*Updated 8/1/11 7:00 PM EST
(all emphasis below is mine)
Senator Tom Harkin, Iowa Democrat, lambasted the GOP over the debt ceiling bill on the Senate floor on Monday when he said, ” If there’s a Democratic president, then Republicans have to come up with half of the votes, 50% of the votes to raise the debt ceiling. If there’s a Republican president Democrats have come up with 50% of the votes,” he said.
He added, “That’s the way it’s always worked. So one side doesn’t blame the other side for raising the national debt ceiling. Well That’s not the way it’s working this time. Congressional Republicans are holding our nation hostage, threatening to default on our national debt and plunge America into an abyss.”
Congressman Keith Ellison, Minnesota Democrat, made a similar remark earlier in the day at the House progressive caucus press conference, saying that the members of the Republican party aligned with the tea party movement are holding “our economy hostage.”
“They would plunge America into that unless their demands are met. Let me be clear. This is not a negotiating tactic. This is blackmail. Republicans have basically said they will inflict grievous harm on the economy if the Democrats do not meet our demand.”
Senator Tom Harkin
Mr. Harkin is opposed to the debt ceiling plan hammered out among party leaders on both sides of the aisle and called on President Obama to use the 14th amendment to raise the debt ceiling unilaterally from the executive branch. The progressive caucus called for the president to take this action as well on Monday afternoon.
Senator Harkin called GOP tactics “blackmail” and warned Republicans about how Democrats will react from the “precedent” he believes Republicans have established.
“Well President Obama said it earlier. We’re not going into default. So this with kind of lopsided deal, the ransom is paid, the hostage is released. But what a terrible precedent this sets. Make no mistake, Republicans will use these same despicable tactics down the road in the future.”
“Let me just say with this kind of precedent, I can see a Republican president—and there will be one sometime—I hope not too soon, but there will be a Republican president and there will be a Democratic Congress, and Democrats will use this as a precedent. We’ll hold it hostage. Is this the way we want to start running our country?”