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December 20, 2014

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Reid challenges ‘mainstream’ Republicans to step up

Majority leader calls Heck ‘anti-woman’ for voting to repeal health care law

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Charles Dharapak / AP

A Marine honor guard holds open the door to the West Wing of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013, as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Budget Committee Chair Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., walk out to talk to reporters following a meeting with President Barack Obama regarding the government shutdown and debt ceiling.

Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., pitched the nation’s next budget battle as a contest between “mainstream” Republicans and the “insane” Tea Party wing of the Republican Party.

In an interview Thursday with KNPR’s "State of Nevada," he pointed to Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., as an example of a lawmaker who recently voted against a bill that reopened the federal government after a 16-day shutdown and narrowly avoided a federal government default on the country’s debt.

“Come on, mainstream Republicans, stop this,” he said.

Following the 16-day government shutdown earlier this month, the federal government again faces the risk of shutdown if Congress can’t pass some kind of budget by Jan. 15.

But will there be a deal between Republicans and Democrats in Congress?

“If we’re dealing with sane people, the answer is yes, but we’ll have to see if the mainstream Republicans step up and take over their party,” Reid said.

He later said, “We’re going to have to have mainstream Republicans step up again.”

Reid said he was “sad” to see the Republican Party taken over by “illogical and not rational people” who kept voting to do the same thing with the same result when it came to repeated attempts to repeal President Barack Obama’s health care law during the past few years.

“We have a bunch of insane people in the House of Representatives,” he said. “And we found that they voted 45 times, the same vote, always the same result, to defund Obamacare.”

(Congress voted more than 40 times to repeal President Barack Obama’s health care law.)

Reid lumped Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., into this group, saying he was “anti-woman” for voting to repeal the health care law, which has provisions that expand benefits for women and does away with the practice of charging women more than men for comparable health insurance.

“We have Congressman Heck who voted with the crazies on all this stuff,” he said. “The last day (Oct. 16), he finally voted that the government wouldn’t close. But he had voted 45 times to get rid of Obamacare; talk about anti-woman! Now remember before Obamacare came along, being a woman was a pre-existing disability.”

After criticizing House Republicans, Reid said there’s not going to be a big budget deal with Republicans.

Instead, Reid said that Congress should strike a deal to get rid of across-the-board budget cuts that Congress imposed on itself after legislators failed to reach a major budget deal earlier this year.

He called the so-called “sequestration” cuts harmful to the country.

“It’s been senseless cutting,” he said. “It’s been with a meat axe instead of a scalpel.”

Any talk of a big budget deal that would raise taxes or reform major federal programs like Medicare or Social Security will have to wait, Reid said.

KNPR’s Dave Becker asked Reid about such a bargain numerous times.

But Reid dismissed the notion that there’d be a major deal.

“Get something else in your brain,” he told Becker. “Stop talking about that. That is not going to happen this time. There’s not going to be a grand bargain.”

He said Democrats need to come together with “mainstream Republicans” to forge a deal that keeps the government open past Jan. 15.

But he admitted that such Republicans might be difficult to find.

“The sad part about all of this is this, where have mainstream Republicans gone?” he said. “Where have they gone?

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