Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) was apparently holding back a lot of his criticism of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) during the 16-day partial shutdown of the U.S. government.
But now that the government has been reopened and a potentially disastrous default avoided, it seems Reid is feeling free to sound off on his colleague whom many say is responsible for the shutdown.
Republicans have been “hurt irreparably” by the “defund Obamacare” gambit, an attempt to tie President Barack Obama’s health care law to a bill to keep the government funded, Reid told the Huffington Post in an interview Thursday.
The majority leader said that in his 30 years in Congress, he’s never seen a freshman senator inject himself into the House’s affairs quite like Cruz did.
“Ted Cruz, well, he proved he has a great fundraising operation,” Reid said. “But you don’t have to have Harry Reid criticizing him. Republicans criticized him. What do you think that vote was last night from Republicans?”
[sharequote align=”center”]Ted Cruz “can’t legislate better than I can” — Harry Reid.[/sharequote]
“That was a message to Ted Cruz: ‘What the hell are you doing?’ … He is a laughingstock to everybody but him. What has he accomplished other than raising some money for president? And if this man can get the nomination to be the Republican nominee for president, I pity the Republican Party,” Reid said.
“Ted Cruz is smart,” Reid added. “He has always been able to talk down to people. He is now in the Senate. People are as smart as he is. He can’t talk down to anyone anymore. But he has still not accepted that in his own head. He still thinks he’s smarter than everybody else. He might be able to work a calculus problem better than I can. But he can’t legislate better than I can.”
Reid then turned his attention to the story behind the failed “defund” Obamacare strategy.
“They kept trying to legislate from hour to hour,” Reid said. “It wasn’t even day to day.”
The majority leader recalled how Republicans constantly changed their proposals, the final one including a provision that would have required all members of Congress, their staff and the White House staff enroll in Obamacare.
“All of us who worked with him on this [were saying], ‘John, what is the matter with you?’’’ Reid said, referring to House Speaker John Boehner. “OK. Go after members of Congress. But even doing that. Now, I can handle if I have to buy insurance without employer contribution. But some of my senators can’t. Forget about that. Forget about senators. They can do okay. But staff — we have staff people of [Sen.] Susan Collins.”
“She has people who work in Maine and make $25,000 a year. One of the reasons you can get somebody like that is that you give them health care. I don’t mean to ramble on here, but I just can’t imagine the thought process of John Boehner. … How in good conscience could you do something like that?” he asked.
In fact, Reid’s office was so annoyed that Boehner tried to include lawmakers in President Obama’s signature health care law that its chief of staff leaked a handful of emails to Politico showing that the speaker may have actually coordinated with the Senate majority leader to exempt Congress from Obamacare
“The speaker doesn’t want any staffer -– or any American –- to be subject to Obamacare,” Boehner’s spokesman, Brendan Buck, told the Huffington Post on Thursday. “That’s why he’s fought tirelessly to repeal the entire law.”
(H/T: Washington Examiner)
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