By Alexander Bolton - 11/02/11 02:15 PM EDT
Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidSanders tests Wasserman Schultz Nearly 400 House bills stuck in Senate limbo Puerto Rico debt relief faces serious challenges in Senate MORE (D-Nev.) says Senate Republicans fear anti-tax activist Grover Norquist.
Reid, speaking on the Senate floor Wednesday, suggested GOP lawmakers do not deserve to serve in Congress if they fail to stand up to Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform.
“The truth is they are terrified to violate the infamous Grover Norquist tax pledge even though they know Norquist is wrong — or if they don’t know, they should know,” said Reid. “They’re in a thrall, my Republican colleagues, they’re in submission to a man whose singular focus is keeping taxes low for the very, very, very wealthy no matter what the effect on the nation.
The question of raising taxes to reduce the deficit has become a major obstacle in the negotiations of the supercommittee charged with finding at least $1.2 trillion in deficit cuts by Nov. 23. Republicans last week rejected a $3 trillion savings plan that would have raised taxes by $1.3 trillion over the next decade.
Reid read a quote from former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.) challenging Republican members of the supercommittee to challenge Norquist.
" 'The only thing he can do is try to defeat you for reelection, and if that means more to you than your country, you really shouldn’t be in Congress,' " Reid said, reading Simpson’s quote.
Reid’s comments follow his claim, made Tuesday, that Norquist is the de facto leader of the GOP.
Nearly every member of Congress has signed ATR’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge, which requires signatories to oppose any legislation that would raise the net level of taxation.
Norquist says Senate Republicans have made the tax pledge to their constituents, not to him or his organization.
“Hey, Harry Reid: If I became a Buddhist monk and moved to the Himalayas, no pledge taker would help you raise taxes. They promised their voters,” Norquist posted on Twitter.