(CNN) – Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele Tuesday demanded that the Senate Democratic leader apologize for invoking slavery as he criticized Republicans for their opposition to passing health care reform.
"Instead of joining us on the right side of history, all Republicans can come up with is this: Slow down, stop everything, let's start over," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, said Monday.
"If you think you've heard these same excuses before, you're right," Reid also said from the Senate floor. "When this country belatedly recognized the wrongs of slavery, there were those who dug in their heels and said slow down, it's too early, let's wait, things aren't bad enough."
Steele, the RNC's first African-American chairman, took exception with Reid's remarks.
"It was not a sober moment for Harry Reid at all," Steele said Tuesday morning on CBS. "It was an ignorant moment.
"I'm kind of sick and tired of the left and Democrats in this country. When they get into trouble and don't get their way and their backs are up against the wall on legislation or whatever it is that they're trying to do, they go to that card. They play that race card, that slavery card, that civil rights card."
Steele added that disagreements with Democrats over health care reform have "nothing to do with the historic roots of slavery."
The RNC head said Reid "needs to go to the well of the Senate, take it back, and apologize for offending the sensibilities of the American people on something so important."