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US House speaker urges Senate to get 'off their ass'

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

US House Speaker John Boehner on Tuesday laid bare the Republican leadership's exasperation over looming budget cuts, as he demanded the Senate "gets off their ass" and forge a compromise that would avert a crisis.

Boehner and his fellow Republican leaders also took aim at President Barack Obama's failure to craft a deal ahead of the March 1 deadline, when $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts kick in unless Congress and the White House reach a last minute deal.

"I don't think the president's focused on trying to find a solution to the sequester," an angry Boehner told reporters after meeting with his caucus.

Obama was traveling to Newport News, Virginia -- home to major military bases, ports and shipbuilders -- on Tuesday to discuss the impact of the cuts, but Boehner slammed the move as using "our military men and women as a prop in yet another campaign rally to support his tax hikes."

The speaker reserved his harshest language for the Democratically-led Senate, which he blames for failing to pass any sequester-replacement legislation despite action by the Republican-held House.

"We have moved a bill in the House twice. We should not have to move a third bill before the Senate gets off their ass and begins to do something," Boehner said.

Another top Republican, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, accused Obama of traveling some 5,000 miles (8,000 kilometers) in the past two weeks selling tax hikes to the American people.

"We need the president to lead and get off the campaign trail," she said. "We challenge him, travel a mile and a half to Capitol Hill" and work out a budget deal.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said his Democrats were unveiling a "balanced proposal" on Tuesday that he hoped to bring to a vote this week.

The bill, he said, would "replace those across-the-board cuts for this year with smart spending reductions, measures that close corporate tax loopholes and end wasteful subsidies and revenue from the very wealthiest among us -- Americans making millions of dollars each year."

Reid said Democrats were ready to "work with Republicans" to find a compromise, but "unfortunately, Republicans are standing in the way of a solution" by opposing any new tax revenue.

Boehner made clear the House would not stand for any new tax hikes.

"He's gotten his tax hikes," Boehner said of Obama. "It's time to focus on the real problem here in Washington and that is spending."

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130226/us-house-speaker-urges-senate-get-their-ass