"It's Mad Hatter time on the Hill," a senior White House official said, describing the behavior of House Republicans in failing to pass a bill — one all but certain to arrive DOA at the Senate — as well as the inaction of chagrined Senate Republicans looking on but refusing to do anything to help the nation out of this morass.
"None of this has anything to do with the economy, it's all power games inside the Beltway," the official said.
President Obama is likely to speak today to try to reassure any panicking Americans and to urge Congress to compromise.
White House officials had expected that Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, would be able to pass his bill Thursday night and watched in disbelief as he pulled the bill because it didn't have enough votes to pass.
While the president believes the debacle on the Hill underlines his belief that passing a small bill is no easier than passing a big one, he also believes the time for a big deal has passed, officials said.
Said another senior White House official: "House Republicans are wasting time."
This official also said it wasn't fair to blame the stalemate on the recalcitrant House Republicans balking at the bill. Speaker "Boehner has known forever what he's dealing with," the official said. "He lost 60 votes on the CR," the official noted, referring to the House GOPers rebelling against Boehner's initial push to fund the government.