Washington (CNN) – Two leading senators from opposing political sides agreed on Sunday that the major issues facing the upper chamber, like taxes and spending, will not be addressed before the November elections. But they disagreed on who deserves the blame.
"I think that's an honest appraisal," Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois said on CNN's "State of the Union," when asked if it was true the Senate would stall on such topics before the 2012 election.
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"There is no good reason for us to be here if we're not going to make some of these tough decisions, cast tough votes, that's what we get paid for. That's what we should do and that's what we should be held accountable for," Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley.
Although Durbin conceded Democrats and Republicans are both to blame for the stalemate in Washington, he singled out Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, for saying it was job No. 1 to make President Barack Obama a one-term president and for what Durbin said were unprecedented numbers of Republican filibusters.
"We just cannot take up anything constructive," Durbin said, pointing to last week's GOP filibuster of a bill to keep student loan interest rates from doubling in less than two months.
Republicans said they wanted to extend Democratic legislation that lowered interest rates but would not accept Democratic proposals to pay for a one-year extension by changing a law that would allow wealthy taxpayers to avoid paying taxes on some entitlements.
Meanwhile, Cornyn focused his criticism on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, who he said will not call important votes to the floor for fear Democratic incumbents will be required to cast "tough votes" before the election.
"When Sen. Reid refuses to allow the minority an opportunity to offer amendments and debate amendments and vote on amendments, then we have no choice but to say, we have to protect the minority's right to have a voice heard," Cornyn said. "The people we represent simply cannot be excluded because of Sen. Reid's fiat."
Both senators used their frustrations with Congress to stress the importance of Election Day.
"The American voters have the last word in November; do they want to continue this kind of obstructionism? Do they want to see something different?" Durbin said.
Cornyn, who serves as chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the group in charge of electing Republicans to the Senate, said Richard Mourdock's recent GOP primary victory over six-term incumbent Sen. Dick Lugar in Indiana is evidence of more to come.
"People are mad at what's happening in Washington," Cornyn said. "People are tired of just yelling at the TV set, they're actually going to turn out to vote. ... And they want to try new leaders, and that's what happened in Indiana."
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