Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid blasted House Speaker John Boehner on Tuesday after leaks circulated of a plan that House Republicans might offer to end the spending and debt stalemate.
“We felt blindsided by the news from the House,” Reid said on the Senate floor in a scathing attack on Boehner and his House GOP members. The Nevada Democrat said “extremist Republicans in the House of Representatives are attempting to torpedo" the negotiations which he and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell have been conducting in the past few days.
Reid’s torrent of criticism came hours after he and McConnell both said they’d made progress in their work toward a plan to end the partial government shutdown and lift the government’s borrowing limit.
The Reid-McConnell talks came as the federal government neared the point of exhausting its ability to borrow and running out of cash on hand to pay its bills.
Although the House Republicans reportedly are working on plan that would end the shutdown, Boehner told reporters “There have been no decisions on what exactly we will do” and left open the questions of whether or when any House GOP bill would be put to a floor vote.
The House GOP plan would include a two-year delay in the Obamacare tax on medical devices and would end the federal government's contributions to lawmakers' health insurance coverage.
"I'm very disappointed John Boehner would once again try to preserve his role at the expense of the country. I've worked very hard to rise above partisanship, find common ground of the Senate," Reid complained in his angry floor speech.
Reid’s statement prompted an emotional Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., to go to the Senate floor and defend Boehner’s efforts.
Addressing the Democrats, McCain said, “We know you have the upper hand – isn’t it time that we helped to find a way out of this -- which is what the American people want, rather than who won and who lost?”
McCain complained that “to categorically reject what the House of Representatives and the speaker is doing – and I think he’s pretty courageous in what he’s doing – in my view is not serving the American people.”
“Let’s stop the condemnation,” pleaded McCain. “Let’s consider the House Republican proposal as a serious proposal."
McCain argued that Senate and House leaders could resolve their differences “in the next 24 hours” if only they would sit down and bargain with each other.
First published October 15 2013, 11:34 AM