WASHINGTON -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid accused the House of Representatives Thursday of being a "dictatorship" -- albeit an extremely poor one.
Reid (D-Nev.) took to the Senate floor to declare his frustration with the other chamber as the deadline to deal with the so-called fiscal cliff rapidly approaches.
Reid argued that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) could easily end the standoff and avert the across-the-board tax hike in 2013 simply by bringing up legislation the Senate has already passed to preserve the Bush-era tax cuts for income under $250,000, covering 98 percent of taxpayers.
But Reid charged that Boehner won't do that because he only caters to members of his own party and will only bring up legislation supported by a majority of Republicans.
"The American people I don't think understand the House of Representatives is operating without the House of Representatives," Reid said. "It's being operated by a dictatorship of the speaker, not allowing the vast majority of the House of Representatives to get what they want."
"If the 250 were brought up, it would pass overwhelmingly," Reid said, referring to the cut-off for income tax cuts. He also noted that Democrats in the House and enough Republicans would vote for it.
"What goes on in this country shouldn't be decided by 'the majority,' it should be decided by the whole House of Representatives," Reid said.
"The speaker, he said, 'No, it has to be a majority of the majority,'" Reid added.
The Senate leader also suggested Boehner is stalling because if his members vote after Jan. 3 when Congress comes back, Boehner won't have forced his Tea Party members to take a tough vote on raising taxes, thus assuring he keeps his top job.
"John Boehner seems to care more about keeping his speakership than keeping the nation on firm financial footing," Reid charged.
But Reid also sugested Boehner must be an especially weak autocrat, noting that his attempt last week to pass a "Plan B," which would have raised taxes only on income above $1 million, had to be pulled back before a vote because his members rebelled.
"He has so many people over there that won't follow what he wants," Reid said. "That's obvious from the debacle that took place that week. And it was a debacle."
"It was so bad, he was in such difficult shape there, he wouldn't even allow a vote to take place with his Republicans because he knew he would lose," Reid said.
With Boehner saying that he won't bring the House back to deal with anything without first giving 48 hours' notice, Reid appeared to predict that Congress would not act in time to avert the cliff, which also includes the expiration of emergency unemployment benefits and the 2 percent payroll tax cut, and the start of mandatory spending cuts.
"I don't know, time-wise, how it can happen now," Reid said.
Boehner's office was unimpressed with Reid's declarations.
"Senator Reid should talk less and legislate more," said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel. "The House has already passed legislation to avoid the entire fiscal cliff. Senate Democrats have not."
Steel was referring to a measure the House passed that froze rates for all taxpayers and addressed some of the mandatory cuts. The Senate, however, voted on that plan last summer and rejected it.
Michael McAuliff covers Congress and politics for The Huffington Post. Talk to him on Facebook.