Boehner Cusses Out Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

By John Bresnahan, Carrie Budoff Brown, Manu Raju and Jake Sherman

House Speaker John Boehner couldn't hold back when he spotted Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in the White House lobby last Friday.

It was only a few days before the nation would go over the fiscal cliff, no bipartisan agreement was in sight, and Reid had just publicly accused Boehner of running a "dictatorship" in the House and caring more about holding onto his gavel than striking a deal.

"Go f-- yourself," Boehner sniped as he pointed his finger at Reid, according to multiple sources present.

Reid, a bit startled, replied: "What are you talking about?"

Boehner repeated: "Go f-- yourself."

(PHOTOS: Pols who dropped the 'f bomb')

The harsh exchange just a few steps from the Oval Office -- which Boehner later bragged about to fellow Republicans -- was only one episode in nearly two months of high-stakes negotiations laced with distrust, miscommunication, false starts and yelling matches as Washington struggled to ward off $500 billion in tax hikes and spending cuts.

(Also on POLITICO: Crisis averted: Cliff bill clears Congress)

The White House and Congress knew of the self-imposed deadline for more than 17 months and they still blew past it, as a president fresh off a strong reelection victory tested -- and ultimately broke -- the Republican Party's fidelity to its tax-cuts-only governing philosophy.

It took a late intervention of two Senate veterans -- Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Vice President Joe Biden -- to rescue the negotiations. Their relationship, forged over two decades on Capitol Hill, helped move Congress to a resolution because it wasn't burdened by the raw political conflicts of the past and the legislative fights still to come.

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