Transcript: Press briefing Q&A with Sen. Harry Reid on the continuing resolution to avert government shutdown – Sept. 30, 2013

Partial transcript of Q&A with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on a “clean” continuing resolution to avert government shutdown. The press briefing was held on Sept. 30, 2013:

Question: [Inaudible]

Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.):
…Maybe they’ll try something else. I don’t know when it gets here but it’ll take however long it takes to do. Get over here it’ll take us long enough to vote – 20, 30 minutes we’ll get rid of that. We are not going to negotiate on this. We have done everything we can to be fair…

Sen. [Patty] Murray, in spite of their ignoring her, in spite of ignoring Sen. [Barbara] Mikulski, we – why don’t they take yes for an answer. They got $988 [billion]. Ours is $70 billion above that.

The President has met with these folks all over town – the White House, took them to dinner in fancy restaurants. He put in writing what he was willing to do. Put it in writing. They have yet to issue a sentence after all those meals they’ve eaten, not a sentence, as to what they’re willing to do, which is nothing.

So our negotiation is over with and I’ve said that for two weeks they should pass the CR [continuing resolution]. They are closing down the government. I don’t know what in the world is wrong with them, why they’re fixated on this Obamacare. It is the law.

Tomorrow the exchange in Nevada is up. We have 600,000 people in the sparsely populated state of Nevada that need health care. In Nevada, they can buy a policy for $100 in Nevada. Damn sure can’t do it now. With Obamacare they can starting tomorrow.

Question:
Are you going to keep the Senate in session later tonight to dismiss the House’s latest proposal?

Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.):
Sure, we’re not going any place.

Question:
Do you feel like it’s important to stand your ground on this particular argument knowing that the debt limit fight is coming…?

Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.):
All the more reason. Just as Sen. Schumer said, you know, with a bully, you cannot let them slap around. Because if they slap you around today, they slap you 5 or 6 times tomorrow, 7 or 9 times. We are not going to be bullied.

We’ve done everything we can and we’ve done it very reasonably.

We have a debt ceiling coming that – this is horrible what they’re doing now. But as the Business Roundtable said, the Chamber of Commerce said the debt ceiling is cataclysmic. They are playing with fire, and the American people know who’s creating the fire.

Question:
Were you surprised that Speaker Boehner would go to [incomprehensible audio]?

Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.):
Well, I don’t know. I mean, he can try whatever he wants. But remember, just so the record is very very clear, to put us on exchanges and we are on exchanges – every Senator, every staff member of ours – 16,000 of them – are on exchanges and every step of the way Boehner knew what was going on. Every step of the way. McConnell knew what was going on. Pelosi knew what was going on. So for me, it’s fairly disingenuous of him to now say that he doesn’t want my staff to go on the exchanges, he doesn’t want me to go on the exchanges. But it doesn’t matter. We are not going to mess around with Obamacare no matter what they do.

They are – they’ve got to get a life as I said here last Thursday or whenever it was. They should get a life. It is the law, declared constitutional. Exchanges are coming on board tomorrow. I give you the example of Nevadans – that way all over the country.

And I look at this, one reason they’re so afraid is just like Social Security. It’s just like Medicare. You know, Republicans hated those two programs but now they’re so popular with everybody. And give it a little bit of time, Obamacare is going to be supported by 90% of the American people, just like Medicare.

I was on a hospital board – ran the biggest one in Nevada. When I came to work there – I was elected to that – 40% of seniors who came to that hospital had nothing and people had to sign for them to get into the hospital and to sign brother, sister, mother, father whoever it was. And if they didn’t pay, we’d go after them collection wise.

Now, 99.9% of all seniors who go into the hospital have been paid for. And that’s why people love Medicare. And that’s why the Republicans are afraid of Obamacare. ‘Cause just give it a little bit of time. It’s going to be as popular as Medicare and Social Security.

Question:
…Would you advise the President to just cut it off and raise the [incomprehensible audio]?

Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.):
We’ll wait and see what the Republicans want to do with debt ceiling and what the President wants to do.

Question:
There are a lot of government employees that are going to have to go without paychecks if this stuff goes through. I understand that you said this is a Republican shutdown. But at the same time, many of these people serve you your food every day and you all continue to get paid under a shutdown. What do you say to those people?

Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.):
What I’d say to those people is this: Understand we’re dealing with anarchists. They hate government. And who is the worst part of government from their perspective? It’s people that work for the federal government, whether waiting on tables, whether part of the FBI. It doesn’t matter what it is.

We are going to do everything within our power to protect federal employees, and I say this without any qualifications or reservations. We are not going to do anything other than wait for them to pass our CR because otherwise government’s going to shut down.

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