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POLITICS: PennAve

Harry Reid puts John Boehner and his speakership in the crosshairs

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Steve Contorno,House of Representatives,Republican Party,Democratic Party,Harry Reid,John Boehner,PennAve,Speaker of the House,Government Shutdown

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Thursday accused House Speaker John Boehner of reneging on a deal reached in September to fund government and said the Republican leader has put his political future ahead of the country.

Reid said that when he and Boehner met in early September, the Republican leader wanted a clean continuing resolution to fund government at $988 billion, or sequestration levels. The Nevada Democrat said Boehner then backed away from that agreement after conservatives in the GOP caucus flipped.

"We didn't like it. But we negotiated, that was our compromise. The exact bill that he now refuses to let the House vote on, that was our negotiation," Reid said. "I didn't twist his arm. He twisted mine a little bit to get that number. Now he refuses to let his own party vote because he's afraid to stand up to something he originally agreed to."

On Wednesday, Reid offered Boehner an out by promising to negotiate a host of Republican objectives, like tax reform and the health care law, in a bicameral budget committee after the House passed a measure to fund government with no strings attached. Boehner immediately turned it down as a disingenuous proposal.

"I thought we had something he couldn't refuse," Reid said Thursday.

As the two sides continue to try to gain ground in the stalemate over the government shutdown by trading press conferences and political salvos, Reid's latest missive puts Boehner squarely in the crosshairs. Democrats repeatedly said Thursday that "all eyes are on Boehner," who is juggling a growing list of Republicans looking to reopen the federal government and conservatives who are holding out for a larger victory.

That internal battle has caused many to wonder if Boehner's speakership would be at risk if he caved at this point. Asked a question along those lines, Reid did not reject the premise and instead warned Boehner not to put his political livelihood ahead of the needs of Americans.

"I feel positive that John Boehner, who's basically a nice guy, cannot let this go on. He can't have his speakership more important than the country," Reid said.

"If John Boehner thinks that his speakership is more important than [furloughed federal workers], I feel sorry for John Boehner."

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