(CNSNews.com) - On the floor of the U.S. Senate on Friday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D.-Nev.) said that “a very wealthy group of people” are backing the Tea Party in what Reid described as an “effort to destroy our government.”
“A bad day for government is a good day for the anarchists among us, those who believe in no—I repeat, no—government. That is their belief,” Reid said. “The modern-day anarchists known as the Tea Party, they believe in no government. And they are backed by a very wealthy group of people who finance this effort to destroy our government.”
Reid’s accusation that the Tea Party is an “effort to destroy our government”—which he made at 12:16 p.m. Friday afternoon Eastern time--was not included in “his remarks as prepared for delivery” that were posted on his official Senate website. However, they were captured on video by C-SPAN and included in the transcript of Reid’s speech printed in the Congressional Record.
“Today, the Republican Party has been infected by a small but destructive faction that would rather tear down the House our Founders built than govern from it,” said Reid. “These extremists are more interested in putting on a show, as one Republican colleague put it, than in legislating. That is why they prevented the Senate from taking action to avert a government shutdown last night to put on a show today.
“Despite pleas from the House of Representatives for a quick Senate action, that same vocal minority was determined to waste the dwindling hours before a government shutdown—one day, basically, they wasted,” said Reid. “Although every minute that passes puts this country one minute closer to a shutdown, a shutdown that would shatter our economy, yet they continue to obstruct and to delay.
“A bad day for government is a good day for the anarchists among us, those who believe in no—I repeat, no—government,” said Reid. “That is their belief. The modern-day anarchists known as the Tea Party, they believe in no government. And they are backed by a very wealthy group of people who finance this effort to destroy our government.
“It is important to note these Tea Party obstructionists don’t represent mainstream Republicans either in this body or mainstream Republicans in our country,” said Reid. “But unfortunately their grip on the rudder of the Republican Party is very firm.”
Later in his speech, Reid asked: “So the question is: Can we overcome modern-day anarchists?”
The Senate majority leader’s description of the Tea Party as an “effort to destroy our government” came in the last speech on the Senate floor before the Senate voted on cloture to end debate and hold a final vote on the continuing resolution that had been passed by the Republican-controlled House to fund the government after the current CR expires at midnight Monday.
Many conservatives in the House and Senate, as well as around the country, argued that the 46 Republicans in the Senate should stand together and vote against cloture—a measure that requires 60 votes to succeed—until Reid agreed to a rule that amendments to the CR also meet the 60-vote threshold. These conservatives argued that if Senate Republicans agreed to vote with Reid on cloture on the CR without such an agreement, he would simply turn around and have Senate Democrats approve, by a simple majority vote, an amendment stripping the House CR of its language defunding Obamacare.
Reid did exactly that. His amendment to remove the language defunding Obamacare from the House CR was approved along strict party lines, 54 to 44, with two Republican senators (Orrin Hatch of Utah and Jeff Flake of Arizona) absent because they were attending the weddings of their granddaughter and son respectively. Flake said he would have voted no on cloture; Hatch said they would have voted yes. But both absent Republican senators said they would have voted “no” on Reid's amendment and the final amended CR.
After Reid's amendment passed on a party-line vote, the Senate approved the Obamacare-funding version of the CR also on a party-line vote.