Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 1, 2014

Harry Reid Says He Needs More Meetings With Mitch McConnell

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says he’s going to have to get back to meeting regularly with his Republican counterpart from Kentucky.

The relationship between the Nevada Democrat and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has undoubtedly soured, particularly with the level of discord over the Senate’s rules and the treatment of filibusters.

“We’re going to have to start meeting on a regular basis. We haven’t been doing that. Bill Frist, who was his Republican predecessor, led the Senate for a number of years for the Republicans, he and I disagreed on a number of things,” Reid said. “We met together virtually every week. And we have to get back doing that with Sen. McConnell.”

Reid’s comments came in an interview with the PBS NewsHour, but only a portion of the interview aired on the program.

Asked about McConnell’s comment that Reid would go down as the worst majority leader in history if he changed filibuster rules, Reid said McConnell was frustrated by his threat to change the rules, and indicated it was water under the bridge.

“Sticks and stones will hurt my bones, but names will never hurt me. I am very happy. I’ve been the majority leader longer than anyone in the history of this country except for Mike Mansfield, and I’m proud of the work I’ve done, and so is my Democratic caucus,” Reid said.

Mansfield, a Montana Democrat, spent about 15 years as majority leader. Reid has held the title since 2007.

On the debate over whether to deploy the “nuclear option,” Reid took credit for helping jump start the talks with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., that defused the majority leader’s own threat to change the rules with a simple majority vote.

“I called John and I said, ‘John, we need to try to work something out on this,’ and he stepped forward with others and did that,” Reid said in the interview.

Asked about the possibility of a floor fight in September over funding the 2010 health care law, Reid zeroed in on one particular Republican senator.

“If you look at what Mike Lee, the young man from Utah, is talking about — read what he says. What he wants to do is shut down the government to get rid of Obamacare,” Reid said. “He’s living in a dreamland. So Republicans — even Republicans won’t agree with what he’s trying to do. And he is representative of the tea party, and that shows how senseless and illogical it is.”

Lee has argued that Republicans should not vote to fund the government unless money to implement Obamacare is stripped from spending bills.

Lee planned to participate in a floor colloquy on Thursday pushing the case against including funding for the health care law in the continuing resolution to fund the government past Sept. 30.

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