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In a speech Thursday morning, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid tore into House Speaker John Boehner for refusing to call the House of Representatives back into session to vote on Senate-passed legislation extending tax cuts on all income below $250,000.
"Speaker Boehner should call members of the House back to Washington today," Reid said. "He shouldn't have let them go, in fact. They are not here. They are not here." Reid accused Boehner of putting his own political ambition ahead of the country's welfare, seeking to preserve his speakership rather than risk losing support from Republicans by allowing a vote on the senate's legislation.
"I can't imagine their consciences," Reid said. "They're out, wherever they are around the country, and we're here trying to get something done. They are not in Washington, D.C. The House of Representatives is not here."
With just four days left until tax rates will automatically go up, Reid said the Senate's legislation is the only viable option for avoiding year-end tax hikes on more than 98 percent of American taxpayers. "If we go over the cliff, we'll be left with the knowledge that it could have been prevented with a single vote in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives."
Reid said that if Boehner had brought the Senate bill to a vote on the floor of the House, it would have passed. Boehner's problem, according to Reid, is that it would have passed primarily with Democratic support, violating Boehner's policy of only putting forward legislation supported by a majority of Republicans. Reid said Boehner's refusal to allow the legislation to the floor amounted to a "dictatorship of the Speaker" because Boehner's decision blocked progress of a bill that would pass, albeit with more Democratic votes than Republican votes.
"It's not too late for the Speaker to take up the Senate-passed bill, but even that time is waning down," Reid said. "Today is Thursday. He is going to give 48 hours notice to the House before the come back. So 48 hours from today is Saturday."
Reid also said that the prospects of the Senate being able to pass any new piece of legislation were grim because Senate Republicans would abuse Senate rules and filibuster anything Democrats put forward.