WASHINGTON—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's comment likening a Republican lawmaker to a schoolyard bully is drawing a rebuttal from his target—and a suggestion from another senator that he apologize.

Reid made the remark about Sen. Ted Cruz on Monday after the Texan objected when Democrats sought formal negotiations with the House on a budget compromise.

In a next-day rebuttal that was part tongue-in-cheek, Cruz thanked Reid for his candor—in not disputing that Democrats want to use the negotiations to raise taxes.

Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah said if Reid simply slipped when he spoke, Cruz would accept an apology. If not, he said the remarks deserve closer scrutiny because they violate Senate rules.

Reid's spokesman had no immediate comment.


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