Updated at 3:45 pm EST
The rift between Republican John Boehner, speaker of the House of Representatives, and Democrat Harry Reid, majority leader of the Senate, has surfaced behind closed doors as well as in public.
Accusing the Senate of sitting on its “ass,” as Boehner did today, near the eve of the threatened budget sequestration, is far short of what Boehner told Reid at the White House near the climax of another budgetary debacle, at year’s end, the narrowly avoided “fiscal cliff.”
And the insults have run in both directions.
“The American people, I don’t think understand, the House of Representatives is not being represented by the House of Representatives,” Reid had said on the floor of the Senate on Dec. 27. “It is being run as a “dictatorship” of the speaker.
“John Boehner seems more concerned about keeping his speakership,” Reid said that day, calling it “obvious what’s going on.” The speaker, he said, was waiting until Jan. 3, when a new Congress would convene, and when he is re-elected speaker — before moving forward on any talk and spending talks.
The deal was struck Jan. 1, just days before the new Congress arrived.
It was Politico that had first reported, the next day, one of the exchanges the two had behind closed doors at the White House:
“Go f—k yourself,” Boehner sniped as he pointed his finger at Reid, according to multiple sources present.
Reid, a bit startled, replied: “What are you talking about?”
Boehner repeated: “Go f— yourself.”
Today, as the Senate convened for debate on averting the sequestration Friday, the rhetorical ball fell in Reid’s court.
The Senate leader said voters should understand who is “sitting on its posterior.”
It’s the House that’s sitting on the sidelines, he said, while the Senate is working to pass a bill.
The comment from behind Reid’s closed doors wasn’t immediately available.