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House GOP SNAFU Worries Democratic Leaders

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 4:44 p.m. | With the debt limit deadline and bipartisan budget negotiations approaching, Democratic leaders expressed concern Thursday over the House GOP's delayed leadership elections.  

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid spoke of the "utter chaos" of the Republican Party following California Rep. Kevin McCarthy's decision to drop out of the race to replace outgoing Speaker John A. Boehner.  

Reid called for bipartisan work "immediately to take the threat of a default off the table" while both sides negotiate a budget deal.  

"Republican chaos is likely to get worse before it gets better, but the economic livelihood of the American people should not be threatened as a result of Republicans’ inability to govern," the Nevada Democrat said.  

Reid's worries were echoed by the Senate's No. 3 Democrat, Charles E. Schumer of New York, who said, "If Congress waits around for the Republican Family Feud to resolve itself, we’ll risk a government shutdown and defaulting on our national debt."  

House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland said, "Today's news is yet another sign that Republican are unfit to lead the House. ... It's bad news for the American people who expect Congress to get things done on their behalf."  

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, wasn't as long-winded as her colleagues. In a written statement, the California Democrat said, "It's up to House Republicans to choose the next Speaker."  

Rank-and-file California Democrat Tony Cárdenas said in a statement: “While many of my colleagues are satisfied to watch the Republican caucus implode, I am taken by a great moment of sadness for our nation.”

Rep. Steve Israel, chairman of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, which makes the House Democrats' message, had this to say: "At the end of the day, it helps explain why the Democratic brand in Congress is doing so much better than the Republican brand in Congress right now. I mean, there's very fresh data on this — that the Republican brand is diminishing and the Democratic brand is good, and that gap has implications in lots of different areas, voter turnout and everything else."

Asked how Democrats will use the chaos to their advantage, he said, "Here's how: We're not going to get in their way. We're not  going to step on their message. We'll continue to be focused on priorities and getting to the concerns of the American people, and we'll let them continue to be focused on themselves."

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