GOP Sen. Bob Corker compares Harry Reid to Vladimir Putin; says Senate in 'death spiral'

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An outspoken Republican senator who was among those wooed by Democrats and President Obama seeking compromise flashed anger at Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Thursday, comparing his tactics to those of Russian President Vladimir Putin and warning that the Senate is “on the verge of a death spiral.”

Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, venting his frustration at Reid and other Democrats for refusing to give Republicans a voice in the chamber, said the majority leader's Nov. 20 decision to deploy the so-called “nuclear option” to eliminate minority filibusters was “reprehensible” and broke the world's greatest deliberative option.

As a result, Republicans have decided to go slow on Obama’s ambassador nominations, using the few rules and tricks they can to pressure Reid to reverse course, Corker told reporters at a breakfast roundtable hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. Giving in, he said, would simply result in Democrats taking further advantage of Republicans.

He compared the situation to Putin's show of force move during the Ukraine crisis by hosting war games supposedly meant to signal to ethnic Russians in Ukraine that he is ready to protect them if harassed.

“If you allow people to just run roughshod over you, just like we’re seeing right now, with Putin in Russia right?” said Corker. “He’s getting no pushback from the United States, so why not do the things that I’m doing? If you don’t have any push back, then obviously people will see a way to do even more of those things down the road.”

Corker was one of the Republicans that Obama reached out to last spring, hosting dinners and even playing golf with the second-term senator. But Corker said that in the end he realized that the president didn’t mean it and that Reid didn’t want serious debate on issues in the chamber.

“The United States Senate will not ever function in an appropriate way with the leadership we have in place,” said Corker, who has committed to help elect enough Republicans to give the GOP control after the fall midterm elections.

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com.