Sen. Mike Johanns will wrap up his Senate career frustrated by leadership in Washington.
Johanns expressed more and more frustration about leadership both in the Senate and in the White House in the final two years of his Senate term.
Johanns, a Republican, accuses Senator Majority Leader, Democrat Harry Reid of Nevada, of ending the amendment process in the Senate in an attempt to shelter fellow Democrats from hard votes ahead of the 2014 elections.
Johanns recalls the former budget process in the Senate in which any senator could offer amendments to be debated and decided by the whole chamber.
“But that just stopped about four years ago and that was my frustration,” Johanns tells Nebraska Radio Network. “I like the way the Senate was set up, but it has to be allowed to work.”
Johanns says the budget process changed, because Reid worried Republican proposals might pass.
As examples, Johanns says he might have attracted the necessary votes to reduce the funding of the Environmental Protection Agency in protest of the EPA’s expanded power. Or, Republican senators eyeing the economic benefits of the Bakken oil fields might move to approve construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline and get enough Democrats to favor the proposal for it to pass.
Johanns asserts any bills allowed to come to the Senate floor for debate the last two years were certain to contain poison pills unacceptable to Republicans that assured their defeat.
As for the man in the Oval Office, Johanns believes Barack Obama got spoiled his first two years in office, which has affected his presidency ever since.
Johanns points out Obama came to office with his party firmly in control of Congress.
“Barack Obama did not need Mike Johanns to pass anything. He did not need a single Republican to get his way,” according to Johanns. “Consequently, he never reached across the aisle. He never had to.”
Johanns says Obama benefitted from Democrats holding a huge majority in the House and, then, got the 60 votes needed to overcome any filibuster in the Senate.
Those big majorities allowed Obama to push through the federal health insurance law without a single Republican vote.
Johanns says the president never learned to reach bi-partisan agreement on issues.
Johanns says now that Republicans have taken over control of Congress, Obama must learn to become bi-partisan in his approach to legislation.
“So far, he’s doubled down. He’s just the same old Barack Obama: I don’t like what you’re doing. I don’t want to deal with you so I’ll just do what I want to do,” Johanns says. “Sue me, he says. Well, geez. That’s not good for the country.”
Johanns says Obama has an opportunity to get things done in the final two years of his presidency, if he learns to work with Republicans.
Johanns is retiring from public office. Fellow Republican Ben Sasse has been elected to succeed him in the Senate.
AUDIO: Sen. Johanns discusses leadership in Washington. [7:20]