Battle lines harden for Obama, Senate GOP as time for debt deal runs short

Battle lines harden for Obama, Senate GOP as time for debt deal runs short

Senate Republicans revolted against the White House Thursday as the fight over raising the debt ceiling turned sharply more bitter and bled into other issues.

Just one week after House Majority Leader Eric CantorEric Ivan CantorEric Cantor: Moore ‘deserves to lose’ If we want to make immigration great again, let's make it bipartisan Top Lobbyists 2017: Hired Guns MORE (R-Va.) left talks led by Vice President Biden, negotiations to reduce deficits appear to be in ruins.

GOP senators on Thursday sniped from the floor at President Obama’s lack of leadership and sought to stop any progress in the chamber.

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The Republicans were stung by Obama’s Wednesday press conference, when he unfavorably compared GOP lawmakers to his school-age daughters, who he said get their homework done on time.

In response, Republicans blocked Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidDems search for winning playbook Dems face hard choice for State of the Union response The Memo: Immigration battle tests activists’ muscle MORE’s (D-Nev.) request to bring legislation authorizing U.S. military action against Libya to the floor, and walked out of a planned markup of legislation implementing a free-trade agreement with South Korea.

They also mocked and scolded the president for his leadership record and his call for them to get to work.

Sen. Jon Cornyn (R-Texas) lambasted Obama for attending Philadelphia fundraisers a day after telling Congress to get to work on a debt deal. Cornyn, the chairman of the Senate Republican campaign committee, said Obama should be embarrassed by his lack of leadership.

“Instead of going to Philadelphia tonight and raising money ... why doesn't he call ...[congressional leadership] into his office and just do his job? Just do his job?,” Cornyn asked on the Senate floor.

Sen. Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsGOP senators eager for Romney to join them Canada tamps down worries about US NAFTA withdrawal Canada worried Trump will withdraw from NAFTA: report MORE (R-Kan.) joked that Obama should pop a Valium to calm down before talking with Congress about a deficit deal, while Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSessions: 'We should be like Canada' in how we take in immigrants NSA spying program overcomes key Senate hurdle Overnight Finance: Lawmakers see shutdown odds rising | Trump calls for looser rules for bank loans | Consumer bureau moves to revise payday lending rule | Trump warns China on trade deficit MORE (R-Ky.) invited Obama to meet the Senate GOP and hear for himself that a deficit-reduction package with tax increases had no chance of winning approval from 60 senators.

“I’d like to invite the president to come to the Capitol today to meet with Senate Republicans — any time this afternoon, if he’s available, to come on up to the Capitol,” McConnell said. “That way he can hear directly from Senate Republicans … why what he’s proposing will not pass.”

White House press secretary Jay Carney quickly rejected McConnell’s invitation, suggesting the president had better things to do than listen to the “maximalist position” from the Senate GOP.

“We know that position. That's not a conversation worth having,” Carney said at his daily briefing.

Behind the scenes, White House officials pointedly noted that several Republicans were scheduled to hold fundraisers on Thursday as well.

Cornyn, despite his criticism of Obama’s fundraiser, was himself scheduled to be a guest at a fundraiser for Sen. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerDemocrats search for 51st net neutrality vote Nevada Dems unveil 2018 campaign mascot: 'Mitch McTurtle' Senate campaign fundraising reports roll in MORE (R-Nev.) on Thursday.

Tensions are intensifying with both sides running out of time to reach a deal to raise the debt ceiling. The Treasury Department has said it will no longer be able to pay the nation’s creditors after Aug. 2 without a higher borrowing limit.

Senate Democrats canceled their July 4 recess week to provide more negotiating time, as lawmakers and Obama try to work out a deal with less than a month to go. Economists have warned that a failure to raise the debt ceiling could set off another recession by raising interest rates and lowering the dollar’s value.

Trade should be an issue that unifies the White House and GOP, yet Senate Republicans walked out of a preliminary markup on the South Korea trade deal.

They voiced opposition over Obama’s inclusion in the legislation of a workers' assistance program meant to provide training and health benefits to workers hurt by increased trade.

Republicans on the committee said the boycott was staged to protest the manner in which Democrats were trying to “ram-through” the legislation.

“We are not going to put up with being jammed,” Hatch said. “We have rights too, in the minority, and they have been invoked.”

Business sources said it was possible House Republicans would strike the TAA language from legislation in the House and move the South Korea deal forward by itself.

In both the fights over trade and the debt ceiling, there was little sign Thursday of either side giving an inch. The GOP walk-out on South Korea leaves the future of that trade deal in doubt along with separate pacts with Colombia and Panama.

Senate Democrats expressed outrage over the GOP tactics. Sen. John KerryJohn Forbes KerryFeehery: Oprah Dem presidential bid unlikely Dem hopefuls flock to Iowa Change in Iran will only come from its people — not the United States MORE (D-Mass.) said he was dumfounded by the decision to boycott the markup of the trade deal, which the GOP had for months been demanding.

“I hear a lot about wanting to get the people's work done but then I hear objections to trying to move to try to get the people's work done,” said Sen. Robert MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezCongress must provide flexible funding for owners of repeatedly flooded properties Senate ethics panel resumes Menendez probe after judge declares mistrial Judge declares mistrial in Menendez bribery case MORE (D-N.J.). “So, pretty outrageous.”

Sam Youngman, Alexander Bolton, Vicki Needham, Josiah Ryan and Pete Kasperowicz contributed to this story.

This story was posted at 3:55 p.m. and updated at 6 p.m.