Senate Recess Over, Playground Still Busy

Photograph by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Senator Harry Reid, a Democrat from Nevada, listens to a question during a news conference after the weekly Democratic Policy Committee meeting in Washington, D.C.

“Like schoolyard bullies, if Republicans can’t win, they’ll take the ball and go home,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid complained during his session-opener this morning.

The Nevada Democrat was referring to the  impasse between House and Senate on how to proceed toward a budget agreement. Both chambers have passed their own budget resolutions with huge differences remaining between the Republican and Democratic versions.

The Senate budget resolution, passed earlier this year on a party-line vote, was the first one to clear the chamber in almost five years.

Reid acknowledged this delay explaining that his counterparts, “Ask and then ask again for the Senate to pass a budget resolution… Well they got what they wished. The dog finally caught the car.”

With unanimous consent, the majority leader could appoint conferees from the Senate to iron out differences with colleagues in the House, but Republicans thus far have objected to his requests.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz did just that last night on the Senate floor as he attempted to instruct conferees on the budget to not raise taxes or the debt ceiling. The objection earned the ire of the majority leader this morning as Reid, without naming him, singled out Cruz.

“Last night, a very junior senator from Texas said Republicans would agree to go to conference only if Democrats first would give in to their demands,” Reid explained. “Maybe the junior senator from Texas doesn’t remember, but we remember. We remember the government being on the verge of losing its ability to be part of the world community by not paying its debts.”

Feigning Senatorial cordiality, he continued: “My friend – I’m sorry – the junior Senator from Texas said he wanted a guarantee that as a bargaining pawn that we would make sure that the debt ceiling would not be raised.”

After the name-calling and finger pointing, Reid closed his morning speech with an accusation usually reserved for the playground: “Republicans refuse to play the game unless we let them win.”

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