WASHINGTON – Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham and John McCain accused Democrats on Tuesday of spiking the ball in the fight to reopen the government and avert a debt default, saying they were more interested in scoring political points than solving the problems.
“We really did go too far. We screwed up,” Graham told reporters of Republican efforts to use the fight to defund Obamacare. But, he added, “Their response is making things worse, not better.”
The response he was referring to was the rejection by the White House and Senate Majority Leader of a proposal from House Republicans Tuesday to deal with the fiscal problems, countering a tentative deal forged by Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Reid, speaking on the floor Tuesday morning, accused Republicans of trying to “torpedo” the Senate deal. The White House issued a statement rejecting the deal.
“To my Democratic colleagues, you are really missing the forest for the trees here,” Graham told reporters Tuesday afternoon. “You really don’t realize what you’re doing here by moving the ball and moving the goalpost and trying to score every political point you can get.”
“As much criticism as I had for our overplaying our hand, I’m really getting to the point of the disgust with some of our democratic colleagues for making this harder for the country than it needs to be,” he said.
Arizona Sen. John McCain had a similar criticism on the floor Tuesday.
“The Speaker of the House has come forward with what we believe is a plan which would reopen the government, extend the debt limit, and has several other provisions in it. And the reaction to that has been condemnation. Immediate, automatic, condemnation by the Majority Leader, by the White House, by the Democrats in the House. Absolutely rejecting this proposal. I don’t understand that,” McCain said.
“Some of us at the beginning said we’re going on a fool’s errand to believe that we will be able to defund obamacare. And we got ourselves in a ditch. And we got to stop digging,” he said. But, he went on, Democrats’ categorical rejection of the House proposal, he said, “in my view is piling on. It’s piling on and it’s not right.”
“I again urge my Democratic colleagues: we know you have the upper hand,” McCain said. “Isn’t it time that we help find a way out of this, which is what the American people want, rather than who won and who lost?”
McCain has been one of the more vocal Republicans in his criticism of Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz and his efforts to tie defunding the healthcare law to funding the government.