Senate Democratic leaders Thursday turned their attention to the debt ceiling—while also blasting away at Speaker John Boehner.
"The debt ceiling's facing us very quickly So we're talking about the CR (budget) now, but it's hard to separate the two because they're right on top of us," said Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Neva.
He told reporters the Senate would act on a debt ceiling without strings. Obama, said Reid, "is not going to negotiate. We aren't either."
There's been some talk of fashioning a government funding bill that includes repeal of the 2.3 percent medical device tax. The House included repeal in one of the measures it passed and the Senate earlier this year endorsed repeal by an overwhelming vote.
Reid reiterated his stand Thursday: If you want repeal, open up the government first.
"We said we'll negotiate on anything they want to talk about. That includes, as we indicated, anything -- health care device tax, but the government has to be open," he said. "We have to get the debt ceiling out of the way. This stuff's upon us."
Reid was alternately insulting and kind to Boehner. "I feel positive that John Boehner, who's basically a nice guy, cannot let this go on. He can't let this go on. He can't have his speakership more important than the country," Reid said at one point.
But he also had a more stern message:
"We have a very simple message today for Speaker Boehner," Reid said.; "Let the House stop those irresponsible, reckless games and just reopen the government. He single-handedly is keeping the government shut.
"Some recent stories have even suggested that the speaker is keeping the government shut down because I hurt his feelings. That's true. I'm sorry I hurt your feelings. But we shouldn't take it out on hundreds of thousands of Americans who are out of work, and they're really suffering."