Government shutdown: Harry Reid: ‘I am not a criminal’
By: Burgess Everett
October 2, 2013 11:24 AM EDT
There will be no charm offensive from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who said Wednesday that Republicans are “obsessed” with beating him in a political chess match rather than opening back up the government.
“Some in the Republican conference are too mad at me personally, too obsessed at getting me personally to back down from doing what most of America believes is the right thing,” Reid said, again reiterating that the Senate’s six-week clean spending bill is the only way out of a shutdown.
The Nevada Democrat also defended his role in fighting Republican attempts to water down Obamacare as a condition to keeping the government open, responding directly to a National Review piece that called him the “villain of villains.”
“When I read this yesterday, I thought, no one likes to be called a villain,” Reid said, reading aloud definitions of the word that mean “uncouth,” “scoundrel” or “criminal.” “I am not a criminal. I am not a scoundrel. So they better get a different definition of me.”
As the federal government woke up to its second day of a shutdown, Reid came to the Senate floor to rip House Republicans for taking their cues from tea party “anarchists” like Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and not concede anything on Obamacare. Of Cruz, Reid said the Texas freshman firebrand “goes over to the House and tells them what to do.”
“When your latest brilliant plan came from the same person that proposed the dumbest idea ever — according to one of his own Republican senators here — I would [see] this [as]a sign that you are on the wrong track,” Reid said. “It is time to stop throwing one crazy idea after another at the wall in hopes that something will stick. There’s been a sensible plan to reopen the government: A clean six-week resolution that opens the government today — and we passed in the Senate last week.”
Reid’s blistering floor remarks kicked off a day in the Senate mostly devoted to messaging. Senate Democrats will appear alongside furloughed federal workers at a press conference on Wednesday, seeking for a second day to paint the cutoff in government services as a consequence of the “Republican shutdown” — and wait for House Republicans to cave.