Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Tuesday there is no chance of striking a deal to avert the deep budget cuts set to take effect Friday unless the final compromise includes a tax hike.
"I think we need some revenue to take the pressure off everybody," Reid said. "The American people agree with me. And until there's some agreement on revenue, I believe we should just go ahead with the sequester."
Reid's Senate Democrats and House Republicans are in a standoff over how to avert the $85 billion in across-the-board cuts to both domestic and military budgets.
Senate Republicans on Tuesday floated the idea of letting the cuts take effect, but giving President Obama the authority to decide where to cut. Reid doesn't like it. He said Congress has already ceded enough power to the White House because House Republicans will not clear any bill that includes earmarks.
"Now they want to give the president more power,?" Reid said.
Meanwhile both chambers are trying to pass off like a hot potato the task of approving a bill that would avert the sequester, which in total saves $1.2 trillion over a decade.
"House Republicans have declared that their entire strategy is to sit on the sidelines instead of working with us to pass something to replace the harsh austerity of the sequester that they voted for," said Reid, who plans to bring to the floor by Thursday a bill that would avert the sequester but raises taxes.
Earlier Tuesday, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, reminded reporters that the House last year passed two bills to offset the sequester with cuts only. He said the Democratic Senate now needs to get "off their ass" and pass their own proposal.
Reporters later asked Reid, who grew up outside Las Vegas, to respond to Boehner.
"You know, I was raised in a little town that had 13 brothels in it, so I'm used to some pretty salty language, as you know," Reid said.
"I think he should understand who is sitting on their posterior. We're doing our best here to pass something. The speaker's doing nothing to try to pass anything over there. He's falling back onto what he said they did last Congress."