By Ramsey Cox
Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) called on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to apologize for calling Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) a "schoolyard bully."
“When you accuse a colleagues of being a schoolyard bully, you certainly don’t mean it as a compliment,” Lee said Tuesday evening. “Sometimes in a moment of weakness we say things that we meant to say, but shouldn’t have. If in fact the Majority Leader slipped and said something he didn’t mean to say … then I invite him to come forward and I’m confident that my friend the junior senator from Texas will promptly and frankly accept his apology.
"Sometimes people say things that they regret but that's what apologies are for."
Lee said that insult violated part two of Senate Rule 19.
On Monday, Cruz objected to Reid asking for unanimous consent to form a conference committee on the House and Senate budgets. Cruz said he would allow the agreement if the conference report was prohibited from including tax increases or raised the debt ceiling. Cruz said he wanted that guarantee because the conference report could be passed through reconciliation — requiring just a simple majority.
“The Majority Leader could have claimed that he had no intention to undermine the protections of the minority … but in a refreshing display of candor, he did not do so,” Cruz said Tuesday. “Let me be explicit — we had no objection to proceeding to conference if the leader is willing to not use it as a backdoor to raise the debt ceiling.”
Cruz said that Reid called him a bully because he was simply pointing out that the Reid was trying to circumvent minority objections.
“For reasons unknown, the majority leader deemed my saying so out loud as some how bullying,” Cruz said. “Shining light on our substantive disagreements is not bullying. … All of us should exercise candor.”
Reid said because Cruz was on the losing side of the budget debate, he wanted to hold up the process and put limits on conferees.
“My friend from Texas is like a schoolyard bully,” Reid said Monday evening. "He pushes everybody around and is losing, and instead of playing the game according to the rules, he not only takes the ball home with him, but he changes the rules that way no one wins except the bully who tries to indicate to people that he has won."
The Senate passed its first budget resolution in four years last month. Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) have been meeting about setting up a conference, but Democrats say the House GOP is dragging its feet because they’re afraid of a backlash from Tea Party elements within the GOP ranks.
The House-passed budget cuts $4.6 trillion in spending on top of the $1.2 trillion sequestration cuts already scheduled to take effect, and it balances in 10 years.
The Senate-passed budget has $975 billion in new taxes, does not balance, and turns off sequestration.