Harry Reid Says ‘Childish’ Eric Cantor Shouldn’t Be At The Negotiating Table

Jul 14, 2011 10:53am

ABC News' Sunlen Miller (@SunlenMiller) reports:

And the budget battle continues on the Hill today.

Following a testy exchange at the White House last night between House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va.,  and President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said today that Cantor should not be at the negotiating table as the Congressional leadership continues to work with President Obama to agree to a deal to raise the nation’s $14.3 debt ceiling.

Reid repeated reporting in the morning newspapers showing that some Republicans have had enough of Cantor themselves in this ongoing debate.

“House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has shown he shouldn't be at the table and Republicans agree he shouldn't be at the table,” Reid said on the Senate floor this morning citing articles with Cantor’s fellow Republicans saying Cantor has been childish in the negotiations. “He has walked out on the meetings with the Vice President of the United States. It was childish. Another Republican said Cantor is putting himself first. He said this — quote — ‘he is all about Eric.’”

Negotiations at the White House last night ended abruptly after an exchange between Cantor and Obama ended with the president shoving back his chair and saying, “I’ll see you tomorrow,” before walking out of the negotiations.

By contrast, Reid today praised Speaker Boehner and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., for both being willing to negotiate in “good faith.”

Reid said with Moody’s warning yesterday that the nation was already under review for downgrade that leaders should be seriously concerned and it’s time now to start listening and get the deal done.  He echoed the dire warning of President Obama’s this week that social security checks cannot be guaranteed.

“Social security checks and veterans' benefits and paychecks to our troops would stop. Some of the most vulnerable Americans would be placed at risk. Our promise to the men and women who would protect this nation so bravely and those who protect it today would be broken. We would not be able to make payments to our military. Payments on our national debt would stop.”

McConnell took to the floor this morning with a “with us or against” us type of argument.

“Either you're with the president and his vision of a government that continues to live beyond its means or you're with those of us who believe Washington needs some strong medicine,” McConnell said, "either you want to simply borrow and spend our nation into oblivion or you want to get our fiscal house in order.”

McConnell said that Republicans will not be “reduced to being the tax collectors for the Obama economy,” and again pitched for the Balance Budget Amendment – which all 47 Republican Senators support.

“If the President and Democrats in Congress won't agree to cut back, let's force them,” McConnell said, “Let's pass a constitutional amendment that actually requires congress to live within its means. It's time for the American people to contact lawmakers on the Democratic side and simply demand it. Republicans are unanimous in their support for a balanced budget amendment.”

Congressional leaders are due back at the White House at 4:15 p.m. today for the latest round of debt talks, the fifth meeting in as many days.

-Sunlen Miller

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