Eric Cantor’s simmering insistence on avoiding tax hikes has boiled to a political tempest in Washington’s debt negotiations, infuriating Democrats who are now labeling the majority leader as “childish” and forcing Republicans to insist there’s no rift between House Speaker John Boehner and his top deputy.

Cantor’s steadfast refusal to raise taxes as part of a deal to increase the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt limit has earned him praise from the Tea Party wing of his own party, but the scorn of Democrats, who are demanding the No. 2 House Republican be booted from negotiations.

“Eric Cantor has shown that he shouldn’t even be at the table and Republicans agree he shouldn’t be at the table,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said on the chamber’s floor Thursday.

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