Behind the scenes, leading members of both parties have concluded that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) is an impediment to resolving the debt limit standoff, and should back down. Now, Democrats are publicly calling for him to get real or go home.
“House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has shown that he’s shouldn’t even be at the table,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) in a blistering floor speech Thursday morning. “And Republicans agree.”
In a press conference shortly after Reid’s floor speech, one of his top deputies, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) explained the Dems’ frustrations.
“He is basically standing in the way,” Schumer said. “It can’t just be Eric Cantor deciding everything. If Eric Cantor decides everything, I fear we’ll be in default.”
Cantor argues that he’s simply representing the reality of the House — that his overwhelmingly conservative caucus won’t vote in sufficient numbers to pass anything resembling a deal Democrats would take. Schumer said that’s nonsense. “He’s not just representing it, he’s making it,” Schumer said.
Asked after the briefing whether a deal would be easier to reach if Cantor stepped aside, Schumer said simply “yes.”
Cantor’s spokeswoman said it’s hardly surprising that Reid and Schumer want to raise taxes and hold on to as much government spending as possible.
“This isn’t a question about personalities - Eric, President Obama, Harry Reid or Chuck Schumer,” said Laena Fallon. “It’s about doing what is right for the country and trying to find a productive solution that finally demonstrates Washington is serious about America’s fiscal health.”
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.