Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has been a man on an island
as he negotiates a momentous budget deal to avert a government shutdown.
The Republican he’s worked with for years, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, has stayed on the sidelines. President Barack Obama was disengaged until the last 48 hours
. Liberals are carping over the billions in spending cuts, and conservatives in the House have attacked him daily.
Democrats in the Senate have put their blind faith behind him to cut a deal in the secretive talks, meaning the majority leader will have ownership of a plan certain to displease a wide range of senators.
In some respects, Reid has gained more trust from Democrats in the Senate, who are growing increasingly skeptical that Obama has their best interests at heart
At meeting after meeting, Senate Democrats have berated Obama’s lack of personal intervention
in the budget negotiations, senators say, even though White House senior staff has been engaged in talks for weeks and the president has stepped in during the past couple days. But at the same time, they’re concerned the White House has far different objectives
that would alienate much of their caucus if the talks were left up to the West Wing and Boehner.
That leaves Reid as their last line of defense between preventing a shutdown and getting their best possible deal — and Democrats say they’re glad the majority leader is in the room, given his long history of horse-trading deals and the trust they have in him to protect their interests.