A range of controversial topics filled out the menu of subjects at a just-completed luncheon meeting today with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and members of the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce.
Discussing health care, Reid told the crowd of several hundred that he would prefer bipartisan legislation on health care reform rather than a bill with only Democratic support. Reid said he planned to "work for a couple of weeks" at giving bipartisan efforts a chance when Congress reconvenes in early September. If Democrats' olive branches fail with Republicans, though, then Senate Democrats will go ahead with a reconciliation process that requires just 51 votes rather than a filibuster-proof 60 votes, Reid said. The move would allow Democrats to pass a bill without any Republican votes.
Reid also said the Employee Free Choice Act, which would make union-organizing easier through measures such as card-check votes and mandatory binding arbitration, is off the Senate's radar for now.
"We have too many other things on our plate," he said.
About 50 to 100 protesters picketed outside the Four Seasons, where Reid spoke. The protesters waved American flags and flashed signs with slogans such as "Impeach Obama" and "Dump Reid."
The chamber of commerce crowd inside was far friendlier: Most of the attendees awarded Reid a standing ovation and gave the senator applause several times during his presentation.