WASHINGTON -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada this morning challenged Republicans to come up with an alternative to the auto bailout bill, and he would allow the Senate to vote on it before the end of the week.
Reid in a Senate speech framed the deal as a take it or leave it proposition after Republicans complained they were not being allowed to offer amendments to the $15 billion emergency loan package that Democrats and the White House negotiated.
The House passed that bill late Thursday, with many members then leaving for the holidays.
"If Republicans want a better bill they should offer an alternative," Reid said. "It would be my suggestion that we have a vote on the substitute or the alternative the Republicans would put forward," then a vote on the bill formed with the White House.
"If there is no agreement that can be reached, we have danced this tune long enough," Reid said. He said he would schedule a procedural vote for Friday that would determine whether the Senate has the votes to pass a bill.
Reid accused Republicans of dragging their feet on the auto loans, which he said was a replay of GOP tactics throughout the current session of Congress.
"Look what it got the Republicans," Reid said. "They lost seven or eight Senate seats and lost the presidency. As soon as the elections were over I called a number of Republicans and said I want to work with you, but we are right back to where we have been for two years, the same place."
Republicans including Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., have said the auto rescue bill will not work.
Speaking on CNBC this morning, Ensign repeated the charge the legislation offers loans to GM, Chrysler and Ford but would not force them to overhaul their operations.
"You can't just give the money and then hope for the restructuring later," Ensign said.
"We may have the 41 votes necessary to block this bill and then we can start over and actually draft a bill that will work and will cause the real structural reforms that are necessary for these companies to implement plans to be successful in the future," Ensign said.