The Democratically-controlled Senate may have passed the debt deal easily, but behind the scenes irritable Democrats are spending the day backpedaling from using words like “terrorist” and “Satan” to describe their opposition to the GOP victory, risking even more public derision of the Washington political process.
Vice President Joe Biden triggered an outcry Monday when he agreed with House Democrats as they described Tea Party Republicans as “terrorists.” Biden first denied he used the term, but his office later conceded that he and others used it in a closed door meeting with House Democrats.
After POLITICO reported that Biden said the Tea Party “have acted liked terrorists,” the GOP cried foul and in the ensuing controversy Biden’s spokesperson, Kendra Barkoff, finally issued a statement “clarifying” the issue.
“The word [terrorist] was used by several members of Congress. The vice president does not believe it’s an appropriate term in political discourse.”
During the closed door meeting, Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) also verbally attacked the Tea Party movement and Republicans who support the group’s platform in his comments.
“We have negotiated with terrorists,” a frustrated Doyle said, according to sources that were in the room at the time the statement was made.
Biden, long known for off-the-tongue remarks, told Senate Democrats earlier the same day that Republican leaders have “guns to their heads” when referring to the negotiations over the budget deal.
In an interview with CBS later Monday, Biden denied using the “terrorism” phrase. “I did not use the terrorism word,” Biden told CBS News anchor Scott Pelley.
The Democratic sniping produced strong GOP reactions. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), recently elected and a staunch supporter of Tea Party principles and the son of Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), was insulted by Doyle and Biden’s reported remarks.
“With the president holding the American economy hostage, I would prefer to think of myself as a Freedom Fighter,” Paul said in a written statement.
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), a declared presidential candidate and chairman of the House Tea Party caucus, was also critical of the negative comments made about Tea Party supporters.
"Only in a bizarro world of Washington is fiscal responsibility sometimes defined as terrorism," wrote Bachmann, according to The Hill.
The vice president’s comments were not the only ones that Republicans viewed as “inappropriate” in legislative discourse.
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, also made controversial comments after details of the deal were announced. On Monday, Cleaver posted a message on Twitter saying, “This deal is a sugar-coated Satan sandwich. If you lift the bun, you will not like what you see.”
Cleaver said the bill was not a true compromise given that Democrats did not realize any new revenue or tax increases in the final version of the bill.
“If I were a Republican I would be dancing in the streets,” Cleaver said in his remarks. “I don’t have any idea what the Republicans wanted that they didn’t get.”
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) asserted the deal is “a surrender to Republican extortion,” in The Washington Post.
The budget deal to raise the nation’s debt ceiling passed the House of Representatives on Monday night by a vote of 269-161. Republicans and Democrats both supported the deal, however 66 Republicans and 95 Democrats voted against the final version.
The Senate passed the measure 74-26 early Tuesday afternoon. President Obama signed the deal hours before default deadline.