WASHINGTON – Senate Democrats on Tuesday posed an ultimatum to Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) on the budget: Bring your tea party "extremists" in line or prepare for a government shutdown come April 8.
On a conference call with reporters, Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Thomas Carper (D-DE) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) took turns excoriating Boehner for what they depicted as the House GOP leadership's capitulation to the 87 House freshmen threatening to scuttle any deal with insufficiently high spending cuts.
"Our problem is that we see now that Speaker Boehner is yielding to the extremes of his party, basically saying he's not going to negotiate, take it or leave it," Cardin said, insisting that Democrats were eager to compromise and cede ground to reach a deal.
"The anchor around the neck of these negotiations is a relatively small, extreme group of ideologues on the Republican side," Blumenthal added. "They are an anchor that needs to be cut loose. Only Speaker Boehner can do it, and he needs to do it now, otherwise we will have a shutdown. The ball is in his court."