Transcript: Press briefing Q&A with Sen. Harry Reid on the government shutdown – Oct. 4, 2013

Partial transcript of press briefing Q&A with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on the government shutdown and debt ceiling on Oct. 4, 2013:

Question:
Aside from the meeting that you had at the White House, have you walked 100 yards or so to Speaker Boehner’s office once this week to talk through possible solutions? Or has he come to your office?

Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.):
I have said and I’ll tell you again. I’m not sure anyone comprehends – unless maybe Sen. Murray and Mikulski understand how it was to negotiate the number that Speaker Boehner said that we would have to agree to to get a clean CR. It wasn’t easy. It didn’t happen in two or three minutes. It took several days to convince Murray and Mikulski and the rest of the Democratic Senators that we would accept $70 billion less than what we passed from the Senate floor in our budget. I did that in a good faith compromise negotiations that I made with Speaker Boehner would bear fruit. I lived up to my end of the bargain; he didn’t.

Now, we know he tried to send us over a clean CR. We all know that he tried to have attached to that de-funding Obama.

So we are where we are. Everyone understands the fact that the only thing they want to deal with is Obamacare.

I’m sorry to give you such a long answer but let’s say there were a Republican President and we have a Democratic majority here in the Senate. And we say, “We’ll be happy to raise the debt ceiling. We’ll open up the government. But there’s 85% of the American people support background checks, people who have mental illness and criminals. We are not going to let them buy guns. And we will allow the government to re-open if you accept this bill that the vast majority of the American people accept.” Well, the only difference in this and what they’re trying to do is that it’s a different subject matter.

So the President can’t do this. He explained that very clearly just better than I did of course in the White House the other night.

So this thing that they’ve come up with – you know, we saw the exchange of McConnell… “Boy, we polled tested this. We think this is a great idea for us.”

We have negotiated our hearts out and we even went one step further one day this week when we said, “Okay, we’ll give you a deal you can’t refuse.” And that is, you want to talk, you want to negotiate, you want to have a conference – anything you wanted to talk about. We’ll talk about agriculture. We’ll talk about discretionary spending, and we’ll talk about health care. It’s a deal we thought he couldn’t refuse. But he did.

So we have negotiated a lot, and once, as Sen. Murray has said, once the government re-opens and get the debt ceiling settled, we’ll be happy to talk to them about anything they want to talk about. If there were things that I didn’t include in my letter, I told them, “We’ll talk about them.”

Question: [Inaudible]…

Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.):
…We believe that all government should be open. You know one of the things in the unanimous consent request that they propounded on national parks – the state of Nevada is 87% owned by the federal government and the vast majority of that is BLM land – Bureau of Land Management. They didn’t include that, which includes conservationaries all up and down the state. You can’t pick and choose. It doesn’t work…

But the fact is that we are doing the very best we can – every federal agency is doing the best they can to follow guidelines they’ve been given by the Office of Management and Budget, and that includes Sen. Durbin, who is chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense. He’s talked endlessly about the many hundreds of thousands of federal employees that work for the Defense Department. Half of them – I don’t know the exact percentage – half of them are veterans, 25% of them are disabled – they’re not being paid now…I don’t know what some park ranger said but I do know that this is a tremendous hurt to people throughout because of the intransigence of Speaker Boehner and his trap because of Obamacare, by the way, a law that’s four years old.

Question:
…[inaudible] one side offers some face-saving measure to the other so the other can actually save face. Why won’t you just – ?

Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.):
This is not a face-saving deal. This isn’t a date to the prom. This is our country. Our country. We worked very hard to get this Congress to accept that lower number, and it is a lower number. $70 billion less. So let’s not get this face-saving business here. Let’s talk about our country. Our country. What is more important?

I said in an interview yesterday, “What is more important? Our country or a position of leadership?” I said there and I hope that I would have the courage when it came to that that I would choose the country not over my job as leader.

Question:
…whether you plan to bring a clean debt limit bill to the floor next week and secondly what do you think of the talk that Speaker Boehner wants to get the budget deal in connection with the debt limit?

Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.):
The problem that we have with what’s going on in the House of Representatives – it changes by the hour. They had a bunch of bills that they were going to do today. Last I heard they were in recess trying to figure things out. So we’re pretty determined that we do things not in an erratic fashion. We’re going to wait and see what happens. I would hope that they would open the government today, tomorrow. So we’ll wait and see what we do next week. I’m not going to be determining what we’re going to do next week until next week…

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One Comment on “Transcript: Press briefing Q&A with Sen. Harry Reid on the government shutdown – Oct. 4, 2013

  1. Pingback: Transcript: Sen. Chuck Schumer's remarks on the government shutdown - Oct. 4, 2013 | What The Folly?!

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