Posted: 02/26/2013 11:21 am EST | Updated: 02/26/2013 7:03 pm EST
WASHINGTON — With the sequester budget cuts set to kick in Friday, House Speaker John Boehner had a message for his colleagues in the Senate: Get off your “ass.”
The Ohio Republican congressman delivered that message Tuesday, as President Barack Obama headed to Newport News, Va., to send a similar, although less pungent, message to Republicans in Congress. Obama planned to use a shipyard as a backdrop to illustrate the impact of the impending cuts, which would trim $85 billion from the federal budget over the rest of the year.
Obama and Democrats in the Senate have been blaming the GOP for refusing to move on a package to replace the blunt sequester cuts — mandated as part of the 2011 deal to raise the debt ceiling and reduce deficits — with a mix of cuts and tax hikes.
But Boehner countered Tuesday morning that the House had already passed two bills in the last session of Congress to replace the sequester. Although both of those — which Democrats panned as entirely unbalanced — expired with the start of the current Congress, Boehner colorfully declared it was time for the White House and the Senate to act.
“The president has known for 16 months that this sequester was looming out there when the super committee failed to come to an agreement,” Boehner told reporters on Capitol Hill. “And so for 16 months, the president has been traveling all over the country holding rallies instead of sitting down with Senate leaders in order to try to forge an agreement over there in order to move a bill.
“We have moved a bill in the House twice. We should not have to move a third bill before the Senate gets off their ass and begins to do something,” Boehner added.
He also accused Obama of heading to Virginia “to use our military men and women as a prop.”
UPDATE: 3:02 p.m. — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) responded to Boehner’s charge in the afternoon, saying it was the House GOP that was parked on a bench (see video below).
“I was raised in a little town that had 13 brothels in it, so I’m used to some pretty salty language as you know,” Reid told reporters on Capitol Hill. “The speaker today said — he’s not in that category for sure — but Boehner hopes the ‘Senate gets off their ass.’ And it’s quite interesting. ‘We should not have to move a third bill before the Senate gets off their ass and begins to do something,'” Reid quoted.
“I think he should understand who is sitting on their posterior,” Reid continued. “We’re doing our best here to pass something. The speaker is doing nothing to try to pass anything over there. He’s falling back on what he said they did last Congress. Well, we have something called the Constitution that makes us start over again every two years. And the reason he’s not bringing up something over there is because he can’t pass it. He can’t get his caucus to agree on anything.”
Michael McAuliff covers Congress and politics for The Huffington Post. Talk to him on Facebook.