US House speaker urges senators to get 'off their ass'
2/26/2013 10:22:51 PM
House Speaker John Boehner laid bare the Republican leadership's exasperation Tuesday over looming US budget cuts, as he demanded senators get "off their ass" to forge a compromise and avert a crisis.
Boehner and his fellow Republican leaders also took aim at President Barack Obama's failure to craft a deal ahead of the March 1 deadline, when $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts kick in unless Congress and the White House reach a last minute deal.
"I don't think the president's focused on trying to find a solution to the sequester," an angry Boehner told reporters after meeting with his caucus.
Obama was traveling to Newport News, Virginia -- home to major military bases, ports and shipbuilders -- on Tuesday to discuss the impact of the cuts, but Boehner slammed the move as using "our military men and women as a prop in yet another campaign rally to support his tax hikes."
The speaker reserved his harshest language for the Democratically-led Senate, which he blames for failing to pass any sequester-replacement legislation despite action last year by the Republican-held House.
"We have moved a bill in the House twice. We should not have to move a third bill before the Senate gets off their ass and begins to do something," Boehner fumed.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid did not hide his disapproval of the remark, but the Nevada Democrat didn't flinch, either.
"I was raised in a little town that had 13 brothels in it, so I'm used to some pretty salty language," Reid told reporters.
"But the speaker today... I think he should understand who is sitting on their posterior. We're doing our best here to pass something," while House Republicans have introduced no sequester legislation in recent weeks, hoping the Senate will act, Reid added.
"The reason he's not bringing up something over there is, he can't pass it" with Boehner's Republican caucus split on whether or not to allow the sequester to kick in.
Reid said his Democrats meanwhile were unveiling a "balanced proposal" Tuesday that he hoped to bring to a vote this week.
The bill, he said, would "replace those across-the-board cuts for this year with smart spending reductions, measures that close corporate tax loopholes and end wasteful subsidies and revenue from the very wealthiest among us -- Americans making millions of dollars each year."
Boehner made clear the House would not stand for any new tax hikes.
"He's gotten his tax hikes," Boehner said of Obama. "It's time to focus on the real problem here in Washington and that is spending."