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At one point during Democrats’ news conference, cameras caught Mr. Gray, who had crashed the senators’ meeting, standing next to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

“I spoke to the extent that I could to the majority leader. That obviously was a press conference that they had planned. They didn’t even know that we would be here and vice versa,” Mr. Gray told reporters after the exchange.

The cameras’ sound equipment caught Mr. Reid telling Mr. Gray, “I’m on your side. Don’t screw it up,” in response to his pleas to reopen the District’s government.

Mr. Reid’s office did not return a request for comment.