After Round One victory on budget, Boehner hits the gas — and Reid

After Round One victory on budget, Boehner hits the gas — and Reid

Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerSpeculation mounts, but Ryan’s job seen as safe Boehner warns Trump: Don't pull out of Korea-US trade deal GOP Rep: Ryan wasting taxpayers dollars by blocking war authorization debate MORE escalated hostilities between the House and Senate to a new level Wednesday by launching a political attack against Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidThe Memo: Trump pulls off a stone-cold stunner The Memo: Ending DACA a risky move for Trump Manchin pressed from both sides in reelection fight MORE (D-Nev.). 

The surprise criticism of Reid, whose spokesman quickly fired back at the Ohio Republican, came as Congress cleared a bipartisan stopgap bill that at least temporarily averted a government shutdown.

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John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerSpeculation mounts, but Ryan’s job seen as safe Boehner warns Trump: Don't pull out of Korea-US trade deal GOP Rep: Ryan wasting taxpayers dollars by blocking war authorization debate MORE’s claim that Reid has no budget plan and the Nevada Democrat’s response represents the most heated political rhetoric between the two leaders during the new Congress. It also raised new concerns that lawmakers will not be able to agree on a long-term budget deal, as both sides are clearly digging in for a Round 2.

President Obama on Wednesday signed the two-week continuing resolution (CR) without issuing comment on it. The quick enactment of the measure was considered a significant victory for Boehner because the Senate essentially rubber-stamped the House-passed bill.

Boehner isn’t resting on his laurels, however. During a speech Wednesday morning, he accused Reid of not having a plan to address the $1.6 trillion federal deficit. A Reid spokesman countered that Boehner is getting pushed around by Tea Party-allied freshman members.

The back-and-forth came on the same day Senate Democratic leaders announced that Vice President Joe BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenBiden slams Trump over golf gif hitting Clinton Overnight Tech: Equifax hit by earlier undisclosed hack | Facebook takes heat over Russian ads | Alt-right Twitter rival may lose domain Overnight Finance: CBO to release limited analysis of ObamaCare repeal bill | DOJ investigates Equifax stock sales | House weighs tougher rules for banks dealing with North Korea MORE would take a leading role in spending negotiations with congressional Republicans.

It also came just two days after Boehner and Reid met in the majority leader’s office to discuss the budget. 

Reid wanted to pass a month-long CR, but Boehner refused.

The Senate voted 91-9 on Wednesday to pass the House bill that cuts $4 billion from the 2011 budget. It funds the government through March 18. 

A small mix of conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats opposed the bill, including Sens. Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoSenate Banking panel approves Trump's Fed, comptroller nominees Harvey damage adds urgency to flood insurance debate Don't let funding for US Forest Service go up in flames MORE (R-Idaho), Tom HarkinTom HarkinDistance education: Tumultuous today and yesterday Grassley challenger no stranger to defying odds Clinton ally stands between Sanders and chairmanship dream MORE (D-Iowa), Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchFinance to hold hearing on ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Finance: CBO to release limited analysis of ObamaCare repeal bill | DOJ investigates Equifax stock sales | House weighs tougher rules for banks dealing with North Korea Week ahead in finance: Clock ticking for GOP on tax reform MORE (R-Utah), Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeOvernight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions Senate passes 0B defense bill Overnight Finance: CBO to release limited analysis of ObamaCare repeal bill | DOJ investigates Equifax stock sales | House weighs tougher rules for banks dealing with North Korea MORE (R-Utah), Carl LevinCarl LevinPresident Trump, listen to candidate Trump and keep Volcker Rule Republicans can learn from John McCain’s heroism Trump and GOP wise to keep tax reform and infrastructure separate MORE (D-Mich.), Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayWeek ahead: Senators near deal to stabilize ObamaCare markets Policymaking commission offers a glimmer of hope in hyper-partisan Washington Dems call on DeVos to work with CFPB to protect student borrowers MORE (D-Wash.), Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulSenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions Lawmakers grapple with warrantless wiretapping program MORE (R-Ky.), Jim RischJames (Jim) Elroy RischSenate approves Trump's debt deal with Democrats Overnight Cybersecurity: Mueller impanels grand jury in Russia probe | Researcher who helped stop WannaCry attack detained | Audit finds OPM systems still at risk Overnight Finance: Trump signs Russia sanctions bill, rips Congress | Trump plan would cut legal immigration | Senate confirms labor board pick | House Budget chair running for governor | Regulator takes step to change 'Volcker Rule' MORE (R-Idaho) and Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersOvernight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions Senate passes 0B defense bill Dems fear lasting damage from Clinton-Sanders fight MORE (I-Vt.).

During the first two months of the 112th Congress, Boehner and Reid had occasionally jabbed at each other, but had largely pulled their punches. That changed Wednesday.

During his speech to the Credit Union National Association, Boehner stated: “I’m not sure whether Sen. Reid has a plan to cut spending and keep the government running. If he does, I think the American people would be interested in seeing it. If he doesn’t, I think he owes the American people an explanation.”

Those remarks stunned Democratic leaders, who are accustomed to barbs from the No. 2 House Republican leader, Rep. Eric CantorEric CantorEric Cantor offering advice to end ‘immigration wars’ Trump's olive branch differs from the golden eras of bipartisanship After divisive rally, Trump calls for unity MORE (Va.), but not from Boehner. 

Jon Summers, Reid’s spokesman, swung back hard.

“That’s tough talk from someone who is being bossed around by a bunch of freshmen,” Summers said. “It’s surprising that the Speaker of the House is unaware that the Senate is voting on a bill to fund the government and cut spending [Wednesday] morning.”

Senate Democratic Whip Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinSenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions Senate passes 0B defense bill MORE (Ill.) said he was surprised by Boehner’s blast.

“It does discourage me,” Durbin said. “I know John and it’s not his style. John worked closely with Democrats for No Child Left Behind, and I have a very positive feeling toward him. But I sense that he is facing a firestorm in his own caucus from the Tea Party members who are demanding that he show his teeth in this relationship, and I think that’s unfortunate.”

Aides say Boehner and Reid have a cordial relationship, while noting they have not worked extensively with one another.

After the Nov. 2 election, Reid praised Boehner as “a consensus guy” who is “willing to work with us.”

A Senate Democratic aide said Wednesday’s flare-up does not necessarily mean the relationship between Reid and Boehner has gone sour.

“Reid’s spokesman saw what Boehner said and responded in a way that a spokesman will,” said the staffer. “That won’t change the fact that Reid and Boehner have a courteous and professional relationship.”

Still, the stakes over the budget are extremely high, and both leaders are under an enormous amount of pressure to broker the best deal for their respective parties. 

Reid will be getting much more help from the White House in the coming weeks.

Going forward, most of the Democratic spending negotiations will be handled by Biden and senior White House officials.

Senate Democrats are meeting to identify spending cuts they can coalesce behind, but Biden is in charge of making offers to Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate passes 0B defense bill Overnight Health Care: New GOP ObamaCare repeal bill gains momentum Overnight Finance: CBO to release limited analysis of ObamaCare repeal bill | DOJ investigates Equifax stock sales | House weighs tougher rules for banks dealing with North Korea MORE (R-Ky.).

“The White House is inviting both sides to negotiate a long-term solution led by Vice President Biden,” said Sen. Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerSenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill This week: Senate wrapping up defense bill after amendment fight Cuomo warns Dems against cutting DACA deal with Trump MORE (N.Y.), vice chairman of the Senate Democratic Conference. “If Republicans are serious about negotiating a responsible compromise, they should accept this invitation immediately and get to work.”

Sources stressed that Reid will still be heavily involved in budget negotiations. Reid’s chief of staff, David Krone will continue to play a central role in talks with Boehner’s top aide, Barry Jackson, and other GOP negotiators, they said.

The tapping of Biden to be the Democrats’ lead negotiator was expected by Democratic lawmakers. The White House has had a deliberate strategy of keeping Obama above the legislative fray in Congress to preserve his political capital for later in the debate.

That frustrated some Senate Democrats, who were outmaneuvered by House Republicans.

White House press secretary Jay Carney, who until recently served as Biden’s spokesman, said on Wednesday that the president’s team has demonstrated a willingness to compromise.

Obama has embraced a five-year spending freeze, but is willing to go further.

“We can do more,” Carney added.