Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid blamed Republicans Wednesday afternoon for the National Institutes of Health turning away cancer patients, saying he wouldn’t be forced to pick and choose between parts of the government.
In a tense exchange, CNN reporter Dana Bash asked Mr. Reid why he wouldn’t pass a House bill that would specifically fund the National Institutes of Health if it would help “one child who has cancer.”
“The House is presumably going to pass a bill that funds at least the NIH,” Ms. Bash said. “Given what you’ve said, will you at least pass that? And if not, aren’t you playing the same political games that Republicans are?”
“Listen, Sen. Durbin explained that very well, and he did it here, did it on the floor earlier, as did Sen. Schumer,” Mr. Reid replied. “What right did they have to pick and choose what part of government is going to be funded? It’s obvious what’s going on here. You talk about reckless and irresponsible. Wow. What this is all about is Obamacare. They are obsessed. I don’t know what other word I can use. They’re obsessed with this Obamacare thing. It’s working now and it will continue to work and people will love it more than they do now by far. So they have no right to pick and choose.”
As Mr. Reid was speaking, Ms. Bash asked him the question about why he wouldn’t take action if he could help “one child who has cancer.”
“Listen, listen — why would we want to do that?” Mr. Reid said, continuing his answer. “I have 1,100 people at Nellis Air Force Base that are sitting home. They have a few problems of their own. This is — to have someone of your intelligence to suggest such a thing maybe means you’re irresponsible and reckless…”
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“I’m just asking a question,” Ms. Bash interjected.
Republicans have already fired back at the senator’s comments.
“How out-of-touch and heartless can Senate Democrats be?” an email from the National Republican Senatorial Committee asked.
Mr. Reid’s office tweeted that he was taken out of context.
“Republicans are in such desperate straits that they have literally resorted to accusing me of not caring about kids with cancer. Shameful,” the office posted.