, very high on my list,” Reid said, not committing to a timeline. “The only thing we need to get immigration reform done is a few Republican votes.”
On climate change — which President Barack Obama addressed in his victory speech last night — Reid was more noncommittal.
“Climate change is an extremely important issue to me, and I hope we can address it,” he said.
On the fiscal cliff, Reid also kicked the timeline to the Republicans.
“I’m not going to draw any lines in the sand. [House Speaker John Boehner’s] not going to draw any lines in the sand,” Reid said, stressing that getting the wealthiest Americans to contribute more revenue is the only way forward.
“The Republicans have to make a choice. We’re willing to work something out. We’re willing to work it out sooner rather than later. I wouldn’t think they benefit by waiting until sequestration kicks in,” he said.
But if there was one Republican Reid didn’t have harsh words for, it was his Nevada compatriot in the Senate, Dean Heller.
“Dean Heller and I have been friends for 25 years...I have affection for Dean Heller,” Reid said, glossing over a dustup with Heller over whether he was pulling his weight on an online poker bill.
“As far as big blow-ups, that’s so minor in my life,” Reid said. “I like him a lot. We’ll be able to work together.”