Reid: ‘I Like John Boehner’ ‘But I Feel Sorry for Him’ ‘I Said to Him: What Can I Do to Help’

Terence P. Jeffrey | September 13, 2013 | 12:39am EDT
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(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

( - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D.-Nev.) said at a press conference on Thursday that he likes House Speaker John Boehner (R.-Ohio), but feels sorry for him and asked him at a meeting on Thursday morning what he could do to help him pass a continuing resolution in the Republican-majority House of Representatives that funds the government and that does not defund Obamacare.

Reid was speaking with reporters after he and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi had met with Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R.-Ky.).

Reid described the meeting as one in which he expressed his sympathy for Speaker Boehner and offered him his help in circumventing Tea Party activists in enacting a bill to fund the government after the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30 that does not include the demand of Tea Party activists that Obamacare be defunded.

“As we all know, the speaker has a problem--how to get the government funded,’ said Reid. “I want to be as helpful to him as I can be, but I had to be very candid with him, and I told him very directly that all these things they're trying to do on the ‘Obamacare’ is just a waste of their time.”

Reid then suggested that a majority of Republicans in the House sided with “anarchists.”

“As I said on the floor today, the anarchists are winning,” said Reid. “Anything that can be done to slow down, hurt or get rid of government any way, that's good. Shutting down the government obviously is what a majority of the Republican caucus wants to in the House.”

“If the Republican leaders keep giving in to the Tea Party and their impossible demands, they must be rooting for a shutdown,” Reid said.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D.-Ill.), the Senate Democratic whip, then joined Reid in expressing his at least occassional sympathy for Speaker Boehner—a sympathy that would be diminished, Durbin suggested, if Boehner listened to the Tea Party.

“I sometimes sympathize with Speaker Boehner, but the fact of the matter is, if he wants to lead for the good of this nation, he has to step beyond the Tea Party faction of his caucus,” said Durbin.

Sen. Patty Murray (D.-Wash.) then said she could understand why Boehner used what she called a “gimmick” to try to fund Obamacare in a CR while appeasing the Tea Party—a “gimmick” that did not work.

“Speaker Boehner clearly understands we're serious about this,” said Murray. “That's why the CR that he unveiled earlier this week used a gimmick to ensure that the government could stay open while still funding ‘Obamacare.’ But that wasn't good enough for the Tea Party. They don't want a show vote. They want a shutdown. And they will not be satisfied until they get one.”

A reporter finally asked Reid: “What specifically did you tell him [Boehner] you can and cannot do?"

“I said to him, what can I do to help?” said Reid. “Because I really feel that way.

"And that's a personal discussion. We need not go any further than that,” said Reid. “But it was not a yelling-at-each-other meeting. It was a very nice meeting that we had.”

“I like John Boehner. I like him,” said Reid. “But Dick [Durbin] said he--I don't know how you said it, Dick: You feel sorry for him, but you--what'd you say?”

“Not so much,” said Durbin as reporters laughed.

“But I do,” said Reid. “But I do feel sorry for him. I mean, he has to break away from those people that [are] ruining the Republican Party and hurting our country."

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