Washington (CNN) - It’s an open secret that many congressional Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, were not happy with some of the past budget deals brokered by Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. They groused that they had given too much to Republicans in both the 2011 debt ceiling deal and as well as one last December focusing on the so-called fiscal cliff that pushed off only for a short time across-the-board spending cuts. And some blamed Biden - most notably Reid.
This time around, it’s Reid leading the charge for the Democrats. He’s made that point very clear, both inside and outside of the White House. As one administration official put it, "Reid is convinced he needs to stand his ground."
Translation: Biden butt out.
And there are lots of reasons for it. First, Reid has made it clear he doesn’t want history to repeat itself - and it won’t if he’s calling the shots. He’s got his caucus united behind him this time around. Plus, the action is has really been with House Republicans, a group not enamored with Biden, who served in the Senate for nearly four decades before becoming vice president.
And there’s another huge difference this time around: There have been no negotiations, at least not so far. That’s the strategy.
This is Reid’s show. And while Biden may be at the key meetings - and was spotted chatting with McConnell after one involving congressional leaders last week at the White House which raised some eyebrows - he’s not the point man this time around.
"There is a totally different crowd of people and dynamic," one administration official said. "This has been much more focused on the House than the Senate."
And one more thing: McConnell, who is facing a tough re-election race in Kentucky, is not anxious to get anywhere near a deal on these contentious issues - at least not now.
Biden may not be in charge, but he hasn’t disappeared: He has canceled several out of town political appearances in the last week so he can be in Washington. Just in case.