No compromise has been reached on the expiring Bush tax cuts, and National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman John Cornyn (R-TX) says that if lawmakers can't get anything done, the lame duck Congress might as well go home early.
"I think the Congress needs to cut the lame duck session short and go home, because not much good is being done here," he said on Fox News Monday when asked about Missouri Democrat Sen. Claire McCaskill's comment that Americans should take up "pitch forks" against Republicans calling for the tax cut extension to include the very wealthy.
"If they think it is okay to raise taxes for the embattled middle class, because they're going to pout if we don't give more money to millionaires, it really is time for the people of America to take out pitch forks," McCaskill said Friday.
"The phrase jumped out at me when I heard that, and she talked about people pouting," Cornyn said. "As if it's the government's money to give out. As if they'll give it out to millionaires. I think people who earned that money may feel a lot differently."
The Republican push to extend the so-called Bush-era tax cuts for everyone has been a sticking point for Democrats angling to let tax rates for the very wealthy expire, and McCaskill wasn't the only Democrat to vent Friday over what some have called Republican obstructionism.
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) likened Republican resistance to a piecemeal extension to being held "hostage." "It's almost a question of, ‘Do you negotiate with terrorists?" he said.
"That is way over the top," Cornyn said. "I bet Sen. Menendez, on a little bit of reflection, would like to take those words back. It is inappropriate."
Cornyn says Republicans have been open to compromise for some time. "There has been a deal to be had for many months, and apparently the Democrats have been divided," he said, noting that the Senate failed in holding a vote over tax cuts before Election Day.
As for whether the Senate can reach a compromise on another sticking point - the length of the tax rate extension - before the lame duck session goes home, Cornyn says, "There isn't a deal yet. But I'm for making it as long as we can."
Two Democratic procedural votes to extend the tax rates piecemeal failed Saturday. "We saw five Democrats vote with Republicans to knock down this halfway deal that was voted on, the showboat on Saturday that everybody knew was going nowhere," Cornyn says. "I hope that now that that is all over with, that there will be some resolution...because the last thing we need to do is raise taxes during a fragile economic recovery, and the president knows that, and Democrats know that, and Republicans know that."