Vice President Joe Biden joined House Democrats in lashing tea party Republicans Monday, accusing them of having "acted like terrorists" in the fight over raising the nation's debt limit, POLITICO reported according to several sources in the room.
Biden was agreeing with a line of argument made by Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Pa., at a two-hour, closed-door Democratic Caucus meeting.
"We have negotiated with terrorists," an angry Doyle said, POLITICO reported. "This small group of terrorists have made it impossible to spend any money."
Biden, driven by his Democratic allies' misgivings about the debt-limit deal, responded: "They have acted like terrorists."
Biden's office initially declined to comment about what the vice president said inside the closed-door session, but after POLITICO published the remarks, spokeswoman Kendra Barkoff said: "The word was used by several members of Congress. The vice president does not believe it's an appropriate term in political discourse."
Biden later denied he used that term in an interview with CBS.
"I did not use the terrorism word," Biden told CBS Evening News anchor and managing editor Scott Pelley.
Earlier in the day, Biden told Senate Democrats that Republican leaders have "guns to their heads" in trying to negotiate deals.
The vice president's hot rhetoric about tea party Republicans underscored the tense time on Capitol Hill. Democrats had no shortage of colorful phrases in wake of the deal.
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., called it a "Satan sandwich," and Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., seemed to enjoy the heat analogy, saying: "the Tea Partiers and the GOP have made their slash and burn lunacy clear, and while I do not love this compromise, my vote is a hose to stop the burning. The arsonists must be stopped."
The deal was consummated Sunday night, the text of the bill was posted in the wee hours of Monday morning, and the House voted Monday evening. The Senate will vote Tuesday.
But there are still plenty of concerns in both parties and in both chambers.
Liberal Democrats have had the most averse reaction to the plan, which ensures between $2.1 trillion and $2.4 trillion in deficit reduction over the next decade without requiring any of it to come from tax increases.
Biden told Democratic lawmakers that the deal would take away the tea party's "weapon of mass destruction" — the threat of a default on U.S. debt obligations.
"They have no compunction about blowing up the economy to get what they want," Doyle told POLITICO after the meeting.
POLITICO and the St. Petersburg Times have partnered for the 2012 presidential election.