"If we can't get a good deal, a balanced deal, that calls on the wealthy to pay their fair share, then I will absolutely continue this debate into 2013, rather than lock in a long-term deal this year that throws middle-class families under the bus," Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said during a discussion of the "fiscal cliff" at the Brookings Institution in Washington.
"Fiscal cliff" is a term describing the potential crisis the federal government faces at the end of 2012 when the tax cuts passed during the administration of President George W. Bush and other tax-and-spending provisions totaling about $600 billion are due to expire.
Murray, a Budget Committee member and former co-chairwoman of the debt supercommittee, said she hopes "it doesn't come to that," and that there are reasons to believe congressional Democrats and Republicans can reach a deal before the end of the year, ABC News reported.
"If Republicans won't work with us on a balanced approach, we are not going to get a deal," Murray said, suggesting "responsible Republicans" must step up in pushing for revenue and raising taxes.
Murray's threat, first reported Sunday by The Washington Post, drew sharp criticism from Republican leaders.
"In their near-fanatical crusade to inflict even more pain on American businesses, Democrats are now openly admitting that they plan to wait until this debate reaches full throttle and Americans are panicked about the outcome to do anything, because they think it will make it likelier they'll get their way," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said during floor debate Monday.
"And if they don't, then so be it. They're ready to accept the economic and fiscal consequences. They see a crisis coming, and they don't want to waste it," McConnell said.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, asked in a statement Monday: "Has it come to this, that Democrats are willing to hurt jobs and tank our economy for the sake of a small business tax hike that would also have disastrous consequences?"
Murray's comments came after President Barack Obama said he wants to allow the Bush tax cuts to expire for Americans who make more than $250,000 while extending cuts for those making less.