Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says his Democratic counterpart is leading the chamber down a "disturbing" and "embarrassing" path, as Republican lawmakers' frustration over what they consider a hardline stance on GOP amendments boils over.
"This institution has been fundamentally changed by one man, the majority leader, who has the ability to impose a gag rule on all the rest of us," McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters Tuesday. "It's a disturbing thing."
"This is really quite embarrassing that the greatest deliberative body in the world doesn't deliberate anymore."
Senate Republicans repeatedly have accused Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., of trying to ram through Democratic bills without giving them an opportunity to amend the legislation. Republicans say Reid has allowed only nine of their amendments since July 2013.
Reid in turn has accused Republicans of shamefully trying to stall and block almost every Democratic bill and major White House nomination.
The impasse came to a head Monday evening when a mostly noncontroversial energy-efficiency bill failed after Reid refused to hold votes on proposed GOP changes, including amendments to sped up natural gas exports, block new Environmental Protection Agency regulations on new coal-fired power plants and ban a tax on carbon emissions.
Reid said he rejected GOP provisions because they weren't germane to the legislation. But McConnell said the majority leader is trying to silence Republicans.
"It is very, very difficult to conduct the people's business when the work of members is marginalized and ignored, and members don't have an opportunity to present their ideas to improve the country," McConnell said.
The Kentucky Republican added the situation can be fixed if Reid "quit[s] acting like he's acting."
"It doesn't require rules change, it doesn't require anything other than a behavioral change on his part," McConnell said.
Reid has countered that Republicans — not Democrats — are to blame for the gridlock that has plagued Congress in recent years, suggesting the GOP is more worried about its Image than the country's welfare.
"At the end of every day, my Republican colleagues have to ask themselves a simple question: Do they want to get things done for the middle class or not?" Reid told reporters Tuesday. "I think the answer is fairly obvious."