Transcript: Press briefing Q&A with Sen. Harry Reid on the government shutdown – Oct. 2, 2013

Partial transcript of press briefing Q&A Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on the government shutdown on Oct. 2, 2013:

Question:
[Inaudible]

Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.):
…What right did they have to pick and choose what part of the government is going to be funded? It’s obvious what’s going on here. You talk about reckless and irresponsible. Wow. What this is all about is Obamacare. They are obsessed. I don’t know what other word I can use. I don’t know what other word I can use. They are obsessed with this Obamacare thing.

As has been pointed out on the floor over the last few days, they did the same thing on Social Security, they did the same thing on Medicare, and now they’re doing it on this. It’s working. It’s working now and it’ll continue to work and people will love it even more than they do now by far.

So they have no right to pick and choose.

Question:
[Inaudible]

Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.):
Why would we want to do that? I have 1,100 people at Nellis Air Force Base that are sitting home. They have a few problems of their own.

To have someone of your intelligence to suggest such a thing may mean you’re as irresponsible…

Question:
Republicans are already saying they’re skeptical of what’s going to happen in this meeting at the White House later today. What if anything do you hope comes out of it?

Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.):
It’s not my meeting. I’ve been invited to a meeting. I’m going to go to the meeting. But it appears that based upon our attempt to give them what they wanted – listen to what this letter says. “We take your number. We don’t like it. We took it.” It isn’t our budget number. We also said you sent us something over here said if we go to conference you’ll open the government. Well, Sen. Schumer said, “Reverse and open the government and we’ll go to conference.” So I don’t understand what they’re doing. I repeat: Reckless. Irresponsible. I mean that is certainly an understatement. It’s hard to try to explain this.

Question:
…When you proposed this to Speaker Boehner, what did he say?

Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.):
He had the letter and he read it. I think it’s fair but not for me to characterize our conversation. It was cordial. No one was yelling at each other. But let him explain what he thought…

Question:
…Do you believe the meeting this afternoon is a good idea?

Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.):
…Not me, some people felt that we had to get this CR – what was going on on the floor out of the way first. We’ve done that. If there are clearly a way of showing that they are not willing to do anything reasonable, it’s this. I didn’t call the meeting. The President called the meeting. We’ll go to the meeting. I think it’s important he listen to what Boehner and McConnell had to say. He knows how Pelosi and I feel.

Question:
…Republicans have rejected going to a budget conference handful of times. The House has passed appropriations bills. Why not move to go to an appropriations conference and potentially – ?

Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.):
You’ve got to be kidding. Remember we did that. We did that. We got one Republican – Susan Collins – and they wouldn’t let us go to it. We tried. Her bill. Patty Murray’s bill. So we’d love to go to – Mikulski would be overjoyed to go to the bill. We’ve tried. They won’t let us go to it.

Question:
If the Republicans take you up on your offer, open up the government, sit down to a budget conference, would taxes on the table or off the table?

Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.):
I say on the letter, yes. I say it in the letter specifically. All the little goodies that they want to talk about I listed in the letter.

Question:
Would the debt ceiling be on the table as part of this discussion?

Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.):
I would hope that if we do some long-term dealing with fiscal things in this country, people should understand 10 days from now we have the big one coming.

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