Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid slammed House Republicans Tuesday for holding a vote to raise the debt ceiling without strings attached to show the lack of support for the measure just moments after explaining his decision to hold a Senate vote on Paul Ryan’s budget so Democrats could — wait for it — show lack of support for it.
“They’re bringing up something they know is going to fail?” Reid asked of House Republican leaders, who announced Tuesday they would hold a vote to raise the nation’s debt ceiling with no spending reductions attached next week. “That’s what I’m told, their going to bring it they said to show it won’t pass. I mean, how does that help what we’re trying to do?”
Just moments earlier, Reid touted his plan to force a symbolic Senate vote on the budget plan crafted by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan that passed in the House last month.
“Our Republican colleagues should be eager to show the American people what they believe in,” Reid said. “That’s what that vote will be all about.”
The difference, Reid argued, is that a failed debt ceiling vote could spook international markets and send “a terrible message to the international community.” A simple budget vote, on the other hand, would not.
“Gosh, I don’t agree with that,” said Reid’s Republican counterpart, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. “I think it’s important for the markets and for everybody to understand that Congress doesn’t intend to raise the debt ceiling without doing something about spending.”
As New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer explained this week, Democrats plan to use the vote on the House Republican budget, which includes major reforms to Medicare, as a primary campaign issue in 2012. Reid said the vote was “all about” putting Republicans on the record instead of moving the conversation on the budget forward. A handful of Senate Republicans announced this week they would vote against the GOP budget plan.
The Democrats’ move has some in the GOP reeling, especially Sen. Jeff Sessions, the party’s top member on the Senate Budget Committee. The Alabama senator accused Democratic leaders of playing “cynical political games” by holding a vote on the Republican budget while failing to put forth a budget resolution of their own. He has vowed to block the vote if it doesn’t come with a second vote on a Democratic alternative.
To which Reid responded: “Well, good, let him object.”
Behind the public rhetoric, however, congressional Democrats and Republicans continue to work together in private with Vice President Joe Biden to craft a bipartisan plan to raise the debt ceiling and reduce spending before the August 2 deadline.
While there is little expectation on Capitol Hill that Congress will pass a budget this year — making it two years in a row — most are resting their hopes on a final agreement that is tied to the debt ceiling vote.