By Russell Berman - 02/26/13 03:55 PM EST
A salty Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Tuesday told members of the Senate to “get off their ass” and pass a bill to replace $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts, setting off an exchange with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).
“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 told reporters in a press conference, repeating a message he had just delivered in a closed-door meeting of the House Republican conference.
“It’s time for the Senate to act,” Boehner said. “It’s not about the House. We’ve acted.”
Following Boehner's comments, Reid accused House Republicans of “sitting on their posterior” and challenged Boehner to pass legislation.
“I think he should understand who is sitting on their posterior,” Reid said. “We’re doing our best here to pass something. The Speaker is doing nothing to try to pass anything over there.”
“We have something called the Constitution that [requires] you have to start over again every two years,” Reid said. “The reason he’s not bringing up something over there is he can’t pass it. He can’t get his caucus to agree on anything.”
“So I ask the Republican Speaker, ‘Where’s your bill? You can’t rely on what happened last Congress. Where’s your plan? You can’t rely on what happened last Congress.’ ”
Reid said the House Republican strategy is to “sit on the sidelines instead of working with us to pass something."
He noted that 174 House Republicans voted for the sequester and they share the responsibility for stopping its impact on the economy.
The House is not scheduled to be in session Friday, when the cuts will begin to take effect, but the Speaker said the lower chamber would be prepared to respond to Senate action.
“If the Senate acts, I’m sure the House will act quickly,” Boehner said.
The Senate plans to vote on two competing measures to replace or modify the sequester, but neither is expected to achieve the 60-vote threshold needed to advance.
Boehner and other House GOP leaders repeated their criticism of President Obama for holding campaign-style rallies outside Washington instead of meeting with Senate Democratic leaders to hash out a solution. The president was scheduled to be in Newport News, Va., on Tuesday, where he will be joined by both Democratic lawmakers and one House Republican, Rep. Scott Rigell (Va.), who has said his party’s leaders should consider Democratic proposals to raise new tax revenue.
“There’s a fundamental question here the president has to decide: Does he want to be president of a political party, or does he want to be president of the United States?” asked Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), the third-ranking Republican. “It is time for leadership.”
--Alexander Bolton contributed to this report.
--This report was updated at 4:08 p.m.