By Jordan Fabian - 06/30/11 06:21 PM EDT
One of the Senate's top Republicans on Thursday fired back at President Obama for questioning his party's work ethic, suggesting that the president should spend less time on the golf course.
"I think the best way to get an appointment with the president is to set up a tee time," Sen. John Thune (S.D.), the chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee, told Fox News.
"They’re in one week. They’re out one week. And then they’re saying, ‘Obama’s got to step in,’ ” the president said. "You need to be here. I’ve been here. I’ve been doing Afghanistan and bin Laden and the Greek crisis and — you stay here. Let’s get it done."
Obama actually tried to use the golf course as a way to thaw relations between the two parties when he invited House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to hit the links with him earlier this month.
But little progress has been made on a deal since then.
The Democratic-controlled Senate canceled its planned July 4 recess with the hopes of hammering out a deal. But Republicans have kept up their attacks on congressional Democrats and Obama, claiming they have failed to lead on budget and spending issues.
"Honestly, it would be one thing if we were actually working on the issue," said Thune. "Everything we're doing now has nothing to do with the fundamental, biggest challenge the country faces and that is this massive debt and the vote to raise the debt limit coming up here in early August."
The White House on Thursday declined an invitation from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to meet with Senate Republicans on the debt, a sign of the icy relationship between the two sides.
Thune said it's incumbent on the president to lead on the issue, accusing him of placing his focus "a lot more [on] politics and reelection."
"We're waiting for his leadership. He can say he is doing this or doing that, but he's not focused on the thing that's most important right now, and that's getting this spending and debt under control," added Thune.