Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) accused Tea Party lawmakers of destroying budget negotiations with Republicans on Monday, demanding the GOP sort out its internal disputes before further talks proceed.
“We’ve tried to wait patiently for them to do that, but our patience and the American people’s patience is wearing very thin,” Reid said in a speech on the Senate floor.
According to Reid, “the biggest gap in this negotiation isn’t between Republicans and Democrats – it’s between Republicans and Republicans” and it needs to be resolved in order to finalize a deal.
“Democrats are ready to negotiate and to legislate,” he said, but complainted that “we cant negotiate with ourselves and we can’t do it through the media.”
In a statement released earlier in the day, Reid warned that “Tea Party Republicans are scrapping all the progress we have made and threatening to shut down the government if they do not get all of their extreme demands.”‘
As TPM reported today, Republicans are expected to reject a White House proposal to cut the budget by $30 billion below current spending levels, a number that would be roughly in line with early proposals by GOP leaders before they moved the goalposts in response to complaints from the conservative wing of the party. A subsequent revolt by conservative Republicans in the House against the most recent bill to temporarily fund the government forced Speaker John Boehner to rely on Democratic votes to ensure its passage. The government will shut down if the two sides can’t negotiate another funding bill by April 8.
“Apparently these extremists would rather shut down the government and risk sending our economy back into a recession than work with Democrats or even their own leadership to find a responsible compromise, ” Reid said. “For the sake of our economy, it’s time for mainstream Republicans to stand up to the Tea Party and rejoin Democrats at the table to negotiate a responsible solution that cuts spending while protecting jobs.”