WASHINGTON -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid declared Friday, "Gee whiz" is John Boehner "taking a political battering," spurred to incredulity by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who blamed Democrats for killing the House speaker's 'Plan B."
Boehner (R-Ohio) had hoped to pass a fallback option to keep the expiring Bush-era tax cuts in place after Jan. 1 for all incomes below $1 million. But his members rebelled Thursday night, and the speaker was forced to dump his own bill.
“Democrats may be popping champagne corks today about bringing down Plan B, but all their efforts to do so yesterday won’t protect a single taxpayer from a massive tax hike next month," said McConnell (R-Ky.) in a Senate floor speech.
He also insisted that Democrats were the ones who were scrambling and failing to provide solutions, saying Reid should "break through the disarray in his own caucus and build bipartisan support" for something that could pass. Failing that, McConnell said Reid should accept a House bill -- that the Senate voted down before -- that keeps all tax rates lower for another year.
McConnell spoke after Reid, but the majority leader was moved to return after hearing his counterpart's remarks.
Reid (D-Nev.) seemed especially flummoxed by the idea that Senate Democrats were somehow in disarray and culpable for the Tea Party rebellion against Boehner's Plan B.
"I like John Boehner," Reid said. "But, gee whiz. This is a pretty big political battering he's taking."
Reid said that what Boehner should do was take up the bill that the Senate passed in July that would keep all tax rates in place for incomes under $250,000. And he mocked McConnell's suggestion to return to the old House idea after the Senate rejected it.
"If this weren't such a serious situation we face, it would be laughable," Reid said. "Can you imagine saying that we should defeat a bill that we have already defeated?"
McConnell responded that he was suggesting not that the Senate vote on the same legislation, but take it up again and amend it, if Democrats saw fit, as a way to get a new piece of legislation to the House.
"If our friends in the majority don't like that version of it, they could call it up, amend it, and see if there's a majority in the Senate for something," McConnell said. "The time for finger-pointing, it seems to me, is about over."
His suggestion stems from a procedural issue with the Senate bill that Republicans have raised as a reason to ignore the Senate measure in the House. Taking the House bill back up would avoid that problem, but Democrats have often pointed out that the House also has ways to fix the problem, and many ways to pass the Senate's tax cut.
Either way, Senate Democrats were standing by their demand that the House take their language.
"The speaker is all-powerful in the House," Reid said. "To blame us for that travesty that took place over there ... that is pretty incredible."
Michael McAuliff covers Congress and politics for The Huffington Post. Talk to him on Facebook.