For some of the House Republican freshmen, the time has come to sit down with grandpa and tell him they think he has a problem.
A cadre of GOP House freshmen delivered a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid Wednesday, urging him to broker a long-term deal with Republicans to keep the government funded through the fiscal year and pass a budget that makes “reasonable, responsible spending cuts.” Just for good measure, the letter preemptively blamed him if the government shuts down, too.
“Mr. Reid, your record on spending in the Senate is one of failure. You have failed to pass a budget, failed to restrain spending, and failed to put our country on sound fiscal footing. We do not accept your failure as our own,” the letter, signed by 30 House freshmen, read. “The House of Representatives is doing our job, Mr. Reid. The Senate needs to start doing theirs.”
The freshmen who spearheaded the effort unveiled the letter at a press conference outside the U.S. Capitol building Wednesday, and they each made sure to take a few shots at the senator from Nevada.
“I’m here today to decry the do-nothing Senate and to decry the do-nothing leadership of Senator Harry Reid,” said Missouri Rep. Vicki Hartzler. “We put forth a proposal that would cut $61 billion, keep our government running, but yet make it more efficient and more effective. And yet Senator Reid wont even consider that. That is a dereliction of duty.”
Hartzler was referring to the House spending measure Republicans passed last month that cut $61 billion from the budget over the next six months. The bill has stalled in the Senate while Republicans and Democrats broker a deal to keep the government running.
The House freshmen rhetoric — heavy on bemoaning the Senate for inaction, sounded a lot like House Democrats not too long ago, who also complained when the upper chamber wouldn’t take up their bills. And that was when it was controlled by the same party.
“You know, 90 days ago, I was in the private sector running a small business. When faced with a challenge it was never an option to do nothing,” said Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo.
“The Senate Democrats are blocking it all,” complained Alabama Rep. Martha Roby, referring to House bills to defund the health-care bill and National Public Radio and another to cut $61 billion from the federal budget. “We will not settle for a split the baby strategy. The American people want real cuts and it is time for the Senate democrats to respond.”
When questioned later on what she meant when she said Republicans would not settle for a “split the baby strategy,” Roby repeatedly changed the subject and refused to expand on whether it meant House freshmen would accept a compromise.
After 54 House Republicans voted earlier this month against a short-term extension of government funding to give the parties more time to negotiate a larger deal on government funding, it remains unclear how much support House Speaker John Boehner will get in his caucus when GOP leaders unveil a compromise with the White House, presumably sometime in April.
After the conference, about a dozen of the freshmen who signed the letter walked from outside the House side of the U.S. Capitol, marched up the steps of the Senate (some of them actually ran), and taped an envelope sideways to the front door with the words “Mr. Reid” written in marker.
The only thing missing was a doorbell for them to ring before dashing away to hide behind the columns.