Senator John Kerry (D-MA) argued Saturday in favor of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s compromise plan to raise the debt ceiling and lashed out at House Republicans for failing to “do their job.”
“The call for compromise by the American people should be listened to and acted on – now,” Kerry said on the Senate floor.
“I’ve served in the majority and I’ve served in the minority. I’ve cast tough votes in times of divided government, under Republican and Democratic Presidents from Reagan to Obama, and I’ve never seen the governing process so broken because one faction of one side has made ‘compromise’ – the essence of democracy and the bedrock of our governing system – not just a dirty word, but a form of treason.”
He said that while Republican and Democratic senators were working together to create a bipartisan solution to the budget crisis, House Speaker John Boehner was negotiating between the responsible and the unreasonable House Republicans.
The Boehner debt-reduction bill barely passed the House on Friday by a 218 to 210 vote, only to be dead upon arrival in the Senate. Republican Sens. Jim DeMint (R-SC), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Mike Lee (R-UT), Rand Paul (R-KY) and David Vitter (R-LA) voted along with Democrats to kill Boehner’s bill.
“We are still facing obstinate ideological rigidity from House Republicans who have threatened to take our nation into default, downgrade our nation’s credit rating and do even more harm to the fragile economy,” Kerry continued.
“It shouldn’t be this difficult for Congress to do its most fundamental job under the Constitution and preserve the credit rating and reputation of the most powerful nation on earth. It never used to be this rancorous. As everyone knows, in 1983 President Reagan warned about the danger of default.”
Kerry said Democrats opposed Boehner’s budget plan because it could trigger many of the consequences as default itself and required a Balanced Budget Amendment to be passed in order to raise the debt ceiling.
He noted that Bruce Bartlett, a former economic advisor to President Reagan, described the budget amendment as “quite possibly the stupidest Constitutional amendment that I think I have ever seen,” adding that it “looks like it was drafted by a couple of interns on the back of a napkin.”
“House Republicans would rather spend their time negotiating with themselves and criticizing other proposals than negotiating with Democrats or trying to show that they are willing to compromise,” Kerry said.